Ruthven, both Muslim and Christian fundamentalist traditions are underlined by a “myth of the golden age,” in which “the norms of the tradition are presumed to have held sway” (41). The belief in such a golden age is, in fact, one of the ten key characteristics of fundamentalists across religions (“10 Traits of Fundamentalist Movements”). In such a golden age, sub-traditions would not be existent. Instead, the eyes of a sub-tradition fundamentalist, the golden age would consist of the time when all members of a particular religion were aligned with the “truth,” or that fundamentalist’s sub-tradition. What sets a from a different fundamentalist is the fact that the a fundamental position on a sub-tradition, which is one of the categories of the ethos of religion (“Ethos”). For instance, both Protestantism and Catholicism are sub-traditions. It is, clearly, possible to have a protestant fundamentalist. Other than this distinction, sub-tradition fundamentalists share the other characteristics of fundamentalists. They are the following:

A reluctance to compromise, or agree that others views may also be valid

Don't use plagiarized sources. Get Your Custom Essay on
Characteristic of both Muslim and Christian
Just from $13/Page
Order Essay

A sense of having been chosen to fulfill a cosmic mission, or self-aggrandizing

A desire to shape the world in accordance with their worldview

A perception of violations to their faith and a sense of duty in responding, or further self-aggrandizing through seeing themselves as keepers of morality or order

A belief that they are the only people who understand the truth regarding the nature of the universe and spirituality

A negative opinion of others, strangers, or intruders

A desire to return to a “golden age,” a mythical time when everything was done their way

A desire to create a society ruled by leaders of their bent and unable to be challenged by the intrusive others

A sense of patriarchy, or further self-aggrandizing, as they see themselves as serving their innocent children who do not know the truth they know

A negative reaction to the modern world and a desire to conquer it and create a time in which their religion reigns supreme

1. Even though one of the characteristics of modernity is a weakening of spiritual beliefs and traditions, Smick argues that modernity can actually produce fundamentalism. This theory suggests that modernity, with its emphasis on science, humanism, and logic presents a threat to religion, and fundamentalism is the religious person’s response to that threat. In the same way, Smick suggests that postmodernity produces secular fundamentalism. Because postmodernity claims all things are equally valid, that truth is subjective, and that science and philosophical views are as strong as religious, it threatens the most vehement lovers of science, who feel threatened and respond with secular fundamentalism (“Schematic history of modernity and postmodernity,” Smick’s theses on modernity, postmodernity, and fundamentalisms”). In his article, “Secular Fundamentalism in America,” Gary Schneider implies a few traits of secular fundamentalists. He argues that they fight against any mention of God, religion, religious tradition, and holy texts in public. Schneider argues that secular fundamentalism is a religion that adheres to a strict set of beliefs, mainly that “God should be strictly excluded from civil affairs” (para. 4). This view of secular fundamentalism shares little difference with the traditional fundamentalism, with the exception of two traits. Secular fundamentalists are not patriarchal, as they accept modern gender standards, and they desire the modern age of science rather than wanting to overturn it (“10 Traits of Fundamentalist Movements”).

2. Adam Otto argues that every religion is an interpretation of the sacred, a “numinous phenomenon” that is at the heart of all spirituality. Otto’s interpretation would accept that all religious are valid because they are all simply different interpretations of the same thing. Otto argues that the sacred is a mystery, overwhelming if one were to be in its presence, and is fascinating (“Theorists of Religion: Otto”). In the Christian religion, this is true of the Christian God, who is often described as bright and awesome in visions, so bight that one cannot tear his or her eyes away. In addition, the concept of the trinity makes the sacred a mystery. The Hindu religion also shows an acceptance of the sacred as having these three traits. The many form-shifting, various god-personalities, and other spiritual beings are both overwhelming in their brilliance, as paintings show, and mysterious. Further, the paintings of these gods show them brightly colored and formed in such a way that they would hold one’s attention. Thus, many religions certainly do accept Otto’s theory of the sacred. Religious fundamentalists, however, do not. Ruthven argues that while many followers of certain religions may follow the same God, such as Jews, Christians, and Muslims do, fundamentalists from these religions are ready to come to arms about what that God’s desires are (4). This certainly does not show that fundamentalists recognize the inherent sameness that Otto proposes.

3. The major problem with fundamentalism is the fact that it “has been the principal source of conflict since the late 1980s and early 1990s” (Ruthvan 4). This problem is created by the traits that fundamentalists share — the fact they believe they are exclusively right, while all others are wrong. In addition, fundamentalists are incredibly vested in their beliefs as such. To combat this, it is necessary to encourage the adaptation of a view like Adam Otto’s view of the sacred. In as many venues as possible, those who are not fundamentalists must proclaim with emphasis the similarities among religions so that enlightenment may be reached. Further, Ruthvan points out that ethnic and national ties often compound this nationalism, so another way to solve this problem is to get at the root causes, such as poverty, poor access to education, and corrupt governments.

Works Cited

Ruthven, Malise. Fundamentalism: The Search For Meaning. Oxford: Oxford University

Press, 2004.

Schneider, Gary. “Secular Fundamentalism in America.” News Bull n.d. The Reality

Check. 9 June 2009.

All Notes Were also used