To follow up my recent post on the topic, here are some things I’ve noticed in the past couple of days suggesting that the threat of fundamentalism is not quite as severe as advertised:
- An agency of the English Catholic Bishops’ conference has put out a book denouncing the Pope and the Church generally for racism, colonialism, capitalism, and what not else. I looked at the webpage of the agency and it seems staffed by very nice, normal, well-brought-up women who think it’s their job to churn out the the usual bureaucratic drivel. It’s an instance of the routinization of radicalism.
- It’s not all Akinolas in Africa. Trevor Mwamba, the new head of the Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa, says “Most African Anglicans want to get back to basics and concentrate on poverty, disease, injustice and the need for transparency in governments.” You don’t often see Christianity identified quite so directly with general social betterment, but I suppose when it’s back to basics you cut out the rhetorical flourishes.
- And a recent poll says that nearly half the British think that religion is harmful. 28% of those polled believed in God, but only 17% thought the influence of religion was beneficial (about as many called themselves atheists). In a sense such responses are natural once you’ve identified “religion” not as an articulation of our most basic understandings and relationships but as some sort of extra layered onto a world that’s already complete without it. If it’s not needed, and it claims to be so important, why wouldn’t it just mess things up?