A significant flaw in my character is my affective response to religious fundamentalists. I tend to feel a strong repulsion or aversion to fundamentalist Christians and orthodox Jews. I don't really feel it toward Muslims, but that's probably because they were outside my repulsion radar for so long. My still limited experiences with Muslims have come as an adult, rather than as a child. Catholics are generally exempt--perhaps because their external religious paraphenalia has been so commercialized, so fetishized; perhaps because Catholic tends to be preceded by "lapsed."
As I've tried to reflect and work on my aversion, I've noticed that one excuse, even justification, I tend to offer myself concerns US militarism, US support for Israel, the plight of the Palestinians. These are clearly valid political points for critiques of state policy, but excuses for visceral reactions against people. To invoke them in such a way exemplifies "truth in the mode of a lie." So what then persists and infuses my visercal reactions?
Considering the question with respect to enjoyment might help. As Zizek has explained, hatred of the other is often hatred of the other's enjoyment. What, then, do religious fundamentalists enjoy that I do not? What do I envy? I think the answer is some kind of religious faith, commitment, and certainty. The fundamentalist and orthodox, at least in the fantasy that infuses my aversion, experience a truth of the world that I do not--which sometimes lead me to worry that I am one of Calvin's damned. When repulsion infuses my reaction in advance, I am protected from the deep fear of my own damnation, my own status as one of the lost.
The orthodox have a different relation to the world. It is a world involved in cosmic meaning and struggle, one where each choice and life can mark the presence of God. There is something wonderful here--the wonder of divine engagement.
The story of modernization as secularization has come under quite a bit of pressure in recent decades. We have never been modern. The world is not disenchanted. Religion pervades contemporary politics. Part of the weirdness and difficulty of the US war of terror is the instability of the binaries that might make it intelligble: is the conflict between the secular, modern, capitalist, West and the religious, premodern, traditional East? or is it between Christianity and Islam? The inadequacy of these reductions aside, we might note how they reinforce each other, the first securing the second from the charge of Holy War, the second protecting the first from the charge of callous opportunism.
And maybe they do something else as well: engaging in a war of religion protects us from nihilism, from a world without God. The more we fight and kill over religious faith, the more we are assured of its vitality, it's availability for us, when we are willing to accept it.