The Fundamental Truth About 'Fundamentalism'

Fundamentalist Christians have become the new target for the Old Media. One big reason is that media scribblers are simply ignorant of Western and world civilization. That thought comes to mind on listening to Verdi's Requiem, one of the most gorgeous and moving works ever composed. It is simply filled with "Christian fundamentalism" --- including the fear of punishment before God. At a guess, half of the greatest works in Western civilization are directly inspired by religious fundamentalism of one kind or another. 

Mozart, Bach, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Mendelsohn, Faure, Britten, Handel, and all the rest are just incomprehensible without understanding that. Everything else --- Michelangelo's Pieta, Rembrandt's Jewish Bride, all the great devotional monuments and buildings from the Parthenon to the sacred buildings in Jerusalem --- point to the same powerful nexus of the human imagination. Our media trivializers are just showing their endless ignorance when they attack fundamentalism as if it were some alien implant in our world.

What about Jewish fundamentalism, called 'orthodox Judaism'? Well, there is an organic connection between those two long historical streams. Christianity cannot be reduced to Judaism and vice versa. But Christianity is a daughter faith of Judaism, and the overlap in liturgy and thought is very large indeed. If  you hear the Latin "Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus," think the Hebrew "Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh" and the Anglican "Holy, Holy, Holy". 

American history is incomprehensible without the religious strands that wove this country into a unity. The abolition of slavery is incomprehensible without religion. To understand the passions of the Civil War, listen to the Battle Hymn of the Republic --- a profoundly religious song.   American Blacks would not be free to live lives of human dignity without the Christian Abolitionists who influenced the founding of the Republican Party. Martin Luther King's Civil Rights movement mobilized both Black and integrated Churches and Synagogues in the South and elsewhere.

Most people will listen to Handel's glorious Messiah during the holidays. The Messiah is nothing but "fundamentalism." It is a legal argument that the Jewish Covenant also applies to Christianity. That is why the Hebrew Prophets play such a central role in Handel's Messiah. The Prophets are interpreted to have predicted the coming of Jesus the Messiah. The word "messiah" is Hebrew for "the anointed one" who is sent to save the people, a repeated message in the turbulent history of the Jews.

Psychologically, the messiah is the mighty rescuer, who will save the people from their suffering. Historically, the Hanukkah holiday commemorates the Maccabean revolt against the Roman occupiers of Israel in the 2nd century BCE.  Some Jews interpreted Judah the Maccabee as a messianic figure, come to save the people from foreign oppression.    

All the arguments between Judaism, Christianity, Mormonism, and Islam are about who, if anyone, is to be considered the Messiah, the messenger who is to rescue the faithful

I'm not a believer myself, but all of us are inheritors of this extraordinary civilization --- unless, of course, we choose to be ignorant. Nor is it necessary to exclude Buddhism and Hinduism, which both have messiah-like figures at the very center of their beliefs. In his own way, Gautama Buddha is a messianic figure, as are the avatars of Hinduism. They are all considered to be divine messengers and liberators. All human groups yearn for a divine rescuer at times of overwhelming trouble.

Mohammed plays a similar role in Islam, as the last human Messenger. The theological split between Islam and other faiths is not on "fundamentalism," but on who is considered to be the authoritative Messenger.

Our media class is secular and Leftist. Secularism has long been accepted in American life. Historically, secularism was prevalent in Greco-Roman times, during the Renaissance, and in the Western Enlightenment. But one can be a secularist, an atheist or agnostic and still respect the beliefs of others.  Unfortunately, our media today are intolerant and bigoted against all "fundamentalism," meaning all religions. Christians are just the easiest target for their bigotry.

Media bias reflects Leftist fundamentalism. Sneering at religious people for being religious strikes me as impolite, superficial and profoundly ignorant. It is the bigotry of the Left. But any form of bigotry harms our sense of unity as a people. Our media should reflect the strong tolerance of the American people.

James Lewis blogs at dangeroustimes.wordpress.com/
Fundamentalist Christians have become the new target for the Old Media. One big reason is that media scribblers are simply ignorant of Western and world civilization. That thought comes to mind on listening to Verdi's Requiem, one of the most gorgeous and moving works ever composed. It is simply filled with "Christian fundamentalism" --- including the fear of punishment before God. At a guess, half of the greatest works in Western civilization are directly inspired by religious fundamentalism of one kind or another. 

Mozart, Bach, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Mendelsohn, Faure, Britten, Handel, and all the rest are just incomprehensible without understanding that. Everything else --- Michelangelo's Pieta, Rembrandt's Jewish Bride, all the great devotional monuments and buildings from the Parthenon to the sacred buildings in Jerusalem --- point to the same powerful nexus of the human imagination. Our media trivializers are just showing their endless ignorance when they attack fundamentalism as if it were some alien implant in our world.

What about Jewish fundamentalism, called 'orthodox Judaism'? Well, there is an organic connection between those two long historical streams. Christianity cannot be reduced to Judaism and vice versa. But Christianity is a daughter faith of Judaism, and the overlap in liturgy and thought is very large indeed. If  you hear the Latin "Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus," think the Hebrew "Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh" and the Anglican "Holy, Holy, Holy". 

American history is incomprehensible without the religious strands that wove this country into a unity. The abolition of slavery is incomprehensible without religion. To understand the passions of the Civil War, listen to the Battle Hymn of the Republic --- a profoundly religious song.   American Blacks would not be free to live lives of human dignity without the Christian Abolitionists who influenced the founding of the Republican Party. Martin Luther King's Civil Rights movement mobilized both Black and integrated Churches and Synagogues in the South and elsewhere.

Most people will listen to Handel's glorious Messiah during the holidays. The Messiah is nothing but "fundamentalism." It is a legal argument that the Jewish Covenant also applies to Christianity. That is why the Hebrew Prophets play such a central role in Handel's Messiah. The Prophets are interpreted to have predicted the coming of Jesus the Messiah. The word "messiah" is Hebrew for "the anointed one" who is sent to save the people, a repeated message in the turbulent history of the Jews.

Psychologically, the messiah is the mighty rescuer, who will save the people from their suffering. Historically, the Hanukkah holiday commemorates the Maccabean revolt against the Roman occupiers of Israel in the 2nd century BCE.  Some Jews interpreted Judah the Maccabee as a messianic figure, come to save the people from foreign oppression.    

All the arguments between Judaism, Christianity, Mormonism, and Islam are about who, if anyone, is to be considered the Messiah, the messenger who is to rescue the faithful

I'm not a believer myself, but all of us are inheritors of this extraordinary civilization --- unless, of course, we choose to be ignorant. Nor is it necessary to exclude Buddhism and Hinduism, which both have messiah-like figures at the very center of their beliefs. In his own way, Gautama Buddha is a messianic figure, as are the avatars of Hinduism. They are all considered to be divine messengers and liberators. All human groups yearn for a divine rescuer at times of overwhelming trouble.

Mohammed plays a similar role in Islam, as the last human Messenger. The theological split between Islam and other faiths is not on "fundamentalism," but on who is considered to be the authoritative Messenger.

Our media class is secular and Leftist. Secularism has long been accepted in American life. Historically, secularism was prevalent in Greco-Roman times, during the Renaissance, and in the Western Enlightenment. But one can be a secularist, an atheist or agnostic and still respect the beliefs of others.  Unfortunately, our media today are intolerant and bigoted against all "fundamentalism," meaning all religions. Christians are just the easiest target for their bigotry.

Media bias reflects Leftist fundamentalism. Sneering at religious people for being religious strikes me as impolite, superficial and profoundly ignorant. It is the bigotry of the Left. But any form of bigotry harms our sense of unity as a people. Our media should reflect the strong tolerance of the American people.

James Lewis blogs at dangeroustimes.wordpress.com/