…a survey that measured Americans’ knowledge of religion found that atheists and agnostics knew more, on average, than followers of most major faiths. In fact, the gaps in knowledge among some of the faithful may give new meaning to the term “blind faith.”
And this, from Adam Hamilton, a United Methodist pastor in Kansas:
“I think that what happens for many Christians is, they accept their particular faith, they accept it to be true and they stop examining it. Consequently, because it’s already accepted to be true, they don’t examine other people’s faiths. That, I think, is not healthy for a person of any faith.”
Why is it that this happens? I’ll tell you, it drives me C-R-A-Z-Y! It makes me want to be an atheist or agnostic, frankly. It makes me embarrassed. It makes me sad.
How is it that any faith group (and I’ll speak most harshly of my own because I know it the best) think they have a lock on God?
It’s short-sighted and naive, really. In fact, there have been points in my own academic career, particularly while working on my Masters in Divinity, that I questioned the study of theology at all; as if our parsing and defining and waxing eloquent could somehow explain something/Someone unexplainable. And why do we try?
For me, it’s the unexplainable that keeps me coming back. It’s the mystery and the unknowing that holds me captive. It’s in the vast spaciousness of my own darkness that I hear the whisper. It’s in my unexplainable tears at beauty that I sense something more. It’s in surprising moments when I am blindsided by how generous and rich my life is – even when I’m wringing my hands over money. It’s when I watch my nearly-12 and nearly-14-year-old daughters sleep – or sing – or talk – or breathe that I believe. It’s when I am convulsed in uncontrollable laughter with the man I love that I glimpse something deeper, truer, present. But I don’t begin to understand. I don’t say that I do. I don’t assume I ever will.
There are many times when my lack of understanding gets the better of me; when I consider not believing. But somehow, it’s because I can’t not that I continue on. Hoping. Wondering. Asking. Searching. Questioning. Doubting. Trusting.
And frankly, these are the conversations and relationships I pursue with fervent passion; hours of meandering thought with those who are asking right along with me. Sometimes radically different questions from significantly different places of belief – or lack thereof. No locks. No keys. Just a wide open door.
It is said that the gate is narrow:
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14, NIV)
But I’m a bit fonder of Eugene Peterson’s translation of the same two verses in The Message:
Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.
No shortcuts (or below-average test scores). No easygoing formulas. No locks. No keys. Just attention.
I can give that. I do.
And, just so you know, I got 9 out of 10 right on the quiz. I’m just sayin’…