I have talked about “Jason” on the blog before. He’s my Sunday School teacher in the church I am undercover in, and he also happens to be a co worker of mine, albeit on a different shift than I am on. Jason can be quite the paradox sometimes, in many ways, he’s a typical fundamentalist, but in other ways he can not only break the mold, but downright shatter it.
He was a theology student after spending several years in the US Marine Corp, and he intended to become a missionary after graduation. He has never said why exactly he left the college he was in a year before graduation, and I’ve never asked. There are times that he can put fundamentalist dogma over his sense of compassion, even for his own family.
I’ve had many discussions with him where he has stood by many of the more absurd tenets of fundamentalism like Young Earth Creationism (he is one of the few people who know about my de-conversion, it’s led to quite a few interesting discussions), not only is he a YEC supporter, but he insists the earth has to be no more than 6,000 years old, it can’t be 10,000 or 25,000, like some YEC supporters say, it must be 6,000, and he won’t budge on that.
Then again, he breaks from the fundamentalist mold in some ways. He doesn’t understand why fundamentalist parents push their children to marry young, he enjoys the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and John Oliver, despite their very liberal leanings, and his own personal sense of humor is well….. the best way to describe it is as being rather twisted. A fellow co worker of ours, a blue collar, non-religious kind of guy, who likes to party on his days off once said that sometimes he can get too vulgar even for him, and that’s really saying something.
He keeps that kind of humor limited to the workplace, and with people he knows would be more flexible about that, he avoids that when in the church, or around church circles, for obvious reasons. That’s why I recently thought he would appreciate the hilarious rant Middle Aged Idiots, by the popular YouTube curmudgeon TJ Kirk, aka The Amazing Atheist, (be advised, video contains plenty of NSFW language). I was telling him about the video a few days ago, and he seemed somewhat interested, until he heard the screen name of who made it.
Then he completely shut me out, “he’s an atheist, so he has nothing to say to me”. Never mind the fact that I told him that the video had absolutely nothing to do with his atheist beliefs, that he tends to rant about anything and everything, it didn’t matter. The guy happens to be atheist, so he won’t listen to what he has to say on any topic, even if he agrees with him.
In one short sentence, he summed up much of the close mindedness of fundamentalism, a complete unwillingness to listen to anyone outside of their circles. I was that way too, but after my de conversion, I started to realize that there’s always something that can be learned from most anyone. Sometimes people we disagree with can be right about something, or at least give us a different perspective on life. I enjoy hearing from people that I don’t agree with on spiritual matters. Some of my favorite bloggers are liberal Christians like John Shore, Lana Hope, Samantha Field, and Rachel Held Evans.
One of my favorite regular commenters on my blog is a Muslim, and I even check in from time to time to see what fundamentalists like John Piper are saying. It helps to keep with the rhetoric of fundamentalists, if for no other reason than to remind me how far I have come from those days, but it also helps me to keep up with their arguments and arguing tactics. It’s always important to know your opponent.
One of the biggest lessons I learned after leaving fundamentalism is that when you shut out the world around you, and refuse to listen to anyone who is not like you, you lose touch with reality and the world around you. There’s a lot that can be learned from interacting with people outside your circle of belief. I just wonder when fundamentalists will finally figure this out, but then again, they probably wouldn’t be fundamentalists anymore if they did……