In recent days I've been pondering the puzzling life of fundamentalist extremists, the people on the edges of whatever it is they profess. In particular, I've been thinking about Christian fundamentalist extremists.
In fact, I was praying about one particular person who has moved to the extreme edge. From the edge, their position is the only one that is "right." All others need to be condemned and/or shunned. From the edge, a narrow view of life and religion are maintained. They think that they have the only correct understanding of scriptures, traditions and ways of being Christian. They do not explore the great Christian mystics and thinkers of the ages, because they already "know." They don't need to understand the idioms, the historical context or anything else re: the Bible, because somehow they "know." The feel justified in being judgmental of all Christians who are not on the narrow edge with them. Perhaps some are actually fanatical.
For many of them, they are unwitting followers of Darby, the defrocked Anglican Priest of the late 1800's. Darby made up some of the features of extreme fundamentalism such as the rapture & tribulation. The followers today think they are following the old ways, but instead are following the thinking of a rather strange man of a little over 100 years ago.
The shower has historically been a place of insight and inspiration in my life. Sunday morning during my shower, I had a flash of insight re: this puzzling position of some people. They are Pharisee-like Christians. The law, their view, the narrow view -- that is all that matters. Search for deeper understanding is not needed, is indeed repulsive to them. Compassion is only for a select few who agree with them.
I had a vision of Jesus scratching his head over this odd turn of belief about him and his teachings. Instead of following in love, forgiveness, generosity of spirit, healing, giving, peacefulness, the stories of the long ago Pharisees live again in fundamentalist extremism.
God of the ages, God of the universe, God of my heart & soul, today as all days I turn to You. I need Your guidance, comfort & healing hand. Help me to be able to keep rooted in Your ways of Love & not be swayed by the harshness of our world. Lead me to live as You would have me live. Help me to live with courage that is gentle & rooted in Your Lovingness. Open my mind to more & more understanding. Help me to remember that we are all unfolding from various points of awareness, so that I can have compassion for those who seem to be stuck in some place far from Your Love. Help me keep focused on Your Light & follow You always. I ask You all of this in Jesus' name, Amen.