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BeachOfEden

Libs Trying To Change Fundies

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I can't rember who it precisley was, but someone on here said something about maybe "We ( meaning Progressive Christians) could teach fundamentalist who come here some enlightenment....or in other words, they were saying maybe over time the Progressive, non-fundie, "My church is better than everyone elses!" mentality would slowly melt away...or something like this....

 

In other words, they are sugesting that maybe if fundies hang out here they will somehow magically see the light and we can make them turn Progressive.

 

Humm.. wouldn't this be the same as what the fundies are trying to do US but in reverse? I don;t desire to try and do this myself. Sure, I wish they would change, on their own..but I don;t want to try and coex them or whatever. Coexing is uslaly based or motivated by fear..which I don;t relate to in Progressive Christianity.

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Humm.. wouldn't this be the same as what the fundies are trying to do US but in reverse? I don;t desire to try and do this myself. Sure, I wish they would change, on their own..but I don;t want to try and coex them or whatever. Coexing is uslaly based or motivated by fear..which I don;t relate to in Progressive Christianity.

That's a good question. I do think there are important differences between the kind of manipulative, fear-based "conversion" tactics of most fundamentalists, and a genuine desire to open someone's mind to what you believe is a fuller, more all-encompassing point of view. I don't go out trying to coax people into anything, because I think that tactic will almost always fail in the long run anyway. Longer-term studies of "altar call" respondees reveal that very few who respond to these kinds of manipulative calls to conversion remain attached to a church community for more than about six months. However, I think, in the world as it is, that many people really are looking for something more, something beyond the daily grind -- but they may not know what it is, or where to go about looking for it. If a person is genuinely searching, and I have something they might be looking for, it would be silly to keep it to myself out of a phobia of "coaxing" them into something.

 

As far as entering into arguments with people who already have a belief system, however, and are convinced and happy with it (which is what you're asking about with this thread), I think in general these types of discussions don't get very far -- which is why you'll notice I haven't started any such threads, or spent much time in them. (At least beyond defending their right to exist.) I'm willing to go a certain distance sometimes, if I really spot a big hole in someone's logic and I think I could convince them of it. But in those cases I'm not really trying to sell them on my own beliefs, so much as trying to show them a deficiency in their own thinking that they need to address. Sometimes a person will see the hole, sometimes not. Sometimes they'll come closer to my beliefs, sometimes not. But overall, it's not that productive an approach. Hence, you will notice that I've never spent a single keystroke trying to convince our conservative posters to become progressive, or to judge their faith based on patently progressive criteria. You may also notice that they haven't tried to convince me to become a conservative either. I think we all mutually understand that it's going to be an exercise in futility, and the result will be lots of bad blood and harsh feelings. There are just certain brick walls beyond which discussions simply can't progress, because there is a fundamental disagreement about basic assumptions. At that point, when I know I'm not going to convince someone of my basic beliefs, I'd rather put out the fires and just focus on what he have in common -- a committment to growing closer to God in our hearts as well as our minds, and to seeing God in ourselves and in the world around us more fully.

 

That's my $.02, hope it helps.

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The philospher/ historian Michael Foucault wrote:

 

"I like discussions, and when I am asked questions, I try to answer them. It’s true that I don’t like to get involved in polemics. If I open a book and see that the author is accusing an adversary of “infantile leftism” I shut it again right away. That’s not my way of doing things; I don’t belong to the world of people who do things that way. I insist on this difference as something essential: a whole morality is at stake, the one that concerns the search for truth and the relation to the other (Rabinow, 1997)." (italics added)

 

Yet, as Christians we must speak out against injustice, but how?

 

"The person who stands firm does not have to be 'right' to be of benefit to the group ... [one] is not attempting to influence or change others, but simply stating, 'this is who I am; this is what I believe' (Kerr & Bowen)."

 

 

:D

Edited by minsocal

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Well, with Prog Christianity..what I observe is that there are all this stories of someone previously having been a hard-shelled fundamentalist..and they would not bend or listen to our cases for social jusitces...then all a sudden something happens to like one of their children..like maybe a good daughter might have been discrimanated against in fundie college or or the like or maybe their son learns he is gay...then when it actually effects 'THEIR' own life..they have a change of heart.

 

So I think such as these stories can be shared on the web and in newspapers and maybe others who have experienced like-minded sanarios might be inspired..In contrast with the far right...these stories of a change of heart are NOT based on theological FEAR tactictis to win over converts..and I think that's the difference..Rather they are won over by a change of heart..when they suddenly see injustices placed upon loved ones.

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Hi Beach and all --

 

I don't think liberals / progressives should try to change or "convert" fundamentalists. It is a waste of time and energy. Having dialogues and discussions about differences of opinion can be valuable if they are handled well and approached in the spirit of love and the desire to understand. But heavy-handed evangelism doesn't really work, as far as I can tell.

 

The best way to "evangelize," really, is through our being and through our presence, imo. Christ-centered being and presence, that is. Walking the walk. If Christ's love is in us and we are allowing that love to flow through us in all our words, actions, and deeds, people will be attracted to Christ and Christ-consciousness in spite of themselves. It's really the Spirit that converts -- not our own particular machinations.

 

I see conversion as a life-long process that takes place in overt as well as in hidden ways. In addition, we don't always perceive the effects that our Christ-centered being has on others, so it's best not to set up "changing others" as a goal that requires some kind of evidence as proof of meeting the goal -- which can turn into a game of the ego. Instead, we can be Christ's presence in the world, and let the Spirit flow where it will, doing its often slow and invisible work.

 

Ken Wilber's books and philosophy have offered me another way to look at fundamentalism. He and some like-minded colleagues suggest that people are at various stages of spiritual development. Fundamentalism / literalism is a stage that all individuals and cultures pass through at some point -- it's like the childhood phase of a worldview that can evolve into something with more maturity and depth. Of course it's seriously problematic when people cling to this stage out of fear -- which we see happening all too often these days. But just as we must all be children before we can be adults, we generally have to pass through literalist, magical, or fundamentalist versions of spirituality before growing into something more expansive. We have to be children before we can "put away childish things." Rather than despising fundamentalists or trying to change them, we could look at them through compassionate eyes as brothers and sisters (or perhaps even former versions of ourselves) and pray that the Spirit will work through us in a way that allows them to evolve through this stage (rather than clinging to it or regressing back to it out of fear). We can also remember Jesus' prayer on the cross (which is really a prayer for all of us, no matter where we are on the spiritual spectrum): "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do . . ."

 

I think this all requires great amounts of love and compassion. The truth is, as we continue along in the spiritual journey, more is required of us -- greater faith, deeper levels of patience and forbearance, and greater love. And greater humility, also -- because we certainly don't have all the answers!

 

Peace and good tidings,

Mary

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I can't rember who it precisley was, but someone on here said something about maybe "We ( meaning Progressive Christians) could teach fundamentalist who come here some enlightenment....or in other words, they were saying maybe over time the Progressive, non-fundie, "My church is better than everyone elses!" mentality would slowly melt away...or something like this....

 

In other words, they are sugesting that maybe if fundies hang out here they will somehow magically see the light and we can make them turn Progressive.

 

Humm.. wouldn't this be the same as what the fundies are trying to do US but in reverse? I don;t desire to try and do this myself. Sure, I wish they would change, on their own..but I don;t want to try and coex them or whatever. Coexing is uslaly based or motivated by fear..which I don;t relate to in Progressive Christianity.

 

 

I think coversion from fundie/conservative to progressive is like therapy: the person has to want to change and see the need to change.

 

Where progressives do well is in reaching those of us who have left church out of frustration and letting us know they exist. From age 16 to 35 the few years I went to church were not because I wanted to or because I liked it. It was because I either had to or felt obligated to. I really didn't think such a church existed as a UCC or UU. You would have thought I just found out Santa really did exist when I discovered the UCC.

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I dont think a lot of fundies would be comfortable as progs because they have to have certainty about everything-everything must be black and white, no shades of grey allowed. We progs are comfortable with the grey, and I think that threatens a lot of fundies. They can't stand not having every answer in a neat little box. I should know, I was one.

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It's not an easy thing to live in the grey zone, but it forces one to use talents for evaluating existence in ambiguous environments that simply are not used much anymore. It's just that these days the world has been made to seem more black and white for us by the media, when in reality it's probably becoming more and more grey everyday.

 

flow.... :)

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It took me a really really really long time to become comfortable with "shades of grey." Sometimes I still long for the certainty of my old faith, but most of the time I'm so freaking awed by the mystery of it all that I would never go back.

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It's not an easy thing to live in the grey zone, but it forces one to use talents for evaluating existence in ambiguous environments that simply are not used much anymore. It's just that these days the world has been made to seem more black and white for us by the media, when in reality it's probably becoming more and more grey everyday.

 

flow.... :)

 

I know what you mean. I had an ex who was a fundie and saw everything in black and white. Sometimes I envy him that he can do that because the reason he can do that is because he has never really encountered any real hardship in life or any period of uncertainty where he just had to slog on like the rest of us do. But then again, I am glad that I am not that way because, if anything *does* happen to him and he ever *does* have his faith tested, he won't be able to handle it. I have had my faith tested almost to the point of walking away and now I feel that my faith and trust is stronger as a result.

 

So maybe it is better that we are able to see the shades of grey, because *life* is grey. There are so few things in black and white that we learn to greater appreciate them when we do find them.

 

And I like the avatars you sent me:)

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Of course it was the Grateful Dead that popularized the concept of shades of grey in the eighties. Talk about prophetic music !!

 

Yes, G-d tests us continually, for sh/he is a refiner, and a refiner works towards the purest and clearest iteration of the substances that sh/he is working with.

 

Seek out the shades of grey and look into them deeply. Identify and define the things that materialize out of the mist. The world will automatically become a better place because of your powers of discernment.

 

flow.... ;)

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This topic is of real interest to me because just yesterday I had one of those a-ha moments about it. I have struggled for some time with trying to find a way to deal with my distaste for fundamentalists. I want to be inclusive and accepting of all faiths but struggle to accept fundamentalist beliefs because they exclude and condemn. Anyway, I have improved in dealing with this over time, but yesterday I had a real a-ha about the whole thing.

 

I was thinking about how things must have been when Columbus set off to discover a passage to the Orient. Most of the people stayed in the 'Old World' and only a few went with Columbus. I'm sure there were many who stayed behind who thought Columbus was totally nuts, but I'm sure there were others who rather envied him and his crew.

 

What I also realized, though, is that both those who stayed behind and Columbus and his men had a necessary role to play in the development of our world. I was able to see the value of both the 'stay at homes' and the 'adventurers'. Then my mind went to the whole concept of conservative versus progressive religious values and that's when the a-ha happened. I realized that just as there was value in those who stayed in the 'Old World', so too there is value in those who stay in a conservative faith. That was a HUGE realization for me. I had to stop and really think about it. However, the more I thought about the analogy, the more I realized that it was true.

 

Being an explorer myself, I see far more value in those who are like Columbus, but just as I can not deny that those who stayed at home had a role to play, I can no longer deny that those who remain in their comfortable pew have some role as well.

 

This whole thing made me realize that we are all on a continuum, with those of us who are 'seekers' being spread along the left side of that continuum and those who are 'conservative' being spread along the right side of it. I also came to see that all are necessary. However, I know that even with this new understanding I will still struggle when I hear fundamentalists say that others are going to hell or that they (the fundamentalists) have the ONLY TRUTH. I will have to continue to develop compassion for them and will work to do that, but I know that this a-ha has helped me see things in a better light.

 

Hope these thoughts might be of some help.

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Cool insights Maggie! Thanks for sharing. I saw a quote from Carl Jung the other day that your post reminded me of...

 

"Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves."

 

Harsh.... but I find it to be true of myself. That speck and plank thing again!!! :o:lol:

 

 

And... Grey is beautiful.

Edited by Cynthia

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And this "grey" is the moderate/balanced..or as Buddha might discribe it, "the Middle Way." This is the challenge..that is..to make BOTh extremes see...the extreme Fundamental Right and the Far Atheists/Humanist Left..which are The Black and White..see that yes, a 'GREY'/Middle Blanced Way...DOES exists...It seems to me that both extremes...Black and White/Far Right and Far Left refuse to acknowledge the "Grey'...akak The Moderate Middle..and thus why they are both EXTREME.

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And this "grey" is the moderate/balanced..or as Buddha might discribe it, "the Middle Way." This is the challenge..that is..to make BOTh extremes see...the extreme Fundamental Right and the Far Atheists/Humanist Left..which are The Black and White..see that yes, a 'GREY'/Middle Blanced Way...DOES exists...It seems to me that both extremes...Black and White/Far Right and Far Left refuse to acknowledge the "Grey'...akak The Moderate Middle..and thus why they are both EXTREME.

 

 

I'm not concerned about what others see. Well, I guess I am. I guess I don't see it as my responsibility. People will see it when they want to. I'm less concerned about the "Atheists/Humansists Left" simply because I find they are more socially active and more like to follow Jesus' teaching even if they don't believe in God. My concern with the Right is that they aren't doing what is right for those in the world who are most vulnerable and for the world itself. I've seen some who are atheists who are right wing politically (which really blows my mind!)

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BTW brain tissue is not black and white, it is grey.

 

Although one could say that the neurons are white since they transmit electrical impulses, and that the glial cells are black since they inhibit and mediate the neurons, as I said the overall appearance is grey, if one uses wholistic viewing and thinking.

 

Of course the extremes of black and white never want to acknowledge the wholistic viewpoint because they fear that this compromise in philosophical approaches would rob them of their identities, perhaps the ultimate fear factor. Steal your face ?

 

Wassuuup Yin-Yang Kid ?

 

flow.... :D

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:lol:

 

Sage wisdom Flow-San.

 

And it's not just conservatives that get nervous when their black/white thinking is challenged. Progressives do so as well.

 

Thank you Grasshopper.

 

The yin/yang kid. :P

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:lol:

 

Sage wisdom Flow-San.

 

And it's not just conservatives that get nervous when their black/white thinking is challenged. Progressives do so as well.

 

Thank you Grasshopper.

 

The yin/yang kid.  :P

 

It's interesting, but I know several folks who were real fundamentalists at one time. Then their faith got shaken because they couldn't believe every word in the Bible and they became athiests. They rail against the fundamentalists and their propensity of insisting they have the TRUTH but these athiests now insist that their lack of belief in God is the TRUTH. So they went from black and white on the right to black and white on the left. Seems to me that they are just some of those folks who have to be right and have all the answers sewed up in a neat little package.

Edited by maggie

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I think it involves fear. If white is good and black is bad, or vice versa, then you can know how to be safe. If I am a fundamentalist and believe that I know all the rules for getting "saved", then I'm safe. If the answers aren't that easy and you don't really know what you get points for, then I'm not safe. And, back to the human nature thing, what if somebody I don't agree with gets to go to heaven??? Clearly, NOT Fair!!! :P

 

I think the crux is that in the West, we don't like to do things that don't have an end point. Deciding to believe, going to church, etc are discrete events. Do it, done. Being spiritual, all the time, even in your thoughts as we (IMO) are called by the gospels is a much more Eastern concept. No end, eternal vigilance.... hard.

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Maggie:

 

"It's interesting, but I know several folks who were real fundamentalists at one time. Then their faith got shaken because they couldn't believe every word in the Bible and they became athiests. They rail against the fundamentalists and their propensity of insisting they have the TRUTH but these athiests now insist that their lack of belief in God is the TRUTH. So they went from black and white on the right to black and white on the left. Seems to me that they are just some of those folks who have to be right and have all the answers sewed up in a neat little package."

 

Yes, Maggie, that IS PRECISELY I think! That is there IS an extreme egotistical RIGHT....AND...LEFT! Black OR WHITE..and yet BOTH extreme sides reject the very possibility that THERE IS A MIDDLE aka GREY!

 

"I think it involves fear. If white is good and black is bad, or vice versa, then you can know how to be safe. If I am a fundamentalist and believe that I know all the rules for getting "saved", then I'm safe. If the answers aren't that easy and you don't really know what you get points for, then I'm not safe. "

 

Again, right on. I agree 100%! This is the Far right fundamental Protestants bag and it is also the far right JW's bag. To even ponder for one second the very posibility that 'MAYBE" JW's are NOT right after all....is scary beyound belief to JW's. "If...JW's are not right..than this might mean there is NO new earth reward..that there is NO ONE RIGHT GROUP..and thus maybe they are doing this all for nothing! If the JW org is NOt the ark of salvation then where are my absolutes? Where's my reasurance? Where's my saftey? My salvation?

 

It's scary to have to think for yourself! Or so they reason...

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So far I've observed two ways people move from right to left. One is a growing, more intellectual way. The other is reactionary. (I'm not saying their aren't any other ways just that I've observed these two). The one that is reactionary seems to more likely produce the absolute thinking.

 

I'm specifically thinking of someone I worked with who's brother and his wife were atheists (I can't remember what the catalyst was, I may not have known). They both started out as more fundamentalist (he was raised Southern Baptist). When they had kids (twins) they flipped back and became fundamentalists. Going in both directions there didn't seem to be any thoughtfulness that went into it. Just a sudden change.

 

People seem to be less b&w when they can look back over a period of time and see how 5 years ago they believed such and such and 1 year ago they believed such and such.

 

Anyone else observe this?

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I find that my desire to convert fundies more than others comes from how I've felt they've tried to control me. Now I'm trying to control them back. As I've gotten older, I've become more opportunitist, always looking for an opening. Also, plenty of the fundies I've met are preaching to get rid of the guilt from what they did before, as many were drug addicts who Came to Jesus after a few overdoses. At least they've stopped robbing houses.

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Hummm..well, I know that when ever my mom gets in one of her super "theocratic" moods and proceeds to share with me how great she thinks a new JW article is on the way they think family life should be or marriage....I am like, "And here is a great book a progressive Christian pastor from Settle WA wrote on how St,Paul's words were altered to make it sound as if he supported sexism in the church." :lol:

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