Late last night in the haze of exhaustion I had a thought that went something along the lines of "fundamentalism shouldn't be a bad thing...it should be about getting to the fundamentals of an issue or ideal, distilling the essence of it. Why is that bad?" An example would be that (in my opinion) there are three Christian fundamentals: that individuals should come to know and love God, that individuals should love others in a God-like manner, and that Christ helps individuals achieve these through his teachings and his atonement. Others may desire to include more things, but I think that all Christians would agree that these things are at least three of the fundamentals. (If not, I'm sure a list of fundamentals which all Christians accept could be created with enough discussion.)
So, I asked myself, where does the negative perception of fundamentalism come from? It makes sense that some people could declare a set of beliefs or ideals like I just did and that others would disagree, but who started calling them fundamentalists? Shouldn't saying "right-wing fundamentalists" refer to people that have distilled a more moderate, all-encompassing set of ideals rather than people who have declared a more specific and less inclusive set of ideals? Doesn't that make their beliefs irreducible (or maybe even radical) but not fundamental?
Wikipedia helped me out here, teaching me that the origin of its use as we know it today had roots in the Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy in the 1920/30s within the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. Very curious. Regardless, I dont like the contemporary use of "fundamentalist" as a pejorative term. Aside from disliking name-calling in general, I think it's simply inaccurate.