The “Fundamentalist” as Other
I recently attended the Subverting the Norm II conference in Springfield, Missouri–a fantastic conference, which opened up significant dialogue. In the context of a panel on the “Death of God,” a surprisingly heated debate arose among the panel attendants regarding the proper theological relationship to conservativism. To what extent, it was asked, do radical, liberal, or emergent theologians (broadly speaking, the theological left) posit or create an Other in the form of the “conservative,” the “fundamentalist,” or the “evangelical”? Does the theological left rely upon a posited opponent or enemy who we can rail against with impunity, who we can demonize or, speaking simply, hate?
The defenders of the left sought to argue for the distinction between the critic and the prophet, the former stands outside of a community, posits this community as an opponent or Other, while the latter stands within the community, lives with and among the community. But, is such an distinction sufficient for eliminating what might be called the scapegoating of the right by the left? How can we on the left remain theologically honest, without becoming ideologically violent toward our Other?