To be accused of being a “radical” is nearly as bad as being called a bigot, racist, Islamophobe, or homophobe.
Once an individual is no longer in the mainstream of cultural values, he becomes marginalized as a radical. What do we do to prevent being called “radical?” Most of us give up whatever we thought we believed in. It doesn’t matter that it is the culture that has deviated (i.e. has become deviant)from the moral norms of the previous 500 years in a radical way. It is those of us who choose to abide by the cultural and moral norms of the past 500 years that are labeled as “radicals.”
Even in the Catholic Church it is the Catholics who prefer the mystery, reverence, and tradition of the Latin Mass that the church practiced for over 1,500 years who are called “radicals.” Odd isn’t it. Those who deviated from a 1,500 year tradition are not radicals, but the ones who prefer that tradition are radicals.
The same weirdness applies to changes in morality. Homosexuality has been considered a perversion since the beginning of time. But the radical deviation from that standard has suddenly become a protected norm. And those who still hold to that multi-millennial standard are now called “radicals” and “bigots” and “homophobes. Very strange.
There are some beliefs and situations where “radical” is not a good thing. And there are some things where “radical” IS a good thing. Being “radical” in and of itself should not be universally condemned as taboo, although our society increasingly believes we should give up and care little about our highly valued traditions and faith so that no one can be offended or feel slighted.
I contend that so-called “radical Islam” (i.e. Muslims who actually understand and practice their ideology) is evil and rightfully should be condemned. A radical Catholic or Protestant, or Mormon, (i.e. one who understands and practices his faith in an exemplary fashion) should be commended for his faith, convictions, diligence, and perseverance. In other words, what a person is “radical” about does matter. Radical is not good or bad in and of itself. What is more important is the belief the person is radical about. There is good radical and there is evil radical.
Jesus Christ was a radical. His followers were radical. Devout Christians today are radical compared to the culture they live in. In many areas, such devout people are derided, scorned and hated. They have been and continue to be called “goody two-shoes, sanctimonious, self-righteous, bigots, infidels, and -phobes of all kinds. So be it.
This reminds me of Barry Goldwater’s berated quote:
I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.
This culture would prefer that all strong personal beliefs be abandoned in favor of the script dictated by government and the radical new cultural norms. Nuts!
My prayer is that Christians and Jews of all stripes become more radical than ever. That we awake from our pacifist slumber and stand up with the conviction of our beliefs God desires of us. Do not be ashamed or afraid of being “radical.” Shame and fear depend on what we are radical about. There is no shame or fear in being radical for good. Such radicals are to be honored and praised.
Several individuals come to mind in this regard. Congressman Allen West is one for speaking the truth about Islam in a highly intelligent way. Mitt Romney is one for being radical for promoting traditional morality and committing his life and resources to overcoming an evil and incompetent presidency. Franklin Graham for his courage in speaking out for Christianity in contrast to Islam for which he is ridiculed. Even George Zimmerman for his community watch function (that he is mocked for doing) and the price he will be paying for defending himself while providing a valuable service to his little community.
These are all “radicals” worthy of honor, praise, and our support.