Broken Daughters

Picking up the shattered glass of fundamentalism

Why fundamentalism is so appealing.

8 Comments

Let’s admit it, we live in a time with very specific problems. Tough times. Not that times haven’t been tough before, for other generations, but ours are pretty hard too.

We get up in the mornings, and usually, are thoughts are overcrowded with plans for the day. We shower, dress and eat, but it’s a necessity. It’s not enjoyable, as we might be tense, nervous, or simply don’t feel like doing what the day at work throws at us.

At work or school, we are faced with the fact that there is always someone who tells us what to do. Always someone who’s smarter, better, prettier, anything really. Work and school are exhausting. We try to get it done, but it’s fighting windmills. At the end of the day, your toughest, most feared opponent is not the guy who makes better investments, or the woman who seems to manage everything with a smile. You are your biggest opponent. The faster, better, stronger we are, the higher the expectations.

And in between trying to outdo yourself and all the others, pile after pile of stones are dropped on your head. Stones that read “Make more money”, “know more”, “have more skills” and so on. We are rushing through the day, trying to pick up pieces here and there in order to give us somewhat of an advantage from… who again?

Once we get home, the race continues. Change your clothes, quick quick, now it’s time to have that private time you dreamed of while at work. We text, we type, we chat, we call. We don’t ask “How are you?”, we ask “Where are you?” – the emptiest question one can ask. Yeah, where the heck was I again?

Most of our social life seems to take place online, where things are so easily said, promised and broken. “I love you” types so easily. “I hate you” does, too. In an environment where one does not have to face the immediate, emotional response of somebody else, emotions become meaningless. Emotions are swept away just like the text message you didn’t want to read – there’s always a delete button.

 

Fundamentalism offers a new approach to life. It takes a person off the racetrack onto that good old “narrow path”. You can’t run there. You don’t have to.

It gives meaning back to the small things in life – watching the beautiful nature, doing little things like petting a cat. It gives meaning to actions we don’t consider meaningful – getting pretty for your husband, vacuuming the floor. It’s all part of the kingdom and God smiles down on you while you do it.

It takes away the stress of a society ruled by information. While those “worldly” informations change, sometimes within minutes, you suddenly hold eternal information, eternal truth, given by somebody so much bigger than your boss. You can read it over and over, and it stays the same, and it stays true.

That bigger person made you, handcrafted you. You’re perfect to him. You don’t have to envy the pretty woman at school anymore, or the smart guy at your office. You are perfect and there’s no way to make you more perfect than you already are. If you fail at something, it’s alright. It’s just not part of your God-given talents.

Relationships are given a new meaning. Online friendships are considered fully meaningless, actually, the entire internet is a place for bad people. You find real friends, who really look at you, and really talk to you. But this time, there’s no delete-button. Don’t let them get too close. And your husband? Instead of jumping from one love to another, he waited for you. Makes you feel so special. Makes you feel “like the only girl in the world”. He can’t compare you to anyone, and yet again, another fight you managed to avoid.

It all looks so good – from the outside.

 

I’m not trying to paint black and white colors here. You know very well I’m against fundamentalism. But after a lot of thinking, I understood why fundamentalism attracks so many people, why so many people give up their lives to change their lifestyle. It’s interesting really. From this point of view, fundamentalism seems like a reaction to the troubles each age of time brings along. That convinces me that fundamentalism will never die, no matter how hard anybody tries to show people the dark sides. What do you think…

 

8 thoughts on “Why fundamentalism is so appealing.

  1. Interesting thought and I agree that it is appealing to people in our trying times probably because they are trying to make sense of a senseless world.

    But I had another though. I was at Bible Study Wednesday night and the pastor mentioned to our group that 100 years ago WE would have been considered the “fundamentalists” but that is no longer so. Now we are considered moderates or, probably in the case of your parents, liberals, especially considering that I was the only woman there with hair below the shoulders and not a single woman was wearing a dress…..

    Looking back over my lifetime of 50 years, I see an increasing group of people with no guidance. We have now reached the point in America where we either completely disdain rules and want what we want when we want it and don’t care what it costs or whom we hurt to get it OR we long for a set of rules that tell us how it is, when it is and where it is. My most fundamentalist girlfriends claim they cannot function without their “domestic organizers.” They have to sit down and plan when they will clean their kitchens, when they will vacuum the drapes and on what day they will make meatloaf for dinner.

    It is, as you indicated, a need for everything to be all right but it’s more a need for a parent to tell you what to do, for a parent to be in charge. They crave structure. They crave a childhood in which they were comfortable and they knew exactly what was expected of them. It is, for many, a way to not grow up and think for themselves.

    • I absolutely agree that there certainly is a desire for feeling the protection of a parent again.
      I think the whole theoretical approach the fundamentalists work with isn’t that bad. It gives structure, security and something to hold on to when times are rough. We all need that, it’s how we function. But if we don’t have any way to feel that way, we go looking for it. Some do this with an excess amount of lovers, others with drugs, others again look for extreme forms of religion. There are certainly other ways too.
      I mean, just look at people who are unemployed for a long time. They’re in crisis, lacking structure in their life, and often, that results in deep depression which they can’t get out of on their own. Without structure, we fall apart.

  2. Interestingly, my sister and I were talking about this just the other day after she got off the phone with our friend in India, a native East Indian who has devoted his life to serving others for Christ in a country where the needs are endless and deep. She asked me if maybe we Christians here in America have just totally missed the boat, if we are too consumed with our fancy church programs, our exciting youth group trips and with redecorating and remodeling our already beautiful church buildings, if we have totally missed the calling that God really has for us. In this nation of plenty, I think that many Christians feel that they are not “doing enough” for God. Super-fundamentalist Christians try to prove their devotion to God by taking on extreme legalism, but we know from scripture that God is not impressed. I am reminded that the Bible calls Satan the Accuser, and isn’t that how many Christians feel, accused, that they must do more and more and more to prove to God that they really do love Him, that they really are set apart from this world and belong to Him?

    I have a few dear friends who I see going down this road and taking their precious children with them, and their motivations are not to control other people or to be cruel, but to win God’s approval for themselves and their families. But the Bible is so clear that God’s friendship is a free gift, not to be earned. I know that the super-fundies would agree with that, in theory… but to place man-made laws and rules on people and call them “God’s laws” prove otherwise and is in the spirit of the Pharisees. It is sad that so many Christians cannot just rest in the peace and assurance of God’s love for them. But I think the false sense of devotion is what may draw so many otherwise normal Christians into this movement.

    • I firmly believe that many people who turn to fundamentalism don’t do it because they are bad people. They do it because they want to do the right thing, and I think many parents do it out of love for their children, because just look around you, there are broken kids everywhere. They want to protect them. I think that many people who get into the movement have some kind of fear, or uncertainty inside themselves, and they believe the lies of the legalists that their life will be full of purpose. The legalists present themselves as picture perfect families and of course that’s impressive to most other families. And until they finally can see behind the curtain, see what’s really going on in some of the families within the movement, it’s already too late and harm is done.

      • Wow, your perspective is precious!

        Me&my hubby got saved somewhere around our wedding (separate events for each of us nevertheless). So we came from word to the Christian faith.
        Now my husband is drifting slowly towards fundamentalism (Seriously, I couldn’t see most of this crap they assume when I first was reading bible). I thought of him that “Is he blind?! Is he stupid?! Is he that evil?!” but now I can see that why he might be attracted to it. He listens to tons of sermons of pastor Steven Anderson (yuck! I really can’t stand the guy…) and asked me recently if I would be willing to move to US (yeah, right, to stay in some cult – no thank you).
        Thank God, we live in Poland (yay, neighbours!) and extremism is really rarely seen here, I have ton of support from other people🙂

  3. “Relationships are given a new meaning. Online friendships are considered fully meaningless, actually, the entire internet is a place for bad people.” This is the paragraph that truly incapsulates fundamentalism, as your previous part of the definition can be true, and can be real, and liberating. Why? Not because of the shameful cult of the gurus like Pearl, Gothard, or any of he other writers so freely available to the movement, but through freedom, and a true relationship with Christ. However, we come to the paragraph of which I speak. Here’s what I’ve found. People are not drawn to freedom. They’re drawn to rules and regulations. Unfortunately, what they don’t get is that Christ died because the rules were unliveable, so the problem arises when people try to take those rules, build formulas from them, and impose them on others. Those others, I believe, really want to live to please God, and really want to be “good Christians.” Unfortunately, what they end up doing is to frustrate the grace of God, as Galatians 2:21 says. It cheapens something beautiful, and makes involuntary slaves out of people who otherwise could’ve known true freedom, and victory! Jesus is not about being against everything. He’s about life, and joy, and peace, and love. Sure, there’s a side of him that can chasten us if we get out of line, but it’s been my experience that when He does, it is not abusive, or bruitish, but tender, and helpful. Anyway, I’m sorry for writing a novel here, but this post just proves that what God showed me is true, and I will continue to stand against the evil cult of this dangerous fundamentalism that has hurt so many people. I wish I had a blog you could read about my life story, just so you could see where I’m coming from, and thank you again for your angle on things. It is very helpful!

  4. I have been reading your blog for the last few days with utter fascination. And what you say here helps me, in a way. You see, I was raised in Europe in a society that couldn’t be further away from the world you were brought up in: big cities, books, secular education although I did have a “cultural” Catholic upbringing.
    Over the years though, I discovered within myself a “conservative” streak as it were. Or is it simply nostalgia?? I cried reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, yearning for what seemed like idyllic times and family life (the blizzards and hunger just reinforced, in my mind, the strength of the family. Also, my parents’ marriage was not a happy one).
    I discovered the Amish, the Mennonites. Fascinated yet again by the community and simplicity. A few years ago, I discovered – all of that through the Internet, of course – the Vision Forum crowd, Gothard usw. I’m probably the only person in Europe that has read the Kathryn Joyce book!
    I don’t really know why I’m telling you all of this. Also, obviously since I’m posting here, I am of course aware of all that is wrong with fundamentalism. I don’t even know if I believe in God. But yes, fundamentalism can be weirdly appealing even to to someone like me…
    I do hope you will find happiness. I am so glad your extended family is here for you. I admire your courage and strength!

  5. I have been reading your blog for the last few days with utter fascination. And what you say here helps me, in a way. You see, I was raised in Europe in a society that couldn’t be further away from the world you were brought up in: big cities, books, secular education although I did have a “cultural” Catholic upbringing.
    Over the years though, I discovered within myself a “conservative” streak as it were. Or is it simply nostalgia?? I cried reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, yearning for what seemed like idyllic times and family life (the blizzards and hunger just reinforced, in my mind, the strength of the family. Also, my parents’ marriage was not a happy one).
    I discovered the Amish, the Mennonites. Fascinated yet again by the community and simplicity. A few years ago, I discovered – all of that through the Internet, of course – the Vision Forum crowd, Gothard usw. I’m probably the only person in Europe that has read the Kathryn Joyce book!
    I don’t really know why I’m telling you all of this. Also, obviously since I’m posting here, I am of course aware of all that is wrong with fundamentalism. I don’t even know if I believe in God. But yes, fundamentalism can be weirdly appealing even to to someone like me…
    I do hope you will find happiness. I am so glad your extended family is here for you. I admire your courage and strength!

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