fundamentalism and attachment

I find fundamentalism a fascinating phenomenon. I don’t often agree with fundamentalists in political ways, but they can be interesting people to talk to if you bring the right attitude.

Once, I met a woman who had such a commitment to such a narrow vision of Christ, I got curious: how did she come to be this way? She was Hispanic, but not Catholic, so she already didn’t fit my preconceptions at the time. I wanted to know more.

She worked at the CTA, was in her forties or fifties. She had a worked there a number of years. She had a single-family home on the Northwest Side, a husband, kids. Not a bad life. Orderly, predictable, generally happy. Probably voted Republican. She invited me to her church several times.

She didn’t talk about growing up. At one point when she was younger, she just started to want answers. She felt unsatisfied with just living her life without insight into ‘what it’s all about.’ So she started seeking, and she ‘found Christ.’

It seemed like she attributed her orderly life to her faith. It gave her a sense of purpose, of right and wrong, There were conventions in life, she followed the rules, and she profited by them.

From a rationalist, materialist viewpoint, you’d think, ‘How utterly benighted. This woman needs to cast off her blinkers and join the real world.’ From an integral viewpoint, many would probably say, ‘That’s a nice healthy Blue meme life.’ And in the back of their minds they would think, ‘Not for me, but you know, good for her.’

There is another way to look at this, that expands slightly on an integral view: what do I have in common with this woman? How can I find a moral connection with someone who thinks like this?

Here’s what I saw: she had her search for truth, and I have mine. Do I like the way I conduct my search better? Of course. Does her stopping point make me a little sad? A little.

But you know, we probably all have boundaries to the amount of truth we will allow. Most rationalist materialists I know (and I know a lot of them) seek truth in the material world, but don’t look very deeply within. They approach their environment with appropriate skepticism, but they accept the self as pregiven.

Integral folks have the boundaries of whatever model they use, be it Wilber or Edwards or SDi or whatever. They may accept that their model is limited, but most are not working hard to expand it. And folks can get surprisingly religious about this as well.

I’m not saying attachment is a complete explanation of all levels and ways of understanding Spirit and the world. I’m just trying to inject some humility and compassion into the conversation about levels ands values. When you look down on the limits of other’s vision (even in a very subtle way), remember the limits of your own.

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