Fundamentalist Appeal

Despite its deployment of some somewhat questionable history (as least so far as the Church of England is concerned) and no less questionable predictions about the current pope’s impact on the English church, this piece by Mary Eberstadt takes some beating as a glimpse into the thinking of a smart, conservative Roman Catholic fundamentalist. I couldn’t care less about the theological implications of what she is discussing, but what I do find interesting is the more important political, historical and anthropological question that implicitly runs through it. Does a religion have to be “strict” to flourish? Looking beyond (and not always beyond) the history of the three great Middle Eastern religions, I’d say that the answer is a cautious no, but it’s a question that in turn raises questions about exactly which psychological and social needs religion evolved to address. The answers are, of course, not always that comforting…

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