Monday, March 7, 2011

Inherent Doubt

I often find myself jealous of those whose faith comes easily, those whose faith is confirmed by a moment of experiencing the Divine, those whose conviction radiates indestructible, unshakable. I, in my own experience, can only note a few small moments, a few quiet instances, where something like warmth hints that there is indeed, something present. That is to say, I do live with doubt.

I distinctly remember the first time I plopped down in Brother Larry's office, confused, frustrated, and demanding: "Larry! Where is hell!? I mean, in the cosmos, in the solar system?!" It was a crisis of faith. And so began a long list of questions that were hard to answer, even harder to think about, and even harder to feel, when they brought into question the very foundation of my entire belief system. For a while, I carried a certain amount of guilt regarding these questions, wondering if it made me less faithful. With time, as I sat with the doubt and let it rest in my mind, and as I resigned to it staying with me, I learned. I followed the questions. The doubt was bringing me closer to the Divine. I make no claim that I have answered any of these questions, or that I ever will. However, I do think wrestling with them has brought me closer to something real.

It was not until I was in conversation with a friend of mine that I really realized what this doubt had done for me and for my faith. My intuitive, atheist, friend offered, "Well, you know that I inherently doubt everything." His innocent claim of doubt brought about my thoughts on the subject. I realized that this atheist had probably thought more often, and more deeply about topics of theology and the cosmos than many of the Christians of whom I found myself jealous. What a benevolent gift it is that we humans are blessed with an intuitive, questioning mind! What a boon for a faithful heart to be able to dig deeply and to grapple with questions of faith and existence!

To quote Dean Robert A. Hill, quoting Rev. John Wesley: "Preach it until you believe it, and then preach it because you believe it." At first glance, slightly different view of how one can approach belief, I find a common thread: Continuity. All things in life are a process, almost nothing is static. Why would faith ever be any different? The connection, as I see it, could be that the questioning, the doubting, and all the angst involved with those things, spur a process of faith, not a crisis of faith. Wesley's words provide us with a 'don't give up' attitude; an attitude that accepts the realities of doubt and the challenges of a deeper faith while encouraging us to carry on all the while.

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