First of all, read this.
Welcome back. I hope you enjoyed that. It’s a piece written by a girl from my town, a current student from my alma mater, a girl I just had the pleasure of meeting at my coffee shop and certainly a kindred spirit.
This post isn’t necessarily a response to her post. (If you know me, you know my stance on gay marriage, and if you don’t, you can read it here). Her blog post is just what prompted this one.
I wasn’t even going to go to my coffee shop today. But a belated birthday lunch of too much pasta ended with my regular need for post-food-coma caffination.
So, I made my way to my home away from home, and am now grateful for my choice.
After graduating from a liberal arts university, seeking out intellectually stimulating conversation becomes vital. University is a wonderful time of ideas and discovery and challenge. For some reason, those things become a beautiful rarity after our diploma is in hand.
So when I over heard my friend speaking with the philosophy professor of the other liberal arts university in town, I gravitated toward the conversation. Coffee shops are great for that; a welcoming community of seekers. It’s the university classroom for those of us not lucky enough to still be enrolled. (Okay, I am theoretically still enrolled as a graduate student, but my studies are all online, which, while convenient, is very devoid of personal community).
It’s there, in the corner of my beloved caffeinated community that our conversation turned to religion, the Church, Macklemore, international travel, and our hopes for a Faith that seems so often to tear people apart and drive people away.
My friend Katie spoke of her time in New Zealand last summer when she was chatting her fellow American travelers in a youth hostel. The issue of religious belief and affiliation came up, and the group became dismissive, cold even, toward the idea, as if “they had evolved past such an archaic idea.”
Her story resonated with me. I, too, have friends who are dismissive, condescending, angry even at the idea of God. I get the feeling that some think it’s “sweet,” or “endearing” that I still have faith in a classic diety.
They grew up in the same environments I did: conservative households, evangelical churches. And in a completely understandable notion, when they couldn’t rationalize those ideologies with their beliefs anymore, they simply (or not so simply) chose to reject them.
I get it. Many of the ideologies I was presented as a child as Truth are not something I cling to anymore.
Yet, still, somehow, I have this Faith.
And throughout the conversation today, I found myself wondering, “What if we were allowed to engage with this Faith, to wrestle with the ideas presented to us, to question and wonder and doubt and seek?”
Would less of my generation leave the church?
Engaging, questioning, doubting…this things are not encouraged in American Evangelicalism. Doing so somehow seems to call your true Faith into question. It pits you with the skeptics and allows you to be easily manipulated by false teaching, which quickly puts your soul on the fast-track to hell. Best to just stick with what you’re taught: nice, safe, Gospel Truth.
The trouble is…there are questions. There are doubts. In a global population of 8 billion people, there is more than one understanding of even the simplest of ideas. There is a deep mystery that we can never fully know.
And that mystery is beautiful. Because it allows us to wonder, to seek, to question, to explore.
Just this past Sunday, a friend gave a sermon in which he stated “and he (Jesus) was fine with letting them be mystified.” Christ rarely gave direct answers. He let his words sit heavily in the hearts and minds of his hearers. He left them wondering what on earth he possibly meant most of the time.
Yet somehow, now, in our enlightened age, that is not good enough. We demand simple black and white answers and are threatened when the answers of others don’t line up with our own. So we write them off and maintain a Faith that comforts us with security.
Those who are unwilling to do so have a hard time finding a home in a Faith community. So, often, they leave it.
What if they were allowed to wonder? Would the result be the same?
Perhaps. Perhaps not. I’ll let you mull that over yourself.