Friday, October 08, 2010

faith

I find it extremely difficult to talk about my faith.

When with those who profess to be christian, my instinctive suspicion is that they will have a very different take from me on what that means. For those who would not align themselves with my religion, I feel paralysed in anticipation of their views about or bad experiences of it.

My guess is that increasing numbers of churchgoing people have this communication problem. And maybe that's a good thing. I mean, I think people of faith need to find ways and be allowed to articulate that faith. But I don't think it's necessarily bad that those of us who've been in churches for years are finding ourselves less confident in our speaking.

Many christian words have been hijacked - perhaps especially "God". For centuries past, religious language was not deemed worthy to summarise such a concept. And I think we are coming to realise that we aren't fully qualified to do so, either. Many of our claims to proof and evidence have been undermined by science, by contradictory life experiences, by new discoveries about the historicity of the bible, by a postmodern, globalised society. Many of us have listened to speeches made on and off pulpits and realised the words spoken are not our language. All of us have watched dwindle the privileged position of the Christian voice in government, education, marriage, international relations. And many of us have not been able to say in all honesty that we think this is A Bad Thing.

All I know, ultimately, is my own experience. Which is informed by countless hours over many years spent attempting to communicate with 'God', reading the bible, socialising with others who call themselves Christian, attending churches, thinking deeply about who I am and why I am here and what the hell is going on. And my experience has deepened, not reduced, a conviction that I have been lovingly made by somebody with whom it is possible to communicate.

But I cannot claim much more than that. And those hours and years have left me a lot less sure of what I once thought I knew. And a lot more likely to accept that the other person standing next to me has something to teach me, regardless of whether they nominally share my faith. And a lot more hesitant about rolling God up into the words of my mouth.

Which doesn't mean, as I guess this post proves, that you'll get me to shut up altogether!

1 comment:

St said...

Anna this post is right on the nail. I feel almost exactly the same.