Questioning Authority

January 12, 2009

We questioned everything in the 60s and 70s, but in the new millenium, it seems like a lost art.

I’m reminded of it after talking to a friend who’s having a crisis of faith, and as I gingerly get to know faith and trust, myself.

I don’t think it’s such a bad thing to question most things, including your faith.

First, it’s not like you really have a choice. When doubt crops up, it’s hard to pound it back down. Some of us have a really good mallet and can beat it back into its little box, but it’s not easy.

And, like a jack-in-the-box, it usually springs back up in the future, as with most things that are never really handled.

Testing anything seems like a good idea to me. When I test something, from love to work, I take it on a little obstacle course. If it falls short, I can usually identify the hurdle it failed to cross. Corrective action -or, in extreme cases, CPR–can be attempted. (Sometimes, though, it’s better to pay attention to the DNR sign. Do not resuscitate. Oh, we women hate to look at that sign. We can pretend we don’t see it for years.)

But I digress.

If, after testing, the subject emerges from the obstacle course intact, it’s that much stronger. I can pretty much depend on it.

But what about blind faith? (Yes, it was a psychedelic rock group I loved in the 1969-70 era, but that’s not what I mean.)

Thomas Huxley supposedly said, Skepticism is the highest duty and blind faith the one unpardonable sin.

I read somewhere that faith requires gathering all available evidence and seeing which way it points, then making the leap (of faith). Blind faith is shutting your eyes to the evidence, leaping in the dark and hoping it turns out ok.

I like to think I’m a logical person, and I’m pretty well-known for being able to connect the dots well.

As long as the subject isn’t me. When it is, all bets are off. I doubt conclusions that all evidence says are logical.

But when we talk about religious faith, faith in God, faith in spiritual matters, can you really gather evidence?

I think you can. You can certainly see where it’s pointing. Let’s take the Bible.

I am never going to be a Biblical literalist. For me, the Bible is full of teachings and inspiration. It’s food for thought. I do not think Jonah was swallowed by a whale. I do not believe Noah gathered two of everything and set sail. The lessons, however, are worth paying attention to.

But for other people, it’s absolutely what happened.

Now, we’re never going to know for sure what happened way back then. But we know something happened, and what we believe about what happened, the evidence, is the foundation for our faith.

I really don’t know where I’m going with this, except to say that I can see the distress my friend has over her crisis of faith.

And I do believe that when you question faith of any kind, the discomfort is a necessary part of the process. What emerges in the end may be different than what was before. But that’s probably ok.

Seems to me, you just have to roll with wherever it takes you.

Even if it’s hard. Even if it’s painful

“They never said life would be easy. They did, however, say it would be worth it.”

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