Fanaticism

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I am a retired preacher.  Try not to hold it against me. I know many of you have had to put up with my kind and you may be tempted to immediately put me into some negative category you already hold dear.  Please don’t bother leaving me negative comments re: my spirituality.  I have lived a long enough life to have heard it all.  I promise not to disparage your beliefs.  If you are not open to spiritual reflection, just skip this post.  It is that simple.

Ok, so Sunday has been a day of reflection for me for some 40 years now…I am 61.  Sunday is a grounding day for me.  I do not belong to any congregation, nor do I attend services regularly anywhere, so it is important for me to take some time to reflect on how I live my life in connection with others.  Sunday is not a magic day…it is a familiar day, that is all.

I have much to reflect upon in my life.  I have felt blessed and totally abandoned.  I have been far removed from perfect, and I have hurt many people in my life.  I used to focus mostly on how others treat me.  I now see how what others think of me is none of my business.  I can do nothing about what others think, but I can change how I think and how I relate to others.

This is a common theme in most spiritual traditions.  But somehow the fanatics ruin what is meant to help us grow as humans.  What is a fanatic?

“The definition of a fanatic is a person who is overly excited and interested in something.  An example of fanatic is someone with a room devoted to Elvis Presley in their two-bedroom house.”  (https://www.yourdictionary.com/).

Replace Elvis with Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha or a talking tree.  The object is not as important as the conclusions one makes about the object.  Fanatics of any stripe believe only their belief structure is absolute.  I have been that person, trust me.

“Fanatics, ideologues and absolutists are humanity’s greatest scourge. Whether they’re the leaders or the followers, fanatics are people who indulge in a heady, intoxicating and toxic concoction of self-affirming, know-it-all confidence that they have unique access to absolute truths, truths so perfect that they have to impose them on everyone.  The absolute truths that fanatics latch onto might be religious or political, right wing or left wing, Christian or Islamic, libertarian or communist, new age spiritual or old-time religious. It’s not what they believe that makes them fanatics but how they believe it, that they have final word, no need to consider further evidence, no need to ever wonder or doubt themselves again.”  (from an excellent article at  https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/ambigamy/201411/fanaticism-is-disease-alcoholism

If I am to grow in my spirituality, I need to be open to different ways of thinking…contrary thinking, even.  That is my present experience, anyhow.  My journey is to become a better human, wherever that might lead me.  I am grateful to be in a quiet location in nature, where it is easier for me to be mindful of personal growth.  May the spirit bless you in your distinctive journey.

John, the ex-fanatic

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