Saturday, November 28, 2015
Religious Nationalists, East and West, are Spoiling for a Fight
Nationalism is the modern version of tribalism.
Religion is our most powerful cultural tool to transcend tribalism.
But tribalism is powerful, and crafty. It finds ways to co-opt every form of religion and cosmopolitan sentiment.
Thus, religious nationalism uses the terms and forms of universal religions to, ironically, support tribal conflicts.
Religious nationalists are usually kept in check by two unlikely allies: secular realists who oppose the utopian and apocalyptic excesses of nationalist religion; and truly religious people who oppose the parochial and violent excesses of nationalist cooptations of universal faiths.
But there is a cycle to human affairs. New nationalist generations arise who "knew not Joseph," who forget why the last great war was so terrible.
I believe we are entering such a phase now. Muslim religious nationalists, on one side, and Christian and Jewish religious nationalists, on the other, are spoiling for a fight.