talking with fundies

Posting here a comment left on this post about fundamentalism by Vyckie D. Garrison. Thanks, V!

>>Editing to add: Vyckie and friends write and support women coming out of Quiverful fundamentalism at No Longer Quivering. Check  it out :)<<

It is true that when challenged on their narrow-minded views, fundamentalists will interpret such “persecution” as evidence that they truly know the mind of God and are righteously doing His work.It is also true that it’s possible for fundamentalists to change (as evidenced by Jane ~ and me too!) ~ often those who are steadfastly convinced and seemingly immovable are the very ones who experience the most spectacular collapse of their entire “biblical worldview.”A few more notorious fundamentalists who changed: Frank Schaeffer (son of Christian apologist, Frances Schaeffer), Nate Phelps (son of WBC fanatic, Fred Phelps), Bishop John Shelby Spong, Sue Kidd Monk (Dance of the Dissident Daughter), … I know there are others whom I am not thinking of …For those who have an opportunity to engage with a fundamentalist and want to make an honest attempt to break through the “stainless steel tube” which channels their every thought to the narrow confines of “biblical orthodoxy” ~ try these strategies:1) Ask questions. Don’t assume that you know what fundamentalists believe and why.There are two categories of fundy believers: those who’ve jumped on the bible-believing bandwagon as part of their salvation experience without really thinking through the whole fundamentalist paradigm at all, and those who have carefully thought through every minute detail of their belief system.By asking questions such as, “Please explain to me what you mean when you say that the bible is the Word of God?” or “Can you tell me the process by which you understand God’s will?” ~ you give the fundies in the first category a chance to start thinking about what they believe, and those in the second category will (as an automatic response of their thoughtful nature) quickly anticipate what objections you might have to their reasoning ~ and in the process, find the holes in their logic themselves ~ they may not admit it right away ~ but they’ll keep thinking about the problems until they either figure a way to justify and rationalize it or (and this does happen!) they have to admit to themselves that their argument does not hold up under careful scrutiny.

2) Translate their thought-stopping language.

It’s not necessary to be judgmental, snarky or condescending here. When a fundy uses “Christianese” ~ simply ask them what that means and then restate their response using ordinary language.

For example: When a fundy says, We love the sinner but hate the sin ~ ask for specific examples ~ what does loving the sinner but hating his sin look like in a real-life situation? After listening to the fundamentalist’s response, restate it this way: You are talking about making a distinction between what a person does and who/what that person is.

No need to be malicious or argumentative in your translation ~ this is just another simple way to get a fundy’s thought processes going again.

3) Use real-life examples to demonstrate that people and situations are often complicated and cannot always be addressed in black & white terms.

It is only necessary to make a single connection for the fundamentalist to the humanity of those outside their extremely limited point of reference to plant major doubts as to their absolutist idealism.

For me ~ it was a nun who came to my bedside after the delivery of my 3rd child. While she read a simple prayer from her prayer book for my health and safety, I was praying silently to God, “Lord, are you really going to send this gentle, kind old woman to Hell because she believes what the Catholic church taught her about who You are and what You require?” From that point on ~ even though I remained a fundamentalist Christian ~ deep down in my heart, I was a universalist.

4) Make it personal.

Fundamentalists are human ~ and as Brian McClaren states, we are all people in a predicament ~ only fundies can’t admit their personal predicaments because it’s a bad witness. So they smile and they tell you they’re okay and everything’s good.

But we know better.

Be the sort of compassionate, nonjudgemental person that the fundy can relax and be real with. If a fundamentalist were to admit her struggles to her “like-minded” circle of friends, the whole company would have to engage in a “the Lord works all things for good” dialogue of faith, trust and obedience ~ most likely, she’ll stick with the smile and skip the tiring ritual.

If you are honest ~ without the need to justify or rationalize or pretend ~ it will be a huge relief and a nearly-impossible-to-resist opportunity for a fundy to open up and be real too. If she can admit to you that sometimes she feels like sassing her husband ~ and you don’t make her feel like she ought to be ashamed for even thinking such thoughts ~ it won’t be long before she’ll tell you things you would never believe would enter a fundy head!!

Don’t beat her up with her imperfections ~ her own heart and mind are already doing plenty of that ~ not to mention her fundamentalist friends who are her only “support system.”

Didn’t mean to type so much here ~ Jane ~ :P Loved your post ~ and it got me thinking … What a relief to be finally out of the fundy cave ~ free to think outside the box of the “biblical worldview.”

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3 thoughts on “talking with fundies

  1. former fundy too says:

    This was just flat out amazing. Really good stuff, Vyckie. SO true.

  2. Dino says:

    I blog frequently and I really thank you for your information. The article has really peaked my interest. I will take a note of your blog and keep checking for new information about once per week. I opted in for your Feed too.

  3. Annette Williams says:

    Dino I think the word is piqued?

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