My jigsaw reading for this week was Understanding Fundamentalism by Antoun. I really enjoyed this reading and it indeed helped me to not only understand fundamentalism, but it helped me understand fundamentalists. I attempt to see things from the point of view of others, but I sometimes simply just don’t understand why people think or feel a certain way. It seems that Antoun went further into explaining the secularization our society is currently undergoing in order for the reader to better understand why some people fear and/or oppose it. Essentially, what he was saying is that our focus has shifted from relationships, religion, and human morality to production/work/technology, big government and corporations, and money. These modern aspects of society are viewed as most important in ensuring the success of our country and overall well-being, and going along with it is a measure of national loyalty. Antoun has termed this “secualar nationalism”.
Obviously, some see this move away from tradition as an indication that people are losing their morals and will sacrifice what is right for personal gain. I see both sides of the debate. While it’s no secret or surprise that our society is rapidly changing, especially technologically, have we indeed become increasingly selfish? Perhaps in some respects. However, although fundamentalists reject the concept of pluralism and globalization, they are very real consequences of the increase in technology. That being said, I think the move away from tradition and the need for increased acceptance of other viewpoints isn’t all that bad. In fact, I think it may be used as a defense mechanism. Since we can now connect with people all over the world, if we were always worried about worldviews which don’t align with our own and what that may mean for the individual, we would probably all have incredibly high anxiety. I can understand the fear that we are living too much for material possession and personal gain and what that may be doing to our psyche. However, it does seem that to a degree, we may be forced to “go with the flow” or “move with the times”. Maybe the increased privatization of religion in our society is simply the way in which we’ve attempted to balance this need for tradition and the need for modernization.