Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Leaving Fundamentalism: Personal Stories

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Leaving Fundamentalism: Personal Stories

Article excerpt

Leaving Fundamentalism: Personal Stories. By G. Elijah Dann. (Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2009, Pp. xii, 226. CN $29.95, paper.)

In this assemblage of often quite revealing autobiographical stories, fifteen authors tell of their estrangement from "fundamentalism." In an introductory chapter, G. Elijah Dann, himself one of the fifteen, correcdy traces the term to conflicts between Protestant conservatives and liberals over the Bible and evolutionary science that culminated in open schisms in the 1920s; he also notes that this fundamentalism produced a more irenic version of itself in a "new evangelicalism" that emerged in the 1940s. More than half of the contributors come from these traditions. Dann also includes authors influenced by Roman Catholic (4), Pentecostal and Charismatic (2), and Holiness (1) traditions because of the nature of religious authority in those traditions, which he thinks justifies stretching the word "fundamentalism" beyond its original meaning. All are Canadians; nine are men and six are women; tiiree are gay or lesbian; and they vary widely in age and in the recency of their rejection of fundamentalism. Given the commonalities within North American Christianity, the Canadian predominance seems reasonable, though it means that a group like the Southern Baptists is not represented. Nor is there anything in any of the stories that identifies an author as a person of color.

These individuals describe diverse spiritual journeys, but with many common motifs. Most important is that they came to feel an intolerable burden in the absolutist trudi claims and rigid behavioral rules they encountered as fundamentalists. As one author explains her Roman Catholic childhood, "I was raised to believe that the Church was infallible and that you were to follow all of its rules. . . . You either accepted them all or you accepted none" (73). …

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