Doubt

[ now playing? ] robbie seay band – give yourself away

21st Saturday in Ordinary Time / 13th Saturday after Pentecost

Firstly, the new Robbie Seay Band album Give Yourself Away kicks some serious butt. Found on a forum that EMI CMG & Relevant Magazine are apparently giving away copies of it online (ironically given the album title but also in the vein of Derek Webb) at
http://emicmg.edgeboss.net/download/emicmg/emicmg/rsb/relevantdl/robbie_seay_band.zip

As with all good music, even if you d/l this sucker, I’d strongly recommend buying the album when it drops at your local record store (in the US, that happened on August 28; down here in Australia, give it about a month or so until it hits the stands at Word Bookstore or Koorong) or on iTunes. I know that’s what I’ll be doing in a month or so’s time when I pick it up along with “The Bearded One Band”‘s new album Remedy. “The Bearded One Band” being the David Crowder*Band.

Support quality music and the artists by picking up the legit album!

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This past week has been one where doubt has played more than a bit part. Strangely or co-incidentally or randomly (whatever you want to call it), there have been a few people who have written about stuff that has dealt with doubt in one way or another over the past week.

Bryan posted about a well known prayer by one of the people that has inspired me in my life, Thomas Merton OCSO. Taken from his book Thoughts In Solitude, I’ll reproduce it here for y’all:

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Then came the “revelations” that Mother Teresa, a Christian woman par-excellence, experienced doubt, loneliness and despair in her own life (Jason Boyett does such an insightful commentary of it) of Christian service to the poor and destitute of Kolkata (previously Calcutta).

Plus beginning my re-reading of Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion and beginning reading Dr. Francis S. Collins’ The Language Of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence For Belief and the words of Paul Tillich that have stayed with me since reading his Dynamics Of Faith earlier on in the year that “If doubt appears, it should not be considered as the negation of faith, but as an element which was always and will always be present in the act of faith.” (Tillich P, The Dynamics Of Faith, 1957/2001 Perennial Classics, NY at p25.)

Am I experiencing my very own “loss of faith” now? In a sense yes, for reasons that have to do with the church I am currently attending (and which I won’t go into too much detail online) and the call that I am still discerning about whether this place is where God wants me to be at for the foreseeable future.

There’s also a sense that I haven’t lost my faith because I can recognize that there is something which is tugging at the very innermost part of my being which still seduces me and which I let myself be seduced by (to paraphrase words words in the book of the prophet Jeremiah). The experential knowing of who God is and who I am is still there but as Merton prays above: “Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.”

It is this doubt that I am only truly beginning to come to terms with now.

The more I come to studying theology, in particular Protestant Christian theology, the sense that everything must come down to irreducible statements about who God is that one must subscribe is starting to make no sense to me. This dead certainty of Protestant Christianity (and I can also say hardcore traditional Roman Catholicism) which does not seem to allow any room for doctrinal or dogmatic doubt is something that I cannot reconcile. Nor for that matter on that little thing known as “God’s Will” which often at times gets hijacked by we humans to be used in the context of getting people to do what we want them to do instead of what God is asking them to do. If the doubt that I am having makes me less of a Christian than others, so be it. But I cannot live an “authentic” Christian life without acknowledging that this doubt is a real thing.

As Tillich continues on writing (and thus provides a great summary of this sort of doubt I’m currently experiencing):

If doubt appears, it should not be considered as the negation of faith, but as an element which was always and will always be present in the act of faith. Existential doubt and faith are poles of the same reality, the state of ultimate concern.

This insight into this structure of faith and doubt is of tremendous practical importance. Many Christians, as well as members of other religious groups, feel anxiety, guilt and despair about what they call “loss of faith.” But serious doubt is confirmation of faith. It indicates the seriousness of the concern, its unconditional character. This also refers to those who as future or present ministers of a church ([start]me: or any lay person with such an interest I’d say[/end]) experience not only scientific doubt about doctrinal statements—this is as necessary and perpetual as theology is a perpetual need—but also existential doubt about the message of their church … The criterion according to which they should judge themselves is the seriousness and ultimacy of their concern about the content of both their faith and their doubt.

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Other things I have read throughout the week?

Is God Provable? – Aaron Van Voorhis

Addicted to Money – Jesse Carey

Life In The Slow Lane – Andrew Greenhalgh

Pax,
+ bf 1215hrs

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