Well, when it comes to faith, often times we don’t, and that’s what makes this conversation interesting…
How boring would it be if you and I both came to the table with an unwavering stance on faith — if you were firm on perspective #1 and I with perspective #2?
But that seems to be the goal of a lot of Western Christianity. To be the first one to the ‘right answer’.
Our spiritual foremothers and fathers knew better. Ancient Judaic authorities had a name for it: midrash. Though the word has a very deep meaning, one variant of it means holding a text and the narrative surrounding it with a loose grasp.
I love this analogy. Holding faith ‘loosely’. It’s fascinating when we can turn it upside down, examine it from different angles, and hand it back and forth so that differing perspectives could add to the complexity of this sacred discussion.
This is why theology and church overall can be so horribly boring — because we’re so terrified to be wrong, so we keep saying the same thing over and over again.
Please, be wrong. Take me somewhere new. Blow open the doors and dust off this old altar, preacher!
Confusion and wonder are essential elements of the spiritual journey in any faith. Christianity is no different.
I see theology as more art than science. Though both are important, our Western world has been going the latter direction for a very long time (and look where it’s gotten us).
I’ll close with a word by Lauren F. Winner from her book, Wearing God: Laughter, Fire, and Other Overlooked Ways of Meeting God.
As a rabbi with the wonderful name Ben Bag Bag once said of the Talmud, “Turn it and turn it, for everything is in it. Look deeply into it, and grow old with it, and spend time over it, and do not stir from it, because there is no greater portion.” Turn it and turn it — there is always more to see. This amazes me. This is why the Bible is different from Pride and Prejudice or Little Women. There is a lot to see in Pride and Prejudice and Little Women. There is much to see. But I do not for a minute believe that even the best novel endlessly overflows in the same way that the Bible does. This amazes me, this endless overflowing.