Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Just Write: The riddle of faith

I just finished reading Ross Douthat, Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times and his take on Christianity, "liberal" Christianity in particular.  I've spent the past hour scouring articles about the Chic Fil A controversy, and somehow ended up here, reading about the demise of Christianity, at least in the eyes of American culture.  And I feel all fidgety inside, because I try to keep this blog from being about my political views, but when I read all the press and the barbed comments flung across social media, it's hard to stay silent.  

But I'm afraid to speak.

Seems these days, it's a classic case of "you're damned if you do, damned if you don't" when it comes to Christians professing their stances on some of the hot potato political issues.  Seems it's increasingly dangerous for Christians to say much at all, unless it's in line with the most current acceptable beliefs of our culture.  And more kudos are given to the Christians who can defend themselves with PhDs from the most intellectual, progressive universities, followed by a vocabulary that can keep up with all the academic lingo - well-versed, well-researched, hyper-rational, and above all, tolerant. 

As I write this, I can already feel readers bristling, preparing their defense or simply clicking the page closed.  What is she going to say that is bound to be so controversial?

Nothing, really.  Not today.  There are Christians out there that seem to thrive on their reputation for being controversial.  I am not one of them.  That doesn't mean, however, that I don't write myself into a controversy now and then.  I just don't go looking for it.  Usually.  

No, my thought today is woefully simple.  Far too simple, I'm sure, for the readers of Mr. Douthat's Op-Ed column.  I think all these highly intellectual articles and studies of modern or postmodern or liberal or whatever-you-call-it-these-days Christianity drive home some great points.  I'm not really trying to knock them.  I just think they are making it way too complicated.

I think Christianity, in its purest, truest form, is not a religion, but an identity and way of life for those who are willing to be childlike.  Who are willing to lay aside agendas and follow the One who is Love.  This is not an intellectual pursuit.  Love is a choice, yes, in the way diving off a towering cliff is also a choice.   It demands absolute surrender.  It will likely never appeal to those that require all of their sharpest intellectual inquiries to be accounted for before taking the plunge.  Not because Christianity is, as it's often mistakingly portrayed, a check-your-brain-at-the-door faith.  But because faith is just that.  Faith.  There will always, and I mean always, be unanswered questions to wrestle with.  It's not always rational, it doesn't make a god of intellect, and it's supernatural.  It's childlike.  And that's just plain demeaning for a lot of folks. 

So columnists and authors and bloggers and freelance writers and tweeters and professors and students and readers and politicians can debate it all they like.  And we can, by golly, even learn some great things and be intellectually and spiritually challenged by their debates.  But that's not ever going to solve the riddle of faith.  

Doesn't faith always looks ridiculous?

I'm still a Christian after all these years because somewhere along the way I fell in love with a God who invited me to become like a little child and live an upside-down life of devotion to him and love for others.   And, let's face it, if God were the one to make a list of rational and intellectual reasons why he should love me in the first place, or after these many years of daily mess-ups, it certainly wouldn't stand up under the scrutiny of a NY Times Op-Ed column.

Oh, and p.s.  I guess this probably is stretching the "free writing" theme for Just Write...but I did write it freely in the moment as I processed what I was reading, if that's worth anything. 

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