A Fundamentalist's Life-Story


A new reader writes:

I only recently (last couple of weeks) saw an interesting thread and book marked your site. I like the illustration in the right column with the laptop and dogs.  I noticed that detail before anything else.

I scrolled down far enough today to see comments from a reader attacking gay men (fags and fag hags comments) and learned you are gay. That may help me as an outsider understand your perspective better, but it shouldn't change anyone's interest in your journalistic observations.

I propose that we humans are typically so much more than any one of our many accurate and one-dimensional labels. Broader generalizations may be accurate sometimes, but usually stereotypes just enable one to avoid actually learning about another person's life.

In one dimension I am just another boring middle class white late 40s straight guy who grew up in the American South.

More than 25 years ago I established new friendships in college. Among them were the first gay and lesbian folks I'd ever gotten to know. My fundamentalist Christian upbringing strongly affected my perspective, but I couldn't bring myself to judge these persons who had already become my friends. Several of those friendships are still intact today. Those folks have had a profoundly positive impact on my life and are among my most cherished friends.

I carried my fundamentalist Christian early life perspective, along with my Jewish heritage and name, along with me to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer in a Muslim country.  The Muslim people who became my adopted family far from my original home are among the nicest most honorable people I've ever known.  My experiences in that setting again changed my life and allowed me to grow into a better person.

As humans we are all somewhat flawed and have our share of mistakes in our life experience. These days it seems a mistake to get aggressive in judging others' personal choices, predispositions, or cultural practices. I feel ashamed that we still semi-tolerate bashing of gays and lesbians or open hostility toward Muslims in our society. I am somewhat different from my gay and Muslim friends, but I feel very protective of them.

It is easy to look at Iraqi society and consider they have a lot of hard work to do to evolve into a tolerant modern society. When we look in the mirror, or at the newspaper, or at the screen we, too, have much hard work ahead of us.