Monday, November 26, 2012

On Believing in Things

Don't tell anyone, but every now and again I have a little internal dialogue which goes a bit like this:

Do you know, I don't think I believe in God anymore. I don't know what else I could do, or where I would live, but I really ought to resign.

Hang on a minute. If there is no God why do I feel all conscious-stricken about duping a bunch of people who like talking to imaginary friends. It's a victimless crime to carry on acting as if there is a God and take the stipend and the nice house. Who would know?

But hang on another minute you fraud. If you do believe in God and there is truth in the Gospel then surely that very internal dialogue you just had was so disagreeable you ought to resign?

I can't resign for coming to the conclusion that I did believe in God. If that was the case then the only clergy still in post would be the ones who didn't believe in God.

At this point I disappear up my own fundamentalism.

Internalising discussions such as this helps us all to live our lives and come to conclusions about how we should live them. The important thing, as my disclosing that example demonstrates, is to keep it internal. Whilst intuitive personality types such as mine are often criticised for not showing our working, there are some areas of life where working is best kept away from the public. Otherwise you'd get:

Yes darling on balance and after due and careful consideration, I have concluded that I continue to love you, have found no other focus for my affections, and wish to continue this relationship. Happy anniversary by the way.

That wouldn't be good.

Because, when it comes down to it, the questions about God are pretty much digital not analogue.

He exists or not.

I believe or not.

It makes the very presence of a subject called theology a bit of a problem. The digital yes/no existence of God question, one which uneducated Galilean fishermen grasped, really shouldn't need so many textbooks to get right.

It either makes sense or it doesn't.

How many hours have we spent on the relatively minor and distracting issue that women might be bishops? Well hardly any in my case because I steer clear of that sort of thing in order to help more people with the primary yes/no questions of life; but you take my point I hope.

I can stay or leave. Another digital question.

We ought to toss coins more often.

Living realistically, theologically and spiritually in the light of this it should, no will, make no difference at all to me what decisions anyone takes about how to run the church to which I belong.

I believe in God. Today. Sometimes I chase around my head a bit the idea that I don't, just to check I still do. I commend it.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think, when you wrote digital, you meant binary.

St said...

You think wrong.

Jason Garrett said...

Explain why you think Anonymous is wrong, please, St. I also think you should have said binary.

Jason

RuthJ said...

A digit is a whole number less than ten. The binary system is one by which each group and sub-group is perpetually divided into two, the one with a positive and the other with a negative character. Two is a whole number less than ten. One could therefore argue that binary is embraced by digital. I am not a mathematician and therefore cannot be sure how the positive/negative aspect impacts on this. I have been accustomed to view binary as a system involving 1s and 0s. I am pretty sure these are both less than ten. Might I had that I am genuinely interested, not being awkward.

RuthJ said...

Having said which, a quick reread shows that the comparison is between digital and analogue. I'm not sure that a comparison between binary and analogue would carry the same metaphorical force. The visuals would be lacking.

Anonymous said...

For me, the choice of 'do I believe or not' has never been digital. I am sometimes 80% sure, sometimes 20%. But maybe the digital thing for me is 'do I choose to go with it and act as if I believe?' or like you are alluding to I think, do I instead bring out all my doubts in the open.