Fundamentalism v. Freedom

Originally appearing in Foreign Affairs in 1993, Samuel Huntington's much-debated thesis on global international affairs in the 21st century described a "clash of civilizations."


 

As part of a doctoral program in Global Christianity, our cohort is picking over and engaging a litany of books at the numerous intersections of global leadership. David Livermore's book The Cultural Intelligence Difference (AMACOM, 2011) unpacks the idea of cultural intelligence as the "capability to function effectively across a variety of cultural contexts."

Livermore says: "Tribalism and ethnocentric behavior are common vices across all people and times. But humanity also has an unusual track record for changing history. [Cultural intelligence] is rooted in the [essential] belief that people can change." True.

But I remain convinced that fundamentalism is the most devilish F-word of all—whether, as an ethos or ideology, it comes clothed in race, nationalist zeal, or especially religious belief. In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack, as The New Yorker's George Packer observed, this distinction (i.e. a focus on fundamentalism as ideology; in this case, Islamic extremism) will help us to be more careful and more thoughtful in the middle of our conversations and debates about "mitigating the astonishing surge in Islamist killing around the world."

In that vein, then, of those high school yearbook prophecies that more often than not get preceded by “Most Likely To __________,” I offer you:

 

Most Likely Point of Inflection to Be the Continually Relevant 21st-Century Discussion of Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” As Evidenced Most Recently by the Charlie Hebdo Attack in Paris

The growth of multiculturalism and globalization brings us rising levels of complexity and nuance. The ability to hold tension is absolutely essential. Fundamentalism—strict adherence to one’s view of the world as the only right way—is essentially a refusal to live in tension.
— David Livermore

The Islamic State: "We are the Ark."

The Islamic State: "We are the Ark."

Forceful Restraint

Forceful Restraint