Nicholas’ post here ttps://jessicahof.blog/2021/01/25/faith-examined/ is a fascinating one, but maybe I am not just speaking for myself if I say that as a non-philosopher, I found some of the terms rebarabative. I am so grateful to Nicholas for explaining them so well, and wasn’t, as it were, to riff off them to say something about faith.
In the first place by definition for me, faith is about a belief in something you can’t prove. It’s not like gravity. If you say you don’t believe in gravity, jump out of an upstairs window to check it!
I have believed in God longer than my conscious memory can recall. When I went to Sunday school as a small child it all just made sense if things. I’d always known I was not alone, even though I was an only child. Even though I had no mother, I felt there was a maternal love that was gifted me from someone. So when the Sunday school teacher explained about Jesus loving me, I knew who that someone was. It resonated with what I knew by intuition.
Was I indoctrinated? All I can say is that if so, it was a poor programme, as few of those who went to that class stayed with the Faith. I saw the other day that the head of the Humanist organisation in the UK, Professor Alice Roberts wrote about indoctrination in Church schools. That actually made me giggle. I can only assume that the professor has never been taught in one? Still, as she also likened the UK to Iran, and thought that the Bishops who sit in the Lords were part of the “goverment” maybe we should not take her too seriously? For sure, none of the Church schools I attended did much by way of indoctrination.
I actually loved school assemblies, but was one of the few girls who did. I also loved early morning chapel when I was a boarder, but again, was one of the few who did. In other words, while there was nothing in my environment growing up (other than my atheist father and a secular society, so nothing major then!) which militated against my believing, there was certainly nothing in the way of indoctrination. Indeed “Religious Studies” lessons were often more about other religions than they were my own.
It may be that I am just unusually suggestible. I loved my Confirmation classes and found them helpful. I love going to church. Communion, which I am denied at the moment, is so important to my well-being that it feels like the hardest and most prolonged Lent ever.
So, when atheists and others start up with the old routine of “where’s the evidence?” apart from their bad faith, as we all know there is nothing by way of an answer that could ever satisfy their sad reductionist idea of what evidence is, the thing that strikes me is the irrelevance of the question. The evidence is inside me. It is the love I know God has for me which draws my love out to Him.
The Creeds give me all the framework I need. I like my Church precisely for the reasons others don’t. It takes a very broad approach to membership. It often seems illogical and a bit vague on some issues, usually those where logic and precision might harm individuals. It gives a lot of voice to the laity, and it refuses (any longer) to torture itself over the place of women in the ministry, and in the absence of a Pope, we don’t get too worried about the obiter dicta of our chief Bishop. It still sees itself as a place where all who live here can go, and it allows you to come and go as you wish without too much in the way of expectations.
Most of all, it is a Church which recognises we are all sinners and which refuses, as a Church, to throw stones. There is a Judgement. But it will be God who judges, and if we are wise and humble, we will not attempt to anticipate it.
I believe because quite literally, I can do no other. There have been, and there are, times when God seems more remote, but I know why that is. He is where he has always been, it is me who has wandered off. But he’s there when I come back. There I have found praying the daily offices of the Church a real help. Even at the times I feel remote, I feel the connection tighten. Like any relationship, you get out what you put in.
As we approach Lent, it is a time to ask ourselves what we do put in? I am going to be running a Lent Book series, but more about that tomorrow. What we can all do at this time of pestilence and fear, is to be kind to each other, and loving, and examine what our Faith tells us about how we come through to better times. I am not sure that keep on keeping on is a philosophy, but it sounds awfully Anglican, so I will go with it.