watching this interview, you may find yourself asking whose
side Huston Smith is on. In the present atmosphere of
"with us or against us," Smith’s informed and
dispassionate take on Fundamentalism falls into neither
familiar, comfortable camp.
for the interview was a Phil Cousineau article, entitled Why
Fundamentalism Matters, for Parabola Magazine. The
interview begins with Christian Fundamentalism, a topic Smith
came to, in his own words, "loaded for bear," having
just written the book The Soul of Christianity: Restoring
the Great Tradition. However, the topic develops into
fundamentalism as it manifests itself in religion in general.
Smith is at
home in this interview in more ways than one. His seminal NET
series The Religions of Man, which formed the basis for
the book of the same name (now The World’s Religions),
blazed the trail for the now commonplace spirit of pluralism
in America. With increasing strength, he comfortably navigates
the currents of comparative religion. He is also literally at
home, the conversation taking place in his Berkeley living
room on an afternoon in June of 2005.
For the last
fifteen years Phil Cousineau has collaborated with Smith on a
series of documentary films, books, and lectures. Their latest
projects include the best-selling book The Way Things Are,
and the book and film A Seat at the Table: Huston Smith in
Conversation with Native Americans on Religious Freedom.
Some of Cousineau’s other works include The Art of
Pilgrimage: The Seeker’s Guide to Making Travel Sacred, The
Hero’s Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life and Work,
based on his long association with the great scholar of
mythology. His most recent book, The Olympic Odyssey:
Rekindling the True Spirit of the Great Games, was chosen
by the U.S. Olympic Committee as a gift for all American
athletes at the 2004 Athens Games.