“Questioning Faith” by Dorothy Deasy

In April, when I met with Dorothy and her husband Jim, I extended an invitation to her to be a guest blogger.  She has gracefully agreed.

The air is so hot, so still, then, seemingly from nowhere, a sweet, cool breeze sweeps our face, and we are refreshed, renewed.  When it passes, we are once again in the glare of the day but we have been relieved and await again, the next passing wisp of wind.

warmbreeze

So, too, it is with faith.  We can not tell nor predict from where it comes.  It seems to wash over us in moments unsuspecting and we are given hope in unseen possibilities.  Sometimes it is as simple as the ring of laughter or a moment of communication that comes without words.

As children, perhaps, we were told stories and we clung to them, repeated them, and this was our world of faith.  But as we age, the stories are revealed to be reflections of ideas, often idealized, and we put them away along with skates and yo-yos.  It becomes more difficult as we encounter suffering, loss, injustice and chaos, to believe in a magic order in the universe.

If we have eyes to, though, there are moments of grace.  Amid the despair, comes a still, small encounter and it calls us to question, to struggle and to wrestle with what we know and believe.  And herein is the true faith, the core of our spirits.  It is not in knowing and unquestioning, but rather in doubt and in participating with that holy and wholly unknowable force we call God.  We are called to be Jacob, wrestling with the pull between our baser instincts and our moment-to-moment decisions to contribute to a greater good, no matter how futile the attempt, no matter how small the effort.

It is those who doubt and question, but still strive to love, to contribute in service to others who enact faith.  Mature spirit learns to replace omnipotence with collaboration, omniscience with inquiry, and belief with comfort in ambiguity.  When we resist nihilism, when we reject an ideology of radical individualism, then we are able to glimpse that we are part of the greater whole, in unity with each other and creation, and in so doing, we help to create the next cool breeze.

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2 Responses to “Questioning Faith” by Dorothy Deasy

  1. rogerdhansen says:

    Dor, I always enjoy your writing. Your style is always very poetical and well thought out.

    In all respects, I have lived a sheltered life. Everything has pretty much just fallen in place with little effort from me. I was raised in a university town where all the high school students went on to college. I went on a Mormon mission to France/Belgium (the missionary work wasn’t productive, but the educational experience was). I earned a history degree from BYU. When I lost the military lottery, I was able to serve in the Coast Guard in Wilmington, NC. This paid for the birth of my twins and gave me GI Bill educational benefits. I then earned advanced degrees form USU in engineering and got a great job after graduation. For the last 20 years, my colleagues and I have been able to build our own programs. I have three children, all married, and 11 grandchildren. Everyone is healthy. I’ve lived a charmed life.

    My only early experience with poverty was at the age of 16, my parents took my brothers and I to Panama, Colombia, and Ecuador. I saw the physical beauty of the countries, but for some reason was unable to see the poverty. In high school aptitude tests, I was encouraged to be a social worker. In a college political science class, I wrote about the need for a hands-on, person-to-person form of foreign aid. While studying medieval history, I wrote about the plight of the peasants. But I never really left my middle-class shelter.

    It wasn’t until by sons graduated from high school that I started seeing a different side of the world. For a graduation gift, I took them to Turkey. Not a real poor country, but I started to get a feel for the inequalities. Subsequently, I’ve visited Bolivia, Philippines, Cambodia, Uganda, Ethiopia, and a host of other developing countries. It has not only been eye opening, but faith jarring. Previously, I had doubts, but my travels have cemented my doubts. I don’t think that my shallow childhood beliefs will ever return.

    My religion, if you can call it that, will have to be feeble attempts at serving others. Mormonism teaches that “faith wtithout works is dead.” I wonder what “works without faith is”?

  2. Gold Price says:

    This is an interesting line of argument, since it requires you to strip away your perception of your own ability to understand God. It is an indication, as far as I can tell, that you have had to retreat a good deal in your arguments for your religious beliefs, since it seems very close to the admission that your beliefs are irrational. A modern day Abraham would be considered psychologically unstable, subject to cruel hallucinations, schizophrenic, but at least he had firm reason to believe in God. If God spoke to me every now and again as he apparently did with everyone in the Bible, I would certainly have reason to think he exists. I could entertain the possibility that none of us can comprehend God and there are perfectly good explanations for all of these evil things he is reported as doing in the Bible, but I really think at this point you’ve conceded as much as is necessary to prove your beliefs absurd by all measures. What possible logic could you use to defend a belief which you admit is illogical as far as we mere mortals can see? The moment you start down this path – your very first sentence, no less – everything else becomes irrelevant. Perhaps you didn’t realise it but in making those comments you ceased to make arguments for your faith, and began to make them against your faith. Apparently you unwittingly joined the atheist corner in your counter-argument to it.

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