What Do We Expect?

I’ve said this a few times (to say the least) before. Fundamentalists create more atheists than other atheists ever will. I was never quite sure why, but the answer is really pretty darn obvious.

Fundamentalists deal in absolutes. The Bible IS the word of God. It is absolutely true in every single respect. There can be no contradictions and no errors. Of course when proven not to be the case, the shattered believer applies the same demands on non-fundamentalist faith–proof.  And none is forthcoming, so they throw up their hands.

If there is no proof, then there is no basis for faith.

But really, fundamentalists are much akin to atheists in their thinking. Atheists always point to reality as that which can be proven. A science experiment either works or it doesn’t. It’s true or false. Something, someday, might be more true, but it seldom turns out utterly false.

The same is true of liberals and conservatives. Conservatives know what has worked, and what hasn’t. They KNOW and they don’t want to venture into not-knowing. They don’t like to take chances. They don’t like not knowing anything, so they often structure a world that contains only known things and they declare unknown things unworthy of thinking about.

Liberals don’t mind not knowing. They actually know that some things they may never know, other things will become known in time. They aren’t afraid of taking chances, especially when what is known produces outcomes that don’t work so well.

Liberals make fine progressive believers. They aren’t afraid of the fact that they may never know God in any significant way. It’s okay. It’s okay even if God isn’t real in the end. Believing and living a life based on belief is not a bad thing. As they see it.

Conservatives think that silly, and so do fundamentalists. So they set out to create a God that they CLAIM is knowable, fully. And they know God, or so they claim. They feel relaxed, confident, and somewhat puffed up by the fact that they KNOW.

The person who has had the fundamentalist theology explode into a thousand pieces asks what is not possible. They want answers that will fully satisfy them as their bible-thumpin’ ministers used to. And when they don’t find that, since living in the unknowing, is part of being a believer, they mope, and get angry, they argue, and they pout, and in the end they throw up their hands in disgust. The atheists are right–believers have no answers.

I don’t mean to make fun of or deride these folks. I feel deeply saddened that their personal, shall we say, brain pattern demands certainty. It is perhaps they way they are structured. Some seem to make the change, but most don’t. Not that I can see.

Buddhists are, in my opinion, rather expert in living in the moment, and not wasting much time worrying about knowing. If you can’t know you will be alive in five minutes, there isn’t must you can be sure about. There is much wisdom in that.

I’m in a place and time where I’m not giving nearly the attention to faith that I should. But maybe the point is that I shouldn’t be at all concerned. God offers me relationship, gracious and freely. Since I believe that, I expect God understands quite perfectly when my life becomes chaotic to the point that I only seek him for peace and sanity, and little more.

So, I’m okay with the limits on my prayer, meditation and reading of spiritual things. It will return when life is less hectic, of that I am sure. I don’t know if my notions are accurate or not, but there is nothing I can do to find out anyway.

God is there when I need it. At least that is what I feel, and what I believe. And in the end, what else is necessary?

Amen.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Have Myelin?
    Sep 04, 2011 @ 18:39:30

    I found your blog when I saw the line “Fundamentalists create more atheists than other atheists ever will” and came here to read the rest. I may hang around and see what all you have to say. I will read your blog

    I am trying to figure things out and I am questioning everything of course. My daughter died two years ago and if one more person tells me God needed another ANGEL I will slap him or her. As far as I am concerned, if God needed another angel he could have made himself one. I mean he’s supposed to be the Creator, right?

    But I don’t want to not believe. And I don’t want another Focus on the Family employee telling me that my daughter went to heaven “despite doing bad things” (really??? you know????) because she was an alcoholic (why does that make her a bad person?) but she wasn’t sure *I* was going to heaven (judgmental bitch, excuse my language) so I guess by working at Focus on the Family she has the inside pipeline to where we all will end up.

    I wish Focus on the Family would focus on their own family instead of the Broncos.

    Despite my apparent cynicism I am looking for answers but the more people talk, the more I run. I get bible verses about why my child died (whaaaat?) and it does NOT bring me comfort. What brings me comfort is friendship. Don’t try to explain away my daughter’s death…it makes no sense to a parent who has lost a child. They want their child back, not an explanation that makes no sense. It may make YOU (the speaker) feel better because it’s your personal religious views but maybe it’s not the parents views.

    Wow.. just so you know, I wasn’t taking this out on you LOL!!! =) =) =)

    However I strongly identified with what you just said. So hello! =)

    Reply

    • Sherry
      Sep 06, 2011 @ 11:43:43

      I am deeply saddened to hear of your experiences. It is, in my opinion one of the more unkind things to say that God caused someone’s death for his “own” unknowable purposes. What kind of God would that be? Not one I could relate to to be sure. I cannot begin to understand the pain you must still have. To lose a child is perhaps the greatest loss we can endure.

      My response to those who talk about heaven and hell, is that if God creates perfectly, than he must assume our flaws are not our undoing. If he does not, he’s not much of a Creator. It would be like God deciding that someone who is insane and thinks themself God is a heretic and sending them to hell. Is being insane one’s own fault?

      The folks who claim to know what is acceptable and what is not, seem to be to spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about other people’s behavior and fail to see the plank in their own eye a lot.

      Anyone who is so brainless to not know that alcoholism is a disease and has many aspects that are hard to overcome is not worth listening to. Often the person who condemns of course suffers from their own addictive behavior, it’s just something that is not yet condemned as “wrong” like being unable to control their eating. It’s all the same type of problem isn’t it?

      There is no explaining death. It is only a hard and ugly truth. Bad things happen and they happen to the good, the bad and the indifferent. They happen as realistic consequences of behaviors, and from a long list of innocent choices by myriads of people which all lead one to be in “the wrong place at the wrong time.” There is no answer, no explanation. Only the knowledge that we are fellow travelers, each suffering from our own demons and pains, and reaching out to grab a hand of another human being who can empathize if not understand.

      I deeply hope you find peace, and the words of someone that helps you. I am always willing to extend a ear, if it helps in any small way.

      Blessings, Sherry

      Reply

  2. Tim
    Sep 04, 2011 @ 23:39:18

    Sherry, I so love where this leads–to the faith that God understands where we are at all times and how that affects our relationship with God. And I would suggest that the confidence you express directly springs from a progressive faith that is fluid, not rigid, that enriches our understanding that our Creator is no less immune to change and growth than we are. I’ve come to think of the much-celebrated “fullness of God”–the “alls and omnis”–as capacity more than absolutes. As a beloved pastor of mine used to tell us, “God will be all that you need God to be.”

    I truly believe restricting God and God’s Word to a formulaic, one-size-fits-all paradigm–where everything is predictable and set in stone and all the answers are completely assembled and shrink-wrapped–puts God in a very tight box. And while God is not subject to the limits we imagine and rely on, they also put us in a very tight box, which is why we come up empty when trying to console others in situations like to like the one Have Myelin? describes.

    I believe God has good and perfect answers for everything, but my belief shouldn’t–and doesn’t–suggest I know what they are. And I’m certainly not going to complain or challenge God to tell me all the answers, as I’m sure I wouldn’t know what to do with them if I had them. Sometimes knowing we don’t know is enough, a blessing even, as knowing would burden us with accountability for situations we’d be hard-pressed to control.

    “The righteous live by faith,” we’re told again and again. In terms of your conversation today, we could put it this way: “The righteous live by trusting when they realize they don’t and may never know.” And I would say to my Fundamentalist sisters and brothers, if you think living by hard facts and fast rules is a tough row to hoe, you should spend a day with us questioners and trusters, ’cause it sure ain’t any easier in our patch of the garden. The beauty of where and how we work, though, comes once we figure out that a lot of our concerns are beyond us and we let them be. As Jesus taught us, you gotta let the wheat and weeds grow up together and in the end the Lord of the Harvest will sort them out. Not an easy way to live, but so much freer and richer…

    Sorry for the run-on. Once again, you inspire my thoughts and comfort my soul!

    Blessings,
    Tim

    Reply

    • Sherry
      Sep 06, 2011 @ 11:32:42

      Tim, as always, you offer so much wisdom. I have been so busy and so stressed as of late with this moving business that frankly, the computer has been my main method to keep my mind off all the worries that attend such a monumental cross-country plan. And it was with great relief that I realized, in my beginning to feel guilty mode, that God understood and was infinitely more patient than I. He offers continually to be that rock I can lean against until I can regain either strength and bearings to continue. We are making progress, but I have less patience oddly than I used to. I want to get started. all in good time. I thank you for you’re pastors remark. I shall remember it and treasure it as the days proceed.

      Blessings.

      Reply

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