Fundamentalism isn’t too violent, it isn’t violent enough
The title for this post comes from the title of one of the talks I have been giving on the ‘Lessons’ tour. The main gist of the argument lies in exploring how the fundamentalism we witness at work today is, at its core, a movement that conserves and preserves the status quo. Its violence at the subjective level (e.g. defending the evils of misogyny, homophobia, unjust conflicts and self-interested foreign policy) is the direct outworking of its ultimate impotence when it comes to instigating real change.
So, right off, we know what Rollins is both for, and against. Being for some things, we see that what he considers "real change" has to do with the acceptance of those things--so, for example, "real change" for him would likely involve the recognition and legalization of glbtwhatever relationships, a dismantling of the military and extreme pacifism, and foreign policy that feigns concern for others while spreading the poverty inherent in socialistic economic policies.
Any positions that go against those thing, then, he must per force denounce and, as in this topic, mislabel.
Take the example of so many wars today. Amidst all their violence they are more often than not fought in order to preserve the way things are, to protect people in power, or to accumulate more resources. Thus their horrific violence at the subjective level hides the fact that they preserve the deeper objective violence of the system itself. The bloodshed thus helps to maintain the injustice that currently exists, ensuring that structures of oppression remain unchallenged
Reading this, I thought of the scene early in Monty Python's Quest for the Holy Grail. "The violence inherent in the system, the violence inherent in the system. Look, I'm being oppressed."
But let's take the war in Iraq. Was that fought to preserve those in power? Considering that Hussein is quite dead, the answer is "no". Did it preserve the way things were? The ink-stained fingers of the Iraqis who voted for their new leaders tells otherwise. Did it preserve the deeper objective violence of the old system itself? No. If anything, it's those who want something like the old system who are fighting hardest against the new system.
In the same way fundamentalism, while violent at a surface level (at the level of everyday life) is simply a mask that hides the fact that it does not rock the very foundations of worldly power.
Getting back to the topic at hand, Rollins is obviously mistaken here. If anything (in typical liberal fashion, and make no mistake, Rollins is a flaming lib), the accusations he tries to make against fundamentalists are the ones most applicable to him and his ilk.
If anything, fundamentalists are the ones that can "rock the very foundations of worldly power", precisely because they are the ones who don't care to. While Rollins and company are playing "let's pretend to be counterculture while we try to make the culture in our own image", the fundamentalists, like Jesus, are not playing those games. Just as Jesus was not some kind of counterculture comic figure, but lived rightly even if it was against culture, so fundamentalists are more interested in living rightly no matter how cultural or counter-cultural it is.
Which is precisely where Rollins and his like go wrong (even more so when the culture does become like them and they go along with it in sheep-like fashion). Christianity is not about being counter-cultural, or even cultural. It's about being right with God.