For the past several years, I’ve found myself undergoing what can only be described as a thorough reckoning. “Do I really believe all this stuff?” is a question I would subconsciously ask myself as often as I ate food.
The question was in regards to that vaulted placeholder, “Faith.” It’s a catch-all for what could be all sorts of religious and/or spiritual practices. Yet the word — for a great number of Americans — is actually quite specific. It’s Christian-speak for born-again, fundamentalist theology. When someone asks you, “Do you have faith?”, what they are really saying is, “Have you been saved by the blood of the Lamb Christ Jesus?!” It’s less an earnest question in search of dialog on world religions as it is a tacit judgement for not believing in the one true religion.
So entering midlife, I now revisit the question of faith. What do I really believe? Anything or nothing, or something in between?
Answering the question exactly has been less important to me in recent years than examining why I’m asking in the first place. For instance, it’s really a fundamentalist position to even ask that particular question outright.1. With some distance from Evangelicalism, I have come to see this question as something of a false dilemma 2.
Why is that the only way to form the question? It’s a question that forces a binary answer, when actually in life there is a spectrum of answers. Life is complex and nuanced. Certainly too is any talk on god 3.
For myself, I’ve found The Liturgists podcast to be a balm. There are many, many episodes that I found myself either nodding vigorously or crying in consolation .
I had the pleasure of seeing the show hosts live in concert this month in Boulder. It was a quiet venue, small and intimate. They talked about deconstruction 4 and the wounds that Church so often leaves. They talked about LGBTQ rights and immigrant rights and the marginalized. It was, in short, a beautiful evening, not unlike church. It was a church service unlike any other, where misfits could gather, sharing their stories like eucharistic sacraments.
It’s precisely in moments like these that remind me that I’m not done with faith; albeit a faith that is utterly in flux.
- a similar example is the evangelizing opener: “If you died tonight, where would you spend eternity”, which belies all manner of religious dogma and assumptions, like the existence of souls, an afterlife, Heaven and Hell, salvation, etc.
- This refers to a common logical fallacy
- Here too, I bristle at articulating a conception of God, god, the Divine, YHWH, Allah, etc
- “Deconstruction” refers to the smelting of one’s faith to see what it’s truly made of.