Monday, June 30, 2014

The Fundamentalist Creed

Or if you prefer a lighter title, perhaps you can imagine this as a Jeff Foxworthy bit called "You might be a fundie..."

Since fundamentalism is an equal-opportunity sport within every political, social, and moral worldviews, I will try to provide examples from various camps. (Of course, it is more amusing and ironic to see this sort of thing from self-styled liberals-- given their frequent claims of intellectual sophistication and tolerance.) 

But as a caveat, I should make clear that *holding* any of these views does not make you a fundamentalist. The issue here is *how* you believe-- and how you handle what others believe (particularly on debatable topics)-- far more than *what* you believe. (I will name the view below, but that should be read as shorthand as a proclivity for fundamentalism within that view.)

Of course, fundies are probably least likely to see such things in themselves. But maybe this can be a mirror for increased self-awareness-- and if not, at least it'll be some fun for the non-fundies. I should also hasten to say that I'm not aiming this at any particular individual. If the shoe doesn't fit, don't worry about it. If the shoe fits, wear it...please, please, please-- for your own sake and those around you.

Anyway, here goes: As a fundie, I promise to...

1.) mostly read proponents of my views. To the extent that I engage another side, I will never read their best work. (I reserve the right to ridicule their less-impressive efforts and act as if that's the sum total of their work.) In my attempts to be balanced, I reserve the right to read some hackneyed critiques written by those with whom I usually agree. A slight improvement: don't read at all; just listen to Hannity/Hewitt or watch MSNBC. (See: eschatology, health care, Charles Murray's work.)


2.) label my opponents as heretics or flat-earthers; to shout them down as much as possible; and to otherwise discourage constructive dialogue. (See: young-earth creationism, AGW, military intervention debates within the GOP a decade ago.)

3.) stick to a literal approach of a text if at all possible-- and to do so in a self-righteous manner. (See: some proponents and most opponents of Christianity.)

4.) self-righteously insist on univariate analysis of complex social problems. (See: mass shootings, death penalty.) But I vow to ignore univariate analysis when it's inconvenient to my views. (See: health care vs. K-12 education; income inequality vs. the poverty rate.)

5.) avoid thinking about really uncomfortable inferences which stem from principles that I hold dear. (See: Affirmative Action, "exclusivism", "pro-choice" on abortion, one's favored types of crony capitalism.)

6.) propose simple solutions to complex problems-- and assume them to be largely effective, despite evidence, data, and theory to the contrary. (See: build a wall to fix illegal immigration; spend more on K-12 education; "just get rid of welfare"; War on Drugs.) 

7.) insist on tradition and conservative solutions, where possible, even when those approaches obviously haven't worked in the past-- and especially when better solutions are at hand. (See: minimum wage, Social Security, K-12 education.)

One more thing to be concerned about: If you read the examples provided and only caught the ones that relate to you-- and you infer that I'm picking on you or taking sides-- that's not a good sign! ;-)

UPDATES:

1.) It occurred to me that fundies are uncomfortable with questions. They will not ask them as often, preferring statements. They will avoid answering them from others. And if answering, they will a.) provide brief/tight answers to complex questions (even to the point of Chesterton's "maniac"); and b.) often use bluster to shut down discussion. (Note that all of these points are contrary to Jesus Christ's example.)

2.) As I noted above: all things equal, fundies will not read as much. (Then again, any given fundie might read more than any given non-fundie.) But within their reading, fundies will tend to stick with non-fiction and will tend to read for information purposes.


3 Comments:

At June 30, 2014 at 10:52 AM , Blogger Tom Powers said...

Professor,
Something of a straw man, don't you think? Corydon Tom Powers

 
At June 30, 2014 at 12:39 PM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...

How so? On particular points-- or in general?

In any case, I don't think so-- I know at least a handful of people under each point/category.

 
At February 11, 2015 at 1:26 PM , Blogger Andrew said...

1. No. Actually, I prefer to listen to/read opposing viewpoints. I greatly prefer NPR to any "conservative" propaganda, for example.
2. No, absolutely not. I smugly label my opponents fascist socialists and then imperiously define the terms. I think that's really cool, apparently.
3. Well, I'm pretty self-righteous, but not in a literalist way. So, another no.
4. No. I've already admitted to self-righteousness, but I'm not a univariate analyzer. I'm too cynical for that.
5. Hmmm. No comment at this time. So I don't have to count this as a Yes.
6. No, actually, I think I'm OK with this one. My solutions are simple, but so unlikely to ever happen, that there is no evidence of any kind related to what the heck I propose.
7. No, all of my solutions are radical/revolutionary, and very unpopular, as mentioned in #6.
Updates:
1. I love both asking and answering questions, though perhaps in a belligerent and blustery mode. I'm happy to argue this one, but I'm saying No here.
2. I do read a lot of non-fiction. But I have an undergrad degree in English Literature. So I'm calling this one inconclusive.
Therefore, despite what others say of me, I am not a fundamentalist.

 

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