Tuesday, January 03, 2012

January 3rd Faith

I have to ease myself into it. Like getting into a too-hot bath it has to be done gingerly. Subtle difference is that, once entered, a bath is by-and-large pleasant.

It's not the work I worry about. I can do tasks after Christmas. I can get stuff done.

It's the faith. Where did it go?

There are several mornings a year when I wake up not believing in God and have to do that Descartian locking myself in a metaphorical cupboard thing until I can face the possibility of spiritual questions. Not quite cogito yet. You?

Let me show my working. It may bother you but it gets me going.

Suppose there is no God. It's easy if you try. Then put on a dog-collar. Ha. Weird isn't it? Why are you wearing a symbol of spiritual support to others if you don't think there is a God? Take it off for a bit.

Now look around you. You have a job with very few responsibilities and a nice house and a salary that works as long as you are sensible or have a partner who works. All you have to do to keep those things is to make a few glib and platitudinous statements once a week and pitch up when expected at various occasions. Far more than you could possibly imagine can be delegated. Could you manage that? You may be a con-artist but you are quite a good one.

OK. So that's a starting point. You can come out of the cupboard now. You are a hypocrite but aren't we all? You know you have felt like this before and getting on with things will move you on, or at least has in the past.

Your next step is to decide if any of the things you are going to be talking about can be said to be true in any sense. The world kinda needs a meta-narrative and the Christian one is a good one. Triumph of good over evil; live pessimistically but hold on to a grand hope etc. If there is a God he would be like a good father; if he cared for us he would enter our world, his glory veiled possibly. So that was Christmas.

Just a few days ago I was singing that we might let:

Our happy voices rend the jocund air asunder

Tried it at Trendlewood Church New Year's morning. Never seen a bunch of people less likely to rend the air, jocund or otherwise.

Maybe others feel like me too. Or just went to better parties where they weren't the driver.

But that is where I have reached currently. There may be no God but I will carry on acting as if there is for a bit until he catches up with me again, or I with him. If he is there he won't be hiding.

I'll add some new bricks to this wall over the next few days. I thought it might encourage you to know that you are not the only one who feels, from time to time, that everything has been in vain, but your pension is probably not tied to it quite so tightly.

Happy new year.


RuthJ said...

The fact is that the world, grim and real as only a world on the first day back at work can be, is far grimmer if there is no God. It doesn't make sense either way, but it makes less without him.

Furthermore, if you sit in the cupboard a little longer (with or without dog collar), it's very hard to be sure that anything at all exists.

By continuing to behave as though God is there you strike a blow on the side of reality and meaning. This is, in my experience, a Good Move. Meanwhile we can be one in the dizzy-headed fellowship of Post-Christmas slumpfulness. If we exist, that is.

Anonymous said...

You preached a sermon once on 'think faithful'. About faith being a decision not a feeling. I think of it often. When life is tough , demanding or just dull, when there are no easy answers or quick solutions. When you wonder what people may think if they knew what was going inside I close my eyes and sometimes when just hangiing on with my finger tips I shout into the emptiness knowing in my head that God hears. Faith for me is the belief He comes. Maybe not today or tomorrow but sometime. Till that time 'think faithful' - we are praying for you.

nollybeau said...

We were away for Christmas and attended 3 church services involving 4 different vicars. I can honestly say that by Christmas morning I was feeling a deep yearning for the wit, wisdom, truth (even if it hurts) and 21st century realism of Rev Tilley. I'm sure their congregations like them but they were just so bland!
Thank you for your honesty that demands us to be honest with ourselves and God.
I promise to work on the jocundity thing.

Sally said...

In your ministry Steve your ministry lies in you being human. Thank you for this! You have the ability to connect with many others on the spectrum of disbelief - belief. In my understanding faith is not necessarily always being certain. I am personally interested in the sometimes rocky and changing faith journey intwined with the ineviable emotional ups and downs of life. Currently the New Year Seasonal Affective Disorder lull does not naturally trigger charisma and party excitment where our faith may be guided by our feelings.
At these times I find there are benefits of 'letting go', allowing ourselves to let go of ego and giving ourselves permission not to try too hard to make believe happen. (scarey if you are a vicar!) Instead coming back to a foundation of 'not doing' but 'just being' in meditative quietness, - for God to get under our skin, like the SAD lamps, working from within flowing to without.
If a clergy person thinks of throwing away their dog collar for daring to acknowleged a feeling of disbelief they will deprive us all of the witness of what faith is all about, - that is in the 'not always knowing'.
It would be an interesting study research project on clergy's certainty of faith and to assess the affect of a pension paid by the C/E where they perhaps feel they cannot acknowledge faithlessness out of a fear of losing their jobs!

I am self employed. I usually turn up to work whatever state I am in because I will not get paid if I don't. If I was offered sick pay when needed I may take the time out that was needed to revive through quietness of mind and spirit in order to find the balance again. Dog collar or not we all need to find our individual method of keeping our balance and receiving revival of spirit. We first need to acknowledge to ourselves normal and enevitable un ease at times. (Trouble is that we so often fear others who seem to practise faith with no doubt.)

So let us all project a more equal attitude - the truth is that sometimes we have great faith, sometimes we don't and we can still be committed Christians and not fear being defrocked or cast out of heaven. I am glad though the light box is accessible for recharging new energy!