Return of Extreme Religion

Light of truth

Manoj Francis
(Fr Martin Sankoorikal)

Modernity’s claim that one can obtain determinate meaning and certainty in any human field was in view of achieving a rational mastery over reality. In order to accomplish this mastery, the modern system itself had to exclude, expel, or negate that which was deemed to fall outside it, namely the non-rational or non-scientific. The univocal abstraction of modern enlightenment, with its singular approach to reality, resulted in a reduction of infinite richness of our experience, to homogenous, uniform determined categories. Moreover, modernity’s excessive emphasis on the autonomous nature of human subject has in a way undermined all its genuine relation to God and world, and effecting a consequent separation of faith and reason, grace and nature, subject and object, public and private spheres etc. Consequently fideistic forms of religiosity got dominance in many corners of the globe.

When fideism got dominance in religious circles, rationality was thinned down and religious rituals were relegated to the level of superstitions. The danger is that when rituals are reduced to some peripheral, repeated actions, sometimes devoid of any rational process, they ended up in aberrant superstitious representations. Consequently the mystery dimension of rituals gets exhausted. The fideistic and authoritarian religion in the middle ages and their misuse of power can be seen as the consequence of the separation of faith and reason. Pope Benedict’s Regensburg address sheds light into this issue. In a too rational world dissociated from faith, Pope Benedict predicts the emergence of extreme violent religion. When religion becomes fideistic and faith not informed by rational insights, then comes back the religious fundamentalism with its violence and invasion.

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