We are going through tremendous change in our world as the result of technology, Globalism, and shifts in the manner humans interact and relate. Throughout history, change has resulted in groups attempting to hold on to the past for fear of the future. No more evident is this today than with respect to fundamentalist religious zealots and CNN’s “God’s Warriors” addresses this theme.
Marshalls of change in the past had to face the fear of those invested in dated paradigms, and this clash is a motivating force for irrational destructive behaviors. This fear is the force behind terrorist acts; “God” has little if anything to do with it. In our era, the degree of change is more severe and rapid, thereby creating a volatile scenario. What are we to do about it? Brace ourselves. Humankind’s actions in the coming decades will enable, hopefully, a shift from the past, thus opening our world to an opportunity for lasting and unparalleled peace and prosperity. It will begin with increased understanding of our cultural difference that hopefully the new world will enable.
CNN’s six-house documentary, “God’s Warriors” offers an interesting portrayal of how followers of Judaism, Islam and Christianity have a common dissatisfaction with modern, secular society. In her introduction to all the segments, Amanpour defines God’s Warrior’s with the following observation: “Over the last 30 years, each faith, Judaism, Islam and Christianity, has exploded into a powerful religious force, with an army of followers who share a deep dissatisfaction with modern, secular society and a fierce determination to bring God and religion back into daily life, back to the seat of power. We call them “God’s Warriors.” “God’s Warriors” correctly identifies secular culture as the primary force that drives fundamentalists, extremists and even ordinary religious participants in various traditions to push for social and political change. How can we sympathize with this thinking though? Many secular parents are probably as unhappy that their children might be addicted to violent video games, or that their children’s friends are taking drugs or viewing pornography over the Internet.
A most interesting segment of “God’s Christian Warriors,” deals with the evangelist Ron Luce and his teen ministries. Luce expresses his beliefs to Amanpour about “virtue terrorists” who are “raping” teenage America in the streets, and he asserts that if his view of “purity” is “divisive,” he is just performing the will of Jesus, whose message was “divisive.” Interestingly, when they are discussing Luce’s live-in ministry program, where popular movies, television and music are prohibited, and where girls must dress conservatively and boys can’t use the Internet unsupervised, Amanpour tells Luce this makes her think of repressive societies around the world, like Iran. When Luce justifies the female dress code on the basis that the boys will then not be distracted by the girls’ sexuality, Amanpour replies that this is the same reasoning used by the Taliban. And therein lies the point; The difference between a Mr. Luce and a Mr. Bin Laden might not be as vast as one might first conclude.
Religious “fundamentalism” is a mostly 21st century response to the painful and dramatic change created by modernity. The trend was born among early 20th-century religious Zionists in Israel, biblically literate American Protestants and Iranian Shiites wary of Westernization. We must recognize one of fundamentalism's great ironies: though they ostensibly seek to restore a displaced, mythical spiritual foundation, they mostly and often re-establish that foundation using profoundly secular, pseudo-scientific means. Think "creation science". We must understand that for many people in America and around the world, secular society is experienced as a visceral assault to the senses, not to mention a direct challenge to deeply held values. Integration, which the revolution enables in a large and transforming manner, will enable the assimilation of changes. We must keep in mind, when the rubber hits the road in the Revolution, one must at times expect to smell it burning.