Sunday, May 1, 2011

Faith and Reason: A Crucial Balance (Part 4)

The conclusion.

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        Despite my doubts of inerrancy, I see a solid foundation of truth in Christianity. When I went to church for the first time, there was a moment in which everyone’s prayers seemed to merge into one. I could feel my heartbeat in my words, as if they had a life of their own. I lifted up my arms and felt as if I was touching God’s presence with just a brush of my fingertip. I used to be much more anxious and neurotic, but I now feel a peace I’ve never known. It’s not a placebo effect. I used to expect Zoloft to produce the same contentment, but it never did. All I can say is that God’s love feels like the Big Bang; like a whole universe bursting to life inside of you. It breaks you apart, showing you everything you are and aren’t and should be. While it cracks your spirit open, it also fuses you back together stronger than you’ve ever been. I wish for everyone else to share the same joy and to know they’re not alone in the world.
      Compassionate people and hateful people can subscribe to any faith, or the lack of it. There are “Orthodox atheists” who like to spread their gospel of like bacteria. They harass prayer request websites, telling you that you’re stupid to pray because there is no god to listen. There are diplomatic atheists who are horrified by such behavior and wish those bullies would demonstrate the tolerance they preach. On the flip side of the same coin, there are hateful Christians who believe a woman’s only purpose in life is to pop out little bundles of bigotry. They boast that God speaks to them, but “God” only seems to tell them what they want to hear. Marx famously called religion “the opiate of the masses,” but I’d say it’s more of a stimulant than a depressant. It galvanizes people into action, which can either be positive or negative. Faith is good for congenial, honest, and gracious Christians who seem to emit more goodwill than they can contain.
            Where do I fit in the spectrum? I’m striving to become the kind of Christian I admire. I can’t be a fanatic who attends Harry Potter book burnings and thinks it’s sacrilegious to eat deviled eggs. I suspect you reach that degree of fervor once you no longer recognize that fanaticism exists; once you think it’s impossible to stretch too far. I can’t do that. I’m going to read Harry Potter books and dress up for Halloween, but God is still my first priority. I’m born-again. There were some complications with my second “birth,” but thankfully it came to term. I just want people to know that God is deeper, richer, and far more complex than anyone could completely capture within a book. Faith is not an all-or-nothing experience. Doubting some parts of it doesn’t entail that you have to disregard the rest. If you want the discernment to know what to believe, just use the judgment God gave you. It all comes down to Him in the end.

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