Fundamentalism has been in the news a lot recently. The horrific events in Norway have brought Christian Fundamentalism to the attention of the masses and Muslim Fundamentalism has been in the headlines since the reign of Ayatollah Khomeni in Iran in the 1980's. Fundamentalism hasn't been receiving the greatest press, which on the face of it seems a little unfair. Now, I am not condoning the recent atrocities in Norway or any other horrific act committed by so called fundamentalists, just trying to understand fundamentalism a little bit more.
This doesn't sound like the most promising start to a blog post but bear with me.
So, fundamentalism in a religious sense can be defined by the following statements:
- Their god or gods articulated their will clearly to their prophets.
- Followers have an accurate and reliable record of those revelations.
Seems simple enough, right? Fundamentalism, assuming the above is true, has no room for grey areas, it either is or it isn't. This post isn't about tearing apart any of the above, this post is about taking those basic statements and applying them to the modern world. Let's see how we get on.
Enter Eric, who is a fundamentalist flat pack furniture assembler. He has just gone to a major furniture retailer and made a purchase, now he has opened the box and is presented with a set of instructions. This is the word of god Ikea, articulated through the prophet Benno (an 80" cd tower).
Eric considers this to be a promising beginning to the words of Benno. Assuming the altar is pictured it is a little on the skinny but who is he to question. Benno must be a very important prophet as his name is in bigger letters that the great god Ikea's. Let's move on.
Wow, thinks Eric, there is a lot of information to process here, Benno seems to think that a picture paints a thousand words. Some words would help though. The first image must be Benno, who it seems is (or was) a carpenter. The second image is a little trickier, should one not urinate on things when you are your knees? Apparently stroking them is OK though. The third image is a little clearer. Benno is confused by the words of the great god Ikea, the telephone is obviously metaphorical. The fourth image presents many challenges of interpretation, has Benno failed some sort of test? Maybe things will become clearer later.
So this makes a little more sense, thinks Eric. Benno is to build something, and he will need these items. He is a carpenter, he will understand.
Eric thinks the great god Ikea has been quite explicit here. Twelve things need to be inserted into two long things. Ten other things interconnect with some things, OK maybe not quite as clear as first thought. Is Benno being instructed to build an altar?
Once more, this seems to be quite specific, and yet confusing at the same time. Twelve objects are inserted somewhere with the aid of a screwdriver. And then the pencils, is this some sort of test? Two pencils at the same time?
Hmmm, thinks Eric. So picture 5 is about direction. Is this the direction the altar should be facing? Or is it the direction one should be facing when one is at prayer. Picture 6 clearly involves six nails. Confusingly Benno seems to have taken on a more human form, is this significant?
Eric is becoming a little exasperated. The words of Benno are nearly complete and he really is none the wiser. What is one to make of this? The altar spoke and requested 40 things and this allowed something else to levitate above? Eventually leading to a number of arrows appearing?
Ah, thinks Eric, so this is a clear reference to the image on the second page. Unfortunately I am still none the wiser. Eric checks the box, what is all this wood for?
However, Eric has made more than one purchase. Perhaps Ektorp (Love Seat Cover) will have the answers...
So, Eric's fundamentalist approach to words has left him without a CD tower, but on the plus side he does have a huge quantity of discarded MDF in his garage. Also he has deduced that Benno was a carpenter. The furnishing of his flat is a little sparse though.
IKEA and their rivals really need to heed the basic tenets of fundamentalism, if they did Eric might get a CD Tower.
More soon dear reader xx