Daniel Larison tells us that there is a difference between fundamentalism and cultural conservatism. While I think he offers an interesting position, I’d also suggest that his working definition of fundamentalism is off.
The key characteristic of a genuinely fundamentalist mentality is its hostility to complexity, historical context and the possibility of a text being multivalent; fundamentalists are to some extent the terrible simplifiers of rich dogmatic traditions.
The key characteristic of a fundamentalist mentality, as well as that of most cultural conservatives that I know, is one of attachment. Fundamentalists may be hostile to complexity as well as any number of other things, but this hostility is rooted in fear. And fear results when any of us anticipates the loss of something to which we cling.
Surrendering those things to which we attach is the Liberation that Buddha, Christ, and the rest of the prophets, have spoken about so beautifully.
At least this is the story I’m clinging to.