Friday, December 29, 2006

Learning to love the questions

I am appreciating the deep and wide discussion going on over at "On Faith" about atheism. Though I was raised in a fairly religious family I attended a liberal arts college where expressions of faith were rare and most often viewed with concern. I miss the regular late night discussions full of passion, humor and dare I say love (agape).

Fortunately, I have been blessed with friends old and young, religious and not who also "love the questions" as the poet Rainer Rilke says in Letters to a Young Poet. I know that God is present in the midst of those discussions. At best the Episcopal Church is a community where people (those who are sure and those who are doubting) may find a place to discover the gifts of faith and community. Where the big and small questions are respected and truth is pursued with humbleness.

Here's what I had to say about Katharine Jefferts Schori's post at "On Faith".

Thank you Bishop Schori for articulating a strong yet respectful way of bridging the gap between believer and atheist. I am particularly grateful for this sentence,

"People of faith understand compassion to be rooted in God, but that understanding is not necessary to its expression in caring for one’s neighbor."

So often those who reject religious faith do so because of the hypocrisy and arrogance displayed by adherents. Rather than bashing nonbelievers, our focus as people of faith ought to be on being (and bringing) good news to the poor by living lives of compassionate service, justice and mercy. For too many the old hymn, "they will know we are Christians by our love" fails to describe nonbelievers experience of many Christians. As the Hebrew prophet Micah said of what the Lord requires "do justice, love kindness...walk humbly with your God." My close friends who question rigorously the existence of God are passionate about justice, are kind, gentle and humble in their living of the questions. May we Christians learn from all those (religious or not) who embody compassion.

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