New Age fundamentalism — wrapped in a cross
For as long as I can recall, I’ve been drawn to truth.
The arts and sciences, civics and letters; even music. The idea that, through these intellectual pursuits, I can have lasting impact on the world around me.
I was reminded of this while reading “The War on Science,” by Shawn Otto.
I’m reminded of the passions that drove me, from my earliest youth. Interests that, until this moment, I was taught were unimportant and unconnected.
I can recall the moment these truths were unknowingly sacrificed on the altar of New Age fundamentalism, much like that Otto describes; wrapped in a cross.
At 13, I was finally breaking out on my own. I had learned of the progressive movement the year before, and had come to the same conclusions I’d reached while watching Sesame Street, Reading Rainbow, and Bill Nye the Science Guy — life matters.
It matters more than money or power, the accumulation of stuff, security, or even White, Western dominance. Life, that isn’t limited to our humanity alone — but the life of creatures and our planet, as well.
I learned that, life alone has value.
These conclusions did not come easy for me. Being raised in a fundamentalist household where any voice that countered the great sages on talk radio or TBN were deemed as liberal, demonic, or none of my business.
If I dared to express views that contradicted these sages, as I did from time to time, I was immediately attacked as arrogant, ignorant, “thinking with my feelings,” betraying my faith, my nation, and even Western civilization itself.
Even when it wasn’t said to me directly, this “truth” was understood.
To stray from the dogma, was a sin met with real consequences, never to be forgotten.
As much as I despised these views, deep down, knowing they were wrong, evil even, I couldn’t break free. They had total control over me.
At 13, this light was dimmed by a radical, fundamentalist curriculum that decried the very scientific, intellectual pursuits I was fighting to champion.
The publisher of my 7th grade, homeschool “curriculum” was ABecka, a Florida publisher that has since become known for its Christian fundamentalist distortion of history, science, and even mathematics. At the time, they were lies I was taught to accept as the truth the “liberals” didn’t want me to know.
In addition to heavy attacks against Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Bill Clinton, with fawning praise of Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich, ABecka went after two of the most scorned thinkers of Christian fundamentalism — Charles Darwin and Karl Marx.
Darwin was crucified for his lack of mathematical knowledge, meaning that neither he, nor his “theory” of evolution could be trusted.
Marx was attacked as never having worked a day in his life (he was a lifelong editor, journalist, writer and thinker), with a heavy dose of anti-Semitic swipes at his Jewish roots.
Both of these attacks shook me. They shake me now, even as I write this.
Even then, I considered myself an observer and a writer, much like Darwin and Marx. I still do. I also struggle in math. I wanted to fight this, and for several months, actually did. But, since I was taught that the sages — who repeated much of this criticism — were never to be questioned, I didn’t.
For too long, I denied my path as an intellectual. As a writer of truth, in both fact and fiction. I created works that had no meaning, no focus, because it was what “they” wanted be to be.
A puppet of New Age fundamentalism, where truth was little more than whatever you make it to be. A world where any disease, any disaster, even financial ruin, could be avoided by a mystical, unquestioning faith in God devoid of ration or reason.
It’s when I at last broke the trauma bond that fundamentalism had on me (a process that remains ongoing), that I became my own person. I embraced the spirit of my former and current mentors, who in their own ways have taught me that life matters.
I’ve embraced that I am a scientist, an artist, a passionate activist and an intellectual. I tell the stories that change the world. Stories that allow people to see the world through another’s eyes. Stories that focus on compassion, love, empathy. Stories that teach, as I was, that all life matters.
From this day forward, this is my mission.