Another column for Patheos — this one might be a bit controversial — I originally titled it Is Contemplation the Enemy of Fundamentalism? but the Patheos editors shortened that to the slightly more provocative Fundamentalism vs. Contemplation? There’s a bit of a backstory here. At work I’ve had a couple of run-ins with fundamentalist persons lately, usually complaining because we are a Catholic store but sell books on other religions. I also recently read a baldly mean-spirited blog post from a fundamentalist Catholic blogger that left me feeling profoundly sad. So I felt led to comment on how fundamentalism and contemplation represent two fundamentally different spiritual perspectives. I hoped for the article to be gracious; the first few comments give me cause to believe that I was, at best, only partially successful. As always, I would love to receive your comments, either here or at Patheos. Here is the link again: Fundamentalism vs. Contemplation.
The larger question here, as I said in responding to one of the comments: It’s a fine line, really. As a contemplative I believe it is my job both to love my enemy (and often, “my enemy” is not so much who I dislike, but who dislikes me) and to be compassionate toward those whose values and behavior seem objectionable to me. But where does love and compassion stop, and acquiescence and accommodation begin?
I believe it is important for contemplatives to take the high road whenever engaging in conflict with persons who hold values different from or hostile to our own. But neither should we run away from conflict, for it is only through honest and direct confrontation that we can create the space for the Holy Spirit to transform all of our lives (including our own). Of course, we need to learn how to fight fair, something that is often in short supply on the blogosphere! Anyway, I hope this article is more constructive than not — but please let me know what you think.