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Are You a Fundamentalist?

I was reading a few stories on the new movie Brideshead Revisited and came across a word not often associated with Catholicism.

In asking the screenwriter of the film which seems to bastardize the great Catholic novel what the story was about he said:

"In that tug between individual freedom and fundamentalist religion, there’s a story that’s apposite for our time. In the modern age that’s something we’re all dealing with.”
Fundamentalist religion? So, in that little phrase he is, I believe, referencing the Muslim terrorists who we are currently at war with but ascribing it to Catholic characters.

He's essentially calling a character in the novel a "fundamentalist" mainly because she calls off an extramarital affair because it's against her religion. He's lumping her in with terrorists.

But in a wider scope I've come across the word "fundamentalist" quite often. And it led me to ask, what is a "fundamentalist" anyway? Or more accurately what is it that people mean nowadays when they speak of fundamentalists?

Now the Christian Fundamentalist movement arose mainly within British and American Protestantism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries among conservative evangelical Christians, who, in a reaction to modernism, actively affirmed a fundamental set of Christian beliefs including the inerrancy of the Bible, Sola Scriptura, the virgin birth of Christ, the doctrine of substitutionary atonement, the bodily resurrection of Jesus, and the imminent personal return of Jesus Christ.

But that's what it meant. Clearly the term has come to encompass much more at least to the secular elite.

Does it mean "extremist?" Of course, the question must be asked whether something is extreme according to whom. Is it simply a subjective measure? It seems to have become commonly used by the news media to refer to any religious group whom they consider to hold radical views. Except what the media considers radical I think is any religious inclination whatsoever.

In a quick GoogleNews search I came across the term describing Islamic terrorists, Mormons, Republican Christians, human rights activists, and Baptists.

I think the screenwriter Brock summed up the supposed dichotomy well. He called it the "that tug between individual freedom and fundamentalist religion," and I think that for many a "fundamentalist" is simply someone who inexplicably refuses to be a libertine.

Has it really come to the point where anyone who takes their faith seriously can be lumped in with terrorists? Surely, the language has enough flexibility to have separate words to make a big fat distinction between me and Osama bin Laden. Or do the secular fundamentalists refuse to make the distinction?

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8 comments:

WillyJ said...

Usually, I hear: conservative, outmoded, archaic, out-of-touch... I think media's problem is to sum this up all together to come up with a neat label. "Fundamentalist religion" won't catch on, its not creative enough, plus its already taken. I think I'll just wait for the next one. Meanwhile I think "refuse" and "confused" go together.

Kevin said...

Well, mate, even if they weren't equating all religions with fanatical Islam, they're bound to destroy the names of books in movies. The name of the book is probably just a way to make money with the movie. Another insidious plan on the part of the Deceiver.

Anonymous said...

I suppose the producers of the corrected (cough) version of BRIDESHEAD will add some car chases, gunfire, and IL&M to help poor old Waugh along.

-- Mack

Anonymous said...

The "Get Religion" blog, which focuses on religion and journalism, comments on this subject all the time.

Yes, many journalists do seem to throw the word "fundamentalist" around very casually these days. It reminds me of a joke my parish priest likes to tell. "What's the definition of a zealot?" The punchline is, "Someone who take religion more seriously than you do."

On the newest Brideshead movie, I think it will be major disappointment. In Newsweek the director was quoted extensively in saying that basically he discounted everything Waugh said about the meaning of his own novel! Amazing.

Amy said...

Has it really come to the point where anyone who takes their faith seriously can be lumped in with terrorists? Surely, the language has enough flexibility to have separate words to make a big fat distinction between me and Osama bin Laden. Or do the secular fundamentalists refuse to make the distinction?

Yes. To secular fundamentalists, practicing Catholics are no different than Islamic terrorists.

If you practice, hold on to, and dare to profess your faith publicly, they're offended. They hate our faith. They hate that it "tells us" what to do and "controls" us - especially when it comes to sexual issues. No better way to shut us up than to equate us with bloody, violent terrorists.

Templar said...

If it hasn't come to it, it will, jut wait. It is inevitable. The more society teaches the empowerment and advancement of YOU over WE, the more society will naturally fall away from Catholicism, which teaches us to deny ourselves. The pressure on the Church will only grow.

As for the remake of Brideshead. Blah! They taken a story that was ONLY about how the Grace of God worked on Sinners, and turned it into some dreck about a power and control. Rent the 1983 BBC Series and enjoy a faithful adaptation of the book. If you must go see a movie you'd be better off with X-Files (said knowing full well what Patrick feels about THAT movie) ;-)

Greg said...

I believe we are seeing a shift in language. The democrats need faith cred and they will do it via language. Liberal christians will now be called evangelicals so that the DNC can say that evangelicals have "switched" to the democrat party. All other christians will now be labeled fundamentalist.

Anonymous said...

Better yet, just read the book.

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