This is part 3 of a review of the chapter titled, “The Cult of Masculinity” from Chris Hedges’ book, American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. Click here for part 1, and here for part 2.
There runs through the fundamentalist belief system a deep dread of ambiguity, disorder and chaos. … It fosters a world of binary opposites: God and man, saved and unsaved, the church and the world, Christianity and secular humanism, male and female. These tidy pairings keep life from slipping back into a complicated nightmare. Reality, thus defined, is made predictable and understandable, something deeply comforting to believers who have had trouble coping with the messiness of human existence.. ~ Chris Hedges, American Fascists, p. 83
Black & white thinking ~ to me, this is the core definition of Fundamentalism.
Everything was either/or ~ which, as Hedges points out in his chapter titled “The Cult of Masculinity,” really does simplify the decision-making process and made our otherwise-overwhelming-world neat and tidy and easily comprehensible.
Hedges explains, “A world that can be predicted and understood … can be managed and controlled. The petrified, binary world of fixed, immutable roles is a world where people, many of them damaged by bouts with failure, despair and their own ambiguities, can bury their chaotic and fragmented personalities and live with the illusion that they are now strong, whole and protected.”
Having clearly defined roles and “bounded choices” was particularly appealing to me as a young college student trying to decide what to do with my future. My grades were excellent ~ I was fascinated with every subject ~ and I realized that I had great potential to pursue whatever career I wanted. The possibilities seemed unlimited, and truthfully, it was overwhelming!
How could I choose? I didn’t know where to begin to decide what would be the best route to go ~ and I realized that whatever line of study or work that I pursued would have an impact on Angel’s future as well as Warren’s and my own.
What if I made a bad choice?
So it was a relief to read “The Way Home,” in which Mary Pride explains that godly women really do not have unlimited choices. God has certain expectations for wives and mothers ~ obligations which provided focus and a manageable number of possibilities. At the time, the “God’s way vs. the World’s way” of thinking about my role as a woman was the perfect antidote to what felt to me like the tyranny of choice.
Better still ~ by digging into my bible in search of God’s best for me as a woman ~ I believed that my acceptance of His true calling on my life meant I would enjoy His protection for Satan’s deceptions. I felt confident that everything I did on a daily basis, from changing diapers to patiently working with Warren on the dreaded billing for the newspaper ~ all of my efforts were accomplishing His will and would produce Eternal fruit.
I KNEW that what I was doing with my life was the absolute best use of my time and talent.
“The movement seeks, above all, to banish mystery, the very essence of faith. Not only is the binary world knowable and predictable, but finally God is knowable and predictable.”
Here is the essence of Quiverfull:
“Since life has a way of not respecting these artificial lines, since ambiguity, inconsistency and irrationality are part of human existence, the only way believers can push forward is to pretend that these troubling aspects of our internal and external reality do not exist. They create a parallel reality, one that allows them to escape from the reality-based world into a world of their own creation.”