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'Modern Fanaticism'

December 30, 1987

William Pfaff's fascinating piece (Op-Ed, Dec. 18), "Old-Time Religion Meets a Modern Fanaticism" introduces a novel and, I suspect, accurate connection between mankind's widespread, and all too well-documented fanatic preoccupation with religion, with today's equally fanatic preoccupation with the minutia of politics.

Political action committees and single-interest groups run roughshod over our politicians with very little moral, ethical, legislated or civilized control, much as unquestioned and fervently accepted religious leaders and groups lobbied, cajoled, fought for and won control in days of yore.

Substitute religion and move us back to the middle ages and we observe the same fatal attractions, passions and flaws in our attempts to define ourselves in regard to each other and the universe that we see being acted out in the theater of politics today. And, as before, we end up with fertile fields in which the blindly ambitious lead the intellectually blind (or is that intellectually challenged?).

Can we somehow move back from our political obsessions, such as the capitalists vs. the communists and the Republicans vs. the Democrats, and view them from a cooler and more rational historical perspective, much as we view the old religious wars between the Catholics and the Protestants, and, before those, the Crusades?

Are our outrages over minor indiscretions in our politicians' lives tantamount to drawing swords over the question of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

DREW RENNER

Newport Beach

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