WARNING: Pardon the non-music-related post. Other things happen sometimes. I know a lot of you have no religious affiliation; conversely, a lot of you have very deep religious affiliation. I’m not sure which side will be more uncomfortable reading this. If you’d rather not think about it one way or the other, you have my permission to skip this one.
I went through a few boxes of keepsakes this week that I had saved from the ages of 0-24. Among the knick knacks: my first toy (a stuffed green bear named… Green Bear), Moccasins I made when I was 7, and a hundred love notes. Also among them, a bunch of my old writings and school assignments, a majority of which were about my faith.
See, I was raised in the Assemblies of God, which is one of the more fundamental of denominations. The Bible is inerrant, speaking in tongues is real, drinking (even a little) is a sin, healing and the casting out of demons still happens, et al. The concept of the “slippery slope” was alive and real in my upbringing.
I must take an aside to say that I appreciate my parents more the longer I live. While my dad was an ordained missionary with the A/G (and a rodeo cowboy!), he never seemed to me to be unreasonable, stodgy, or out of touch with reality. I’ve never heard him swear, but he is reluctant to tell people on airplanes that he is in the ministry because he doesn’t like how they treat him when he does. He believes what he believes, but he’s not going to scream at you if you have some theological differences of opinion. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever heard him “scream”, in or out of the pulpit. He has an uncanny ability to state deeply profound truth in really simple ways. (Not all A/G preachers had this ability. I remember asking as a child of 4 or 5 why a lot of pastors would end all of their sentences with “-ah”. Ex: “And I belieeeev-ah! That the Spirit of Gawwwd-ah! Is in this place-ah! glorytoGod-ah.” It seemed insincere, even then.)
I say all that to give a little background on not just my upbringing of faith, but the *kind* of faith. It was not a nod-of-the-head-to-morality, or a check-box on a census form, or a Sundays-only thing. It was a kind of faith that made it not-weird to pray about what I was going to wear to school that day. It was not a coat of paint, it was the foundation and framing of the house.
Every decision that I made was rooted in that foundation. I could reconsider the drapes or arrange the furniture better with each sermon I heard, but it was all based on the pre-existing foundation that the house existed.
Why am I telling you this?
Because I am thirty now, and cannot shake the fact that I have questioning my faith every day for months. It’s driving me insane (am I being literal or figurative? take your pick.)
i can’t pinpoint where it started. I could give a list of questions I have, but I’m sure you have your own and if my own experience is anything to judge by, I don’t want to contribute to you mumbling to yourself and sitting silently where once you used to engage the whole room.
But somewhere along the way, some really big questions crept in, and now it seems that *everything* is pointing me back to them. (“Yeah, you’re right; that couch does belong against that other wall IF WE’RE NOT ALL STANDING IN THE MIDDLE OF A FIELD SOMEWHERE!“) you can’t re-arrange any furniture or rip out any carpet until you answer that question.
Is the house make believe?
Does the house exist, but all the Palin-ites are standing with Pat Robertson in an adjacent field, selling real estate to the “room of the house with really fresh air”?
Are they actually in the house, and the rest of us are indignant that the house is so “exclusive and judgemental”?
Is it all one big house, different rooms?
Is furniture theology still true, irrespective of house/no house?
Here lies the paragraph I wish I could start with “no. here is the answer…” and proceed to impart to you all of the answers that my seeking has unearthed. But instead I have to say that my questions are only breeding more questions. Questions that I am not listing here. Not yet. Because I know the standard answers of both sides, and the opposing rebuttals. Who wins the argument generally depends on whose side you’re on before the discussion even starts. Much like the Republican/Democrat divide, I don’t want the party line, I want the truth. If I discover the truth aligns with one or the other, then so be it, but to start the class at someone else’s graduation feels like a rip-off.
Maybe that’s the point of faith. If it were certainty, it would be something else altogether.
But I can’t stay in limbo forever. Not given the effect it has had on me. I really do feel crazy.
Using the texts of my youth (1 Corinthians 15), I can leave you with one thing that I have found to be true.
“If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith… If only for
life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.”