As I said in my last post (How the Rose Opened), my nephew and niece unsubscribed to my blog after reading in my April 18 post: I don’t believe Jesus arose from the dead.
I contacted each to find out if what I believed changed our relationship. Not at all, each said. I still love you the same no matter what you believe. You’ll always be my favorite uncle!
They may be fundamentalists, but they know what matters. I’m proud of them. And told them so.
I’m not sure labels such as fundamentalist, theist, atheist, deist, pantheist, animist, environmentalist, secularist, or humanist are helpful. I don’t care what you call yourself or what you say you believe. Turn off the audio. Let me watch the video.
After all, you can don a tuxedo and still be a slob. You can wear an alb, a yarmulke, a turban, a hijab, a hemp shirt, or moccasins and still be an SOB.
Actions speak louder than words.
I like a lot of what Jesus said, especially this: They’ll know you are my disciples by your love. So much for reciting creeds, citing Bible verses, fingering rosaries, and going to church. Shut up and love one another. (Sign me up!)
Years ago at a wedding reception, a man sat down beside me. I really enjoyed the wedding ceremony, he told me. I liked your homily. I didn’t hear you mention God once, but you did mention love a lot. If I weren’t an atheist, I’d attend your church.
I understand, I said. But I want you to know you’d be welcomed. More than a few atheists are part of the congregation already. I myself am an agnostic.
You’re an agnostic?!
Yes. That simply means “one who’s uncertain and open to learning more.” I really don’t know much. I’m still learning. And actually, I think agnosticism is more honest and humble than atheism. I mean, are you absolutely certain there is no God? Have you looked everywhere? Behind every tree? Under every leaf?
I left the table to refill my stein. When I returned, my new friend had his back to me and was speaking to his wife. I’m not an atheist any longer, he told her proudly. I’m an agnostic.
In 40 years of ministry, I’m pretty sure he was my sole convert.
I only hope his conversion made him more loving and kind.
See Paula’s photo “Bluebell Forest” on the home page. Posted April 18
I think about religion and faith often. I have often described myself as being a pantheist because in all the reading of this worlds mythologies, I have found solace or armor in specific deities. Lately though I realized that I am an animist. Because so often I sit in nature and am filled beyond my physical being with the miracle of life. Because the movement of earth’s tectonic plates astounds me. Because a virus, that isn’t even an organism, can stop our man made systems of organization. I feel that there is spirit in everything. I understand in part when my friends who are deeply religious are filled with “the spirit” because if you are paying attention, this world we live in will fill you with all sorts of awe. It is beautiful and awful and so much larger than our tiny ant brains can take in. I don’t think one faith can fit all of that spirit in. It is a rushing spring and all the cups are running over and sometimes we are drowning. So you say agnostic and I say animist but the universe is awesome.
Pretty sure you had more than one. Took some of us decades instead of one conversation.
Gene, you got it exactly right.
Labels are limiting and too easy. And we all use them. Look at all the labeling that has occurred in politics over the past 6 years. It has been polarizing and inaccurate. As a social researcher I especially wrestled with challenges to our categories used to sort demographic data. And are the categories and resultant analyses even reliable or ethical.
Bravo! We are more than our opinions or labels. Alfred Lord Tennyson also reminds us of this truth: “There lives more faith in honest doubt, believe me, than in half the creeds.” Better yet, the words of Frederick Buechner come to mind: “Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving.”
Amen, brother! Could not have been said any better!
“We’re all looking for a sign, that will stand the test of time.
A simple situation, and a constant inspiration,
Nothing to pretend, a Love that will Never End.”
– from a song, “Love Don’t Come Easy.”
What a wonderful topic for discussion–theological labels.
The rose is magnificent–but is that the ONLY flower we want in our garden? Why do we need to package ourselves into one kind of seed?
I was born into liberal Presbyterianism, but at different times I’ve been a New Age devotee, New Thought spiritualist, Neo-Platonic Pantheist, Faithful Agnostic, Committed Humanist, Neo-Pagan Animist, and more.
Whatever I choose for the flavor of the day, however, is almost always prefaced by Presbyterian only because I value certain policies and practices of this tradition: a representative form of church governance, an emphasis on learning and questioning, and the resulting discourse from CIVIL argumentation and debate.
That doesn’t mean something better couldn’t come along. I wait, and question.
Oh, I relate and love.
I see proof all around me, in creation, that there must be a creator. It’s a reasonable assumption. I keep learning, growing, becoming more humble and hopefully loving every day. I love the term agnostic, now that I understand it’s true meaning. Yet labels are often divisive, misunderstood and make loving more difficult. So I will steer clear of the labels, and continue to explore myself, the world, and “all my relations”, as the indigenous people say. Blessed Be🙏🏼❤️
For me the question is: Did God create Adam and Eve or did Adam and Eve create God?
Good question !
I told a friend recently that I didn’t consider myself a Democrat nor Republican; my stance depends on the issue. Much in today’s world deals with unwelcome absolutes–you’re either this or that, with us or against us, you must draw a line in the sand and toe it! It’s no different with faith; many people aren’t comfortable being told how they should behave, let alone what they must believe, but it’s a daunting prospect to navigate this life with no spiritual compass. Agnosticism allows for growth, interpretation, ambiguity, and the autonomy to shape one’s own beliefs without having to walk alone and forego God’s company, whatever form that God may take. I think you may be underestimating your rate of conversion!
It seems clear to me that it was your loving-kindness that stimulated his conversion. We may trust that inspired like follows like. Love is transformative energy when we share it with others, after all, and no one forgets. Thank you for sharing the power of love. Love is one descriptive boundless “box” I don’t mind inhabiting!
I’m so proud of you for contacting your niece and nephew. Love can certainly overcome different philosophies.
Agnostic- a word that gives something for each of us something to “consider!!
For me – it all comes down to one overarching consideration – – “the Golden Rule”! And that common denominator- “LOVE”.
Thank you for another hole cut out of our curtain of ignorance. “Let the light shine in” and that’s what you do. Regarding labels, I like Popeye’s “I yam what I yam what I yam” Have I remembered that right?
Thank you for the laugh and always for the love. And I know for sure he wasn’t your only convert. I live with another.