After being the one to pose this question to myself, I regret not having journaled much at all in the past year. Even though I reflect on my spiritual status often, the past year suddenly seems like a blur because I didn't commit any of my many reflections to a screen. With this caveat in mind, it seems to me like my faith hasn't been very dynamic for the past year. Our cohort's year anniversary is just about now, and I remember feeling really excited about the Kingdom at that point, but slowly my attention turned to other things, or I reached mental roadblocks that stopped me in my tracks. Nick (my husband) and I purposefully moved into a poor area of the city and after getting together with emergents regularly I was excited to beginning putting all of the many wonderful ideas of this movement into daily practice. And then guess what, this turned out to be difficult. It seems like what often happens, at least to me, when I strike out on some new spiritual direction, is that at first God and I seem right there together and I have this palpable sense that "Aslan is on the move." Then after awhile my sinful self gets more and more in the way, especially as circumstances turn for the worst, and then eventually I come to a complete stop. I feel like this has happened to me once again and I am very disappointed with myself for it.
A related difficulty I've also been experiencing is just having too much to think about. I could make a list of 20 paradoxes that are always hovering over my consciousness about modern capitalism alone, and I feel their weight pressing upon my ability to make decisions. While the deceleration and discomfort that this state produces irritates me, I also feel confident that God wants me to pass through it. It might not be a leg of the journey that everyone must travel, like Andrew discusses at the end of his post, but I think my faith would be absolutely paralyzed if I didn't make my way down this path.
Perhaps I'll share just one paradox, the most monstrous one that comes to mind at the moment. If Christ (both then and now) places so much emphasis on fruit, which I take to mean action that makes his Kingdom more present on Earth, what does it mean that I know people who seem to do more towards this end without believing there is any spiritual dimension to it than others who are devout but whose trees are whithered? This might seem like an immature question, I realize, because it sounds similar to classic questions of the religiously skeptical, but it really is a good question. Now that my paradigm for relating to the world around me as a Christian has changed, I don't really know how to relate to the world around me.
If I had to guess, I would say that my description of my current struggle resonates with many others who read this blog. I would welcome any solutions anyone has gained through experience. But let me end here with a ray of hope. Peter Rollins's The Fidelity of Betrayal is amazing for so many reasons. It seems like just the right thing for me to digest at the moment. Last night I was reading about his view of relationship between the Bible and the Word of God, and he talks about a cycle of engagement with the text that he believes all thoughtful Christians will pass through: an early stage in which one clamors for all of the facts of the text, believing them to hold the Word, a middle stage in which one becomes aware of how this cannot be the case because of the many valid problems with the text that are raised among academics, and then a final "second naivete." If I could relate this to my broader spiritual path, I would say that I have been in that second stage for a number of years and I'm really longing for my "second naivete," in which I continue to wrestle with the paradoxes of Earthly faith while being able to "bracket" (Rollins's term) those issues aside when I interact with God.
God Right Under the Ribs
3 days ago