Tuesday, September 09, 2008
'Tethered to Christianity'
"Do I believe the story of Jesus? Yes, in that you cannot drive me away from it; I simply won't leave. I'm having none of the darkness, even if I only live at the edge of the light. If belief is a hard and complex thing, also a unique and personal thing, then yes: I believe."
Read all of "Tethered to Christianity" by Gordon Atkinson, from The Christian Century.
Just . . . wow.
Faith is a stubborn thing. When I was in college, I went through an intense period of "non-belief". I even remember a night praying that I wasn't even sure there was a God, or cared if I did. I eventually found my way back to a faith of sorts, very different from the one I had up to the point I said, "Thanks, but no thanks".
Now, as a middle-aged father with a seminary education, I see atheists such as those you mention as those stuck, as I was, rejecting the kind of picture-book mentality of childhood, yet not having grasped that faith, like the rest of life, is complicated, filled with as many unanswerable questions as it is touchstones of strength, and never stays the same.
I suppose life would be far easier if I just chucked it all. Yet, I cannot, because there is this insistent little voice that still says, "Yes", even as so much of what surrounds me says, "No". Is the message foolish? That hasn't disappeared in two millennia. Is the message counter-intuitive? I think so.
At its heart, though - it's all about love, forgetting about myself and living my life as if it mattered what I did for others, actually being there for others. Theology is good and important, yes, and we should all be able, as the Bible says, to give a good accounting of why we live as we do. But that's only secondary. What is first and foremost is that we live our lives responding to this strange story of a God who so loved us that God became human, and experienced the one thing a God cannot do - die - in order that we don't have to.
"I'm having none of the darkness, even if I only live at the edge of the light. ... And I believe that the New Testament defines faith and belief broadly enough to include even me."
"He still drives his ship toward the horizon, mind you, but she makes him tack to get there."
And, I think, you could reverse the personal pronouns.
So much love pours out of that piece. It is the love of the parents, for the parents, and the love between the parents that eventually keeps the window open for accepting the love of God for the author.
This multi-directional parental love is something that we do not fully grasp as children either. Putting words on it eludes me even still as a father. Agape comes to mind.
I shall have to bookmark you, ER.
ps, great post.