Monday, November 3, 2008

Fundamental. That's where it starts.

I am aware that the title of my blog is broad and leaves much room for personal interpretation as to what "Real Life" may mean. I will just throw it out there that I didn't mean for my blog name to cause any kind of confusion, I was simply going for catchy alliteration. Never fear, I do plan to explain the topic of my research paper in depth.

The thesis for my research project is almost directly out of my Comp II book (Everything's an Argument). All quoted text in the following post will be from this book. The title of the chapter I will be basing my project on is What Role Should Religion Play in Public Life? (That might have served as a more practical name for my blog, but it's not near as catchy.) The chapter is a compilation of essays and writings about faith and religion in the public sector. This chapter attempts to shed some light on questions such as; How Does faith play into constitutional rights? How should people of faith move in society? Politics?

The first selection in this chapter is an excerpt from a report by Laurie Goodstein called, More Religion, but not the Old-Time Kind. This article explores the rise of some religious sects and the decline of others, such as fundamentalism in various religions. However, with the decline of fundamentalism it does not follow that religion as a whole is lessening. In fact it is the opposite. Religion is rising at an astounding pace almost all over the world. With this fact in mind most people jump to the conclusion that hostility would also be on the rise. Hostility between differing religious views. Goodstein states "What does all this rising religiosity add up to? It is easy to assume that a more religious world means a more fractious world, where violent conflict is fueled by violent fundamentalist movements."(pg 844) She goes on to elaborate on this train of thought.
This entire essay is somewhat negative towards fundamentalists of all religions. I consider myself a somewhat fundamental Christian, and therefore don't completely agree with Goodstein's view on this issue. Her idea and definition of fundamentalism is religion with a political agenda and (or) bent. This is shown as a negative trait throughout the article. A quality that turns people away, because of its association with violence. However, it would be untrue to state that most fundamental Christian sects (Baptists, Church of Christ, etc.) are frequently involved in violent or aggressive behavior. The opposite is true. Fundamental Christians are rarely, if ever, involved in such disorderly conduct. The Christian religion is based on love, and treating people accordingly. It would be true to state that Christian religion is outspoken about what it believes, but aren't all movements and religions? It would be foolish to expect Christians to keep silent on matters that are important to them. We don't expect the Homosexual movement to keep silent, we don't expect African Americans to keep silent about issues that are important to them.

Goodstein uses the Pentecostal movement as an example of a denomination that has branched off from main stream fundamental Christianity, and is booming as a result. Goodstein says; "The world's fastest growing religion is not any type of fundamentalism, but the Pentecostal wing of Christianity. While Christian fundamentalists are focused on doctrine and the inerrancy of Scripture, what is most important for Pentecostals is what they call "spirit-filled" worship..." (pg 844)
This conjures up the picture of care-free Pentecostals with nothing on their minds, but worship. On the other hand you have your Bible beating, agenda pushing, fundamentalist who are stuck in their ways. I think this is a faulty depiction of both factions described in this sentence.

For now I think it will suffice to say that every religion, group, organization, etc. has views on specific issues that it deems important. It should not be held against them if they choose to be vocal about those views.