confirmation again

This post has been sitting as a draft since January 22nd, I have finally written its conclusion. I am working on an Easter piece that, may or may not, be posted soon...

My therapist has a repertiore of meaningful quotes that she is able to trot out into our sessions when needed. One of these quotes has intrigued and followed me for the past few months. In on of our times together, she quoted Thomas Mann as saying:

"A great truth is a truth whose opposite is also a truth."

Since the time I first heard that quote, I have been searching for what I would call great truths. Heck, I have been searching for anything I would consider a truth just to find out if it's opposite is true as well. As a result, I have been thinking about a quote from Paul Tillich. The problem I have had is creating an opposite of his idea. Here is the original:

"...serious doubt is confirmation of faith."

In my book there are two possibilities, and both hold some measure of truth as well. The first possibility is:

"...serious doubt is NOT confirmation of faith."

Basically, if you doubt seriously then you have no faith. Therefore, faith is the absence of doubt and the unchained freedom from thinking about one's faith or even what one believes in. There is no need for doubt if one has faith; indeed, there is no room for doubt in the life of a faithful person. In my book, this statement is untrue and it teeters on heresy. It is precisely because we doubt that we can have faith in something greater and more mysterious than what our feeble minds can comprehend. Alas, this statement does not prove that the original is a great truth.

However, when I orginally began to think of this statement I also thought of another way of examining its opposite (I began these musings almost three months ago and they are still incomplete in my book). I will admit that I had trouble distinuishing between the opposite and a negation of the truth I was trying to examine. Therefore, I came up with this other possibility:

"...serious confirmation is doubt of faith."

This one intrigued me, especially in the current socio-religio-political environment. When I think of the public face of Christianity (my apologies to all of the hard working lay and pastoral leadership out there), the face that is shown in magazines and newspapers, I see people who doubt nothing. That is not Christianity, nor is it faithful living. Moreover, inherent in the serious confirmation of anything is an underlying layer of doubt.

My experience of people who are adament about a particular position (religious or not) is that they are afraid. Fear is one of the greatest motivators in this world, and one that is used often in religious contexts. Furthermore, when one is afraid, they seek stability and security, where ever and however they might find it. So, when I see people of great rigid confirmed faith, I wonder what fear lies beneath.

Is it that they do not feel accepted by God, therefore they must make themselves superior to others? Is it that they fear losing what they have and as a result must "stand their ground" against those who would take it away by allowing people the freedom to be found by God? Or is it simply that their God is not big enough, and therefore unworthy of depthful doubtful faith?

Regardless, I think that I have found a great truth. As a result, I will doubt. It is not about doubting God into non-existence, but more about doubting enough to be able to see the miracles of God happen before me daily. The brilliant orange hues of a sunrise, the still sweet breeze of a morning walk, the smile and laughter of friend and family, all are more real through the presence of doubt. If I have it all figured out-- to the point where confirmation becomes serious --then there is no need for God any longer. Therefore, I will choose to doubt, to question, and to hope that what I know of God is but a little bit, and I will be surprised at the rest...

grace and peace



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