Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Faith

Now that the ad is in the paper and the website is up, I've been waiting for someone -- anyone -- to call. The newspaper didn't get delivered to our house this weekend. I noticed the snowy, saran-wrapped bundle of newspapers still in someone's driveway when I was out walking early Saturday morning. A friend called on Sunday to say that the newspaper had mistakenly placed the ad under Pentecostal.

That explained a lot.

But in the meantime, it had given me another 24 hours to feel muddled about how I was going to find people to build this new meeting.

My husband just shrugs. Have a little faith.

Says he who hasn't stepped in a church or meeting since we got married.

Faith is one of those funny words. Post 9/11 had lots of news stories about people who had lost their faith. The shock of loss and horror had made it impossible for them to believe in God anymore.

But was the faith they'd had a house of cards? Deep down, they believed what everyone believes, just ordinary things. Natural laws, time, sequences of events, probability. The events of 9/11 just pulled out the bottom card, and it all came tumbling down.

Thomas Carlyle talked about "our spasmodic efforts to believe that we believe."

Churches (and many meetings) work hard to promote a church-constructed worldview that is at odds with our nature-based worldview. People can't believe what they ultimately don't believe. So then there is a need for more sermons, more Alpha courses, more Christian rock songs, more hype to keep propping it up.

People lose faith when a child dies. I've seen it, burned in my memory forever. I watched them pray that this child would be spared, would live. But the immutable laws of existence could not be wrenched from their place in the universe. Their faith died when they discovered that all those sermons about God answering prayers didn't hold true. At least, they didn't hold true for them in their time of need. Ultimately, nothing else matters.

Religions set people up for this kind of shock and despair. We have to take down the scaffolding, the winches, the duct-tape and have a more honest religion. We have to start admitting we don't have all the answers. Much as we'd like to have super powers, we can't change nature or the laws of the universe with our own whispered wishes. We are in this life, not in control of it.


Do I have faith?

Sigh.

Faith is that somehow, somehow, behind and beyond it all, everything's going to be all right. That's as far as I get.

I certainly don't feel faith; I just feel tasks and nudges. I feel truth too -- don't always like that one, but I can feel it. I just have a sense of something beyond, but quite honestly, it's seldom much more than a sense. That I am starting up a church/meeting without faith in the traditional sense attests to the strength of nudge and truth I feel.

But this, what I am doing now, it isn't faith. It's just wrestling.

3 Comments:

At 8:28 PM, Blogger Robin M. said...

The website is awesome.

 
At 12:17 PM, Blogger Sunyata said...

Thank you Nancy for this meaningful posting. It seems you brought this message to me as I have wandered in and out of faith. Previously feeling it was strong, then being crumbled but amazingly not disappearing...The pieces of what-faith-once-was are being reassembled and being allowed to-be.
It's Light never extinquished but continued to flicker so today I accept it-is-what-it-is, no expectations, no questions...just a flowing in my heart and spirit.

I so appreciate your sharing this day.

Sunyata

 
At 2:33 PM, Blogger Johan Maurer said...

I agree with robin's comment about the Web site. It's a beautiful and respectful tour through the promises and dilemmas of faith in these times.

Concerning faith: your comments resonate with me because for most of my life as a Friend I've claimed that the #1 Quaker testimony is trust (which I see as a near-synonym for faith). Before we can worship without liturgy or clergy or holy furniture, before we give up the protection of violence, before we can choose leaders based on spiritual gifts instead of social status, before we can learn the true meaning of "enough," we need to learn to trust. We need to trust that God loves us and can lead us in our daily lives, including our lives as believers. I wrestle constantly with the question of how much trust I really have--it's been the central question of my life from long before I became a Christian--and my attempts to grow as a disciple are really attempts to rest more and more in that trust.

 

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