Dear Zealots

Amos Oz defangs zeal, undermining it, by seeing its roots in every human being. All of us have an inner extremist. Recognising that we can become more liberal. If that seems too incremental, partial and vulnerable a response to threat, a stronger response makes us the image of the extremist.

While “no man is an island,” no one should simply be subsumed by the community, collective, Volk Umma or People. That is the desire of the fanatic, who desires our good, says Oz: made exactly like him with his understanding and outlook, we and the whole world would be blessed. I disagree, here: some Muslim fanatics want to defend the Muslims against the domination of the faithless, who must be driven back. The fanatic in Pakistan wants the blasphemer, often a Christian whose neighbours take against them and give the uncorroborated evidence required, put to death. But in each case there is a single idea of the good life which must be enforced.

Through my own ridiculous desire to call myself female, and the Jew’s dangerous desire to worship separately from the surrounding peoples, I know that the rational, obvious normal way of being can be a poison, and that allowing people to plough their own way is necessary so that we will not sicken and die.

And the fanatic view has enough power to bind together a community or cell and to continue despite oppression. That Addiction to drugs and pornography not only infuriates God but destroys the lives of the addicts themselves has a grain of truth.

My God is in my image as the fanatics’ is made in theirs: their God agrees with them about what is abominable- gender diversity, perhaps, just as my God objects to its suppression in the interests of freedom for all.

With whom do we sympathise? Oz, remembering being a child throwing stones at soldiers- the British, at the fag end of the Mandate- sympathises with Palestinian children throwing stones rather than just his fellow Israelis pointing guns at them. As a child in Jerusalem I myself was a little Zionist-nationalist fanatic- self-righteous, enthusiastic and brainwashed. Possibly his experience of the siege of Jewish areas of Jerusalem, violence against himself and those he loved, could have made him an oppressor, but rather he realised that there were more than one way of seeing things, and that gave him his open heart and capacious soul. Now he points to the source of fanaticism in his fellow Israelis, European Jews wanting to create a New Hebrew, and ultra-Orthodox fanaticism seeking to defend itself against anything different within a walled ghetto. Anti-fanaticism must begin with those with whom you have most in common.

Fanatics live in a black and white world, of clear Good and Evil. They are conformists. They want a Hero, a prophet or guide, to absolve them of the pain of thinking. Conformism, where we blindly follow, is a road to the fanatic exclusion of the Other, following celebrities or celebrity politicians like ABdP Johnson or Donald Trump, who entertain their followers rather than propose a beneficial, possible programme for government. These followers relinquish their right to a rich and diverse life, their freedom to think, to consider, to make choices and change their minds.

How blessed it is, to see the value of independent thought, however challenging or painful it might be, however inconsistently or incoherently one exercised it.

A sense of humour, and the ability to make fun of ourselves, might be a way to escape fanaticism. Or imagination, seeing the reality behind a slogan. It is easier to say “The Jews must kill all the Arabs” if you don’t imagine yourself faced with an orphan baby to kill. Curiosity might help too. Oz, the writer, tells of making interminable meetings in cafes of his parents and their friends go more quickly by imagining stories about people he saw. But others than writers might want to peep behind their neighbour’s drawn curtains, to find how they think.

But in enforcing these ways to cure fanaticism one would become fanatic- as we know what is good for everyone, they must be forced into our mould.

No man is an island, but Oz says we may be best as a “Peninsula”- close, without being assimilated. Everyone wants to influence others, and that is OK as long as we don’t force them. That balance, admitting the difficulty of drawing the line between undue influence and selfish independence, is perhaps the best inoculation against fanaticism: to admit there are no easy answers.

The image is taken from Paintings in Proust, who wrote as in the radiance of intervening light of a half-opened door, Venteuil’s little phrase appeared, dancing, belonging to another world. I love how the child in shadow looks out into light unseen, and the way the mother’s face is picked out by light against a shaded background.

How to cure a fanatic

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/6b/Durer%2C_adamo_ed_eva_ad_acquerello.jpg/395px-Durer%2C_adamo_ed_eva_ad_acquerello.jpgWe’re not the bullies. The “Gay” activists are the bullies.

My beautiful friend Pink introduced me to How to cure a fanatic, by Amos Oz. As there is only one fanatic I can cure, I offer this:

God created Heaven and Earth, and made humanity in God’s image: male and female created he us. In God’s image: we are loving, creative and powerful. We are beautiful. Since Creation, God has been tirelessly seeking to communicate with us, to bring us to our highest way of being. There are two principal ways in which God communicates with human beings in the 21st century: the person of his son our Lord Jesus Christ, in personal relationship; and through the words of the Bible.

I seek what is Right, the best way a human being can be, through relationship with God. In this, I continually fail: and God’s love lifts me up and enfolds me. God’s forgiveness cleanses me. I am perfect in my imperfection.

The atheist is also created in God’s image, but is unable to see the way in which God seeks to communicate with him. When they attempt moral argument, it is fatally flawed, because though they seek what is Good they reject the ways our Creator has given to find what is Good: His holy Word, in the Bible and the person of Christ. They are incapable of moral argument, knowledge or clarity. O God! Heal them!

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/09/1584_Cranach_d.J._Colditzer_Altar_au%C3%9Fen_anagoria.JPG/494px-1584_Cranach_d.J._Colditzer_Altar_au%C3%9Fen_anagoria.JPGMale and female God created us, and that creation is beautiful in its complementarity. The man fits the woman as perfectly as two halves of a whole, physically and spiritually. Two people become one flesh. A penis is perfectly fitted for a vagina, and the male character for the female character: Colossians 3:18-19, Ephesians 5:21-33– what makes that submission and tender care beautiful is human Love, a reflection of the Love which is God.

“Gay” people distort and destroy that. In place of the fitting love and complementarity of male and female, they put lust for a disgusting physical action, the misuse of their own bodies. This blasphemes the body made in the image of God.

“Gay” activists seek to pervert marriage, the symbol of the Godly union of a man with a woman, to their demeaning lusts. They demand that everyone bows to their idol: they are not satisfied with living together and pursuing their abomination together, they demand that we call their sin “marriage” and we participate in their “weddings”. They sue Christians who refuse to serve their blasphemy.

We’re not the bullies. They are.

Friends, this is not what I believe. I have taken something which is ridiculous- surely, no-one can believe That??- and made of it something I could almost assent to. I see that someone could assert it, without being a wicked persecutor. Instead she is someone who acts from Love to benefit us all.