A brief look in the dictionary reveals this word's meaning as excessive irrational zeal, excessive intolerance of opposing views, great enthusiasm especially about religion, wild extravagant notions on a subject.
The idea of fanaticism began its tour through my never sleeping mind last fall. Since moving to Colorado in 1996, I've developed a love for the Colorado Rockies. This past season, their ever patient fans were awarded the honor of experiencing them complete the most improbable winning streak in baseball history. Excitement buzzed throughout my family's house and I cherished the thought of being a fan. I was/am a Rockies fan. It is a beautiful thing. My zeal is sometimes irrational. I am intolerant to opposing views. I hate the Dodgers, Padres, and Diamondbacks. Fans of these teams hold views which I am intolerant of.
Recently, I've begun reading a book about violence in Mormon Fundamentalism. These fundamentalists are religious fanatics. Their zeal and intolerance has brought pain, suffering, and death to many. Naturally, as a Christian, I can't help but parallel these religious fanatics with my own experience in the Protestant church. While the mainline Protestant and even mainline Mormon churches may not subscribe to this irrational fanaticism held by fundamentalists, it is still odd that there is a sense of fanaticism.
As evangelicals, we are often guilty of this zeal and intolerance. Yes, we may choose to peacefully coexist, but there still seems to be a mental intolerance that takes place. Very few Christians seem to be willing to engage in rational dialog regarding theology, philosophy, and scripture. Yes, we will discuss it, but only its merits. This is one reason that I am thankful for a small handful of friends with which I can safely engage in true dialog on all subjects. Instead of arguing or refuting my basic questions on the existence of a supreme being or the complex history of scripture, they listen and engage with me.
I'm continually intrigued by the fact that even though most evangelicals don't engage in behavior that the average American would refer to as religiously fanatic, there still seems to be a negative element of fanaticism in the church. I understand that as a die hard Rockies fan, this may sound hypocritical. The truth is, most sports fans know how to compartmentalize that part of their life so that it does not have a negative impact on those around them. It is merely for fun and to be part of a community of fans. Religious fanaticism, however, consumes all aspects of life.
I realize as I'm writing this that I have not necessarily thought all of this through. I apologize for the rambling nature of this blog. I'm just getting some thoughts out and would appreciate comments. Let us engage in some health dialog.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Chat with Tim Kurkjian
Sunday, February 3, 2008
Right now, just relaxing my legs after a day of skiing with people whose talent is vastly superior to my own. My lower half is numb, upper body is sore, and my mind is stoked to watch the Super Bowl. This first post serves the lone purpose of killing time before 4:00 Mountain Time.