Self Defense from a Fundamentalist Attack

12 Scriptures No Fundamentalist Believes

Part 5 “A time for every purpose under heaven”

The purpose of this series is not to attack fundamentalists. We can all be fundamentalists when we are afraid or frustrated enough. Fundamentalism is a survival technique that emerges when our landscape has changed so dramatically that we don’t feel we can cope. When our lives change too rapidly, most of us feel an urge to reduce our picture of the world into black and white simplicity. We stop wanting to learn anything new and just want to know the rules of the game. Some part of us yearns for an earlier clearer time, even if that time never really existed.

It is not easy living in Einstein’s relativistic universe. The concept of everything being relative does not sit well with our animal architecture. Like mice in a maze, we just want a set topography. Then comes creeps like Einstein and Darwin to upset our simple worldview. A shape shifting maze is our worst nightmare, so we seek out absolutes. We just want the rules to be set in stone and stop changing on us.

When times are complicated, it feels better to simplify our map of things. It feels better, but leaving details off the map actually exposes us to even greater danger. It is like closing our eyes to an oncoming wreck. For fundamentalists to deny evolution, or the continuum of human sexuality, or the relativism of the universe is all understandable. It makes the map simpler. Problem is, we don’t live on the map.

Enter Ecclesiastes, the Preacher, who tells us “there is a time for every purpose under heaven.” (Eccl. 3:1) Apparently, Ecclesiastes was aware of relativity before Galileo dropped the two balls off the Leaning Tower and began to unravel Aristotle’s simple map of things. The Preacher says there is no such thing as a rule that always applies. There is a time to build, and a time to tear down. The sixth commandment tells us never to kill, but Ecclesiastes winks and tells us there is a time for that too.

The Preacher isn’t saying that there aren’t set principles by which we can navigate through our journey, but that life is more like surfing than mechanics. A surfer has a plan in her head that she falls in and out of depending on the wave. Surfing is the art of finding your balance, losing it, and “falling” back into balance. There is a name for inflexible surfers. They are called “swimmers.”

Ecclesiastes is like the Duckbilled Platypus of scripture. It doesn’t fit into any easy system of classification. Only the Preacher would tell us that our fate is the same as animals’, and that the best we can do in life is eat, drink, work and love. Only Ecclesiastes would have a warning against getting too wise. Ecclesiastes is the skeleton at the banquet and the clown at the funeral. Only the Preacher would tell us not to make our ideas clearer than is this misty planet. Only the Preacher would tell us that to take life seriously, we must never lose our sense of humor.