TQ: Religion in Four Points

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 10:53 PM

My answer to this week's meme from Mark.

1. What was your very first relgious experience that you can remember.
Anyone who answers Baptism, or equivalent for other faiths, will be sacked. ;-)

Baptism. :P Well, actually, that might be quite true, if I was a Baptist. Aside from being ornery, that would depend. Do you mean the first religious ritual I participated in in a meaningful way? I guess that would probably be a Christmas Eve or Good Friday service at some point; the candle light and darkness probably caught my attention in such a service long before regular Sunday services meant much.

2. What was the one event in your life where you made the conscience decision to explore your faith because you wanted too, not because someone told you too.

I don't think I've spent a lot of time not exploring my faith since Confirmation, which was probably the last time I was semi-forced to explore it (though after awhile that too was something I enjoyed). I'm just a curious guy, I suppose.

3. Was there ever a time in your life when you questioned if you had it right? If yes, what was that event?

Sure. Lots of times there are little nagging doubts, although not significant ones. Probably the last really significant time was one Easter evening a few years back — a dark cloud of doubt came over me, but only for the evening. Over the last few years I've picked up what a friend and mentor of mine calls the “nonchalance of faith,” I think. I don't generally question whether my basic beliefs about God are right, even if I question and explore some of the specific doctrines.

4. What is your biggest pet peeve with “religous” folk? General answers please, nothing personal or specific.

I think I most dislike what I'd call an overly strong air of “religiousness.” I become disturbed by people that always seem to jam a bunch of pious sounding words in their phrases (especially when it comes to group prayer) — it seems to me usually these people only sound “highly religious” and that they lack the substance of faith. Often they are self-serving too; for example, using the phrase “it's not about us, it's about God” to a complaint often means “I don't care if you disagree with this, I'm right” or “I know I'm stepping on you, but you should 'turn the other cheek.'” I should be careful here, because I'm sure I've been guilty of this too, but this would be my biggest pet peeve of those who are “religious” (be they actually believers or just people joining the “Sunday morning social club”).

Among believers, I would say my biggest pet peeve is anti-intellectualism. Christians are so worried that scholars are out to destroy the church (which may be true of some, but certainly not all), that many opt to basically reject any attempt to facilitate a dialogue or synergy between intellectual, secular pursuits and faith. In not so many words, the rule is that faith must either dominate the other pursuits (hence “fixing” the results because the answer is already known and thus no investigation ought to be done) or the other scholarly tasks should be forgotten altogether. This is hogwash. That's not to say that the Bible is not the final authority, but if it is truly correct (and I believe that it is), we do not need to force everything else to affirm it. We should simply accept that eventually mutual affirmation will come about without any need of us “helping God win.”

I believe that lack of faith in the idea that fully independent means will eventually corroborate God's Truth (or at least never contradict it) has much to do with the modern caricature of Christians as lemmings without curiosity. If at times we were willing to honestly say, “Such and such is a mystery, and while we cannot explain how this works in God's plan right now, at least it encourages us to dig further into understanding God,” I think the world would gain a much greater respect for the Church in a way that is good. That is, it would not be the church compromising to the world, but rather the world seeing that yes, they too can become Christians without taking their minds off at the door to faith.

Note: I don't direct this at any of my blog readers. Really.

Note: The questions on this page written by Mark are governed by the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 2.5 license. I believe my responses are allowed under fair use and therefore are not licensed under the Creative Commons license (I don't want people messing with adapting my personal opinions, thank you very much).

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