Fundamentalism and Discernment

Faced with this uncertainty, ideology and the rigid mindset have an allure that we must resist. Fundamentalism is a means of assembling thought and behavior as a refuge that supposedly protects a person from a crisis. Fundamentalist mindsets offer to shelter people from destabilizing situations in exchange for a kind of existential quietism. They offer you an attitude and a single, closed way of thinking, as a substitute for the kind of thinking that opens you to truth. Whoever takes refuge in fundamentalism is afraid of setting out on the road to truth. He already “has” the truth, and deploys it as a defense, so that any questioning of it is interpreted as an aggression against his person.

Discernment, on the other hand, allows us to navigate changing contexts and specific situations as we seek the truth. Truth reveals itself to the one who opens herself to it. That is what the ancient Greek word for truth, aletheia, means: what reveals itself; what is unveiled. The Hebrew vowel emet, on the other hand, connects truth to fidelity, to what is certain, what is firm, what does not deceive or disappoint. So truth has these two elements. When things and people manifest their essence, they give us the certainty of their truth, the trustworthy evidence that invites us to believe in them. Opening ourselves to this kind of certainty calls for humility in our own thinking, to leave space for this gentle encounter with the good, the true, and the beautiful.

Pope Francis in Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future.