land of rest

Land of Rest is a blog of Peter Jenks. Poems, quotes and photos are by Peter Jenks (unless otherwise noted or I miss noting an older post's photo) and are copyrighted, you are free to use these if you acknowledge their source.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Certain Thoughts

"Whenever people are certain they understand our peculiar situation here on this planet, it is because they have accepted a religious Faith or a secular Ideology (Ideologies are the modern form of Faiths) and just stopped thinking." - Robert Anton Wilson (as found on the website boingboing.net)

This quote reflects the reason why I oftentimes find faith and religious depth to be greatly lacking. Feeling that we understand God, life and what we are all about; or feeling so certain about our knowledge and experience that we peddle it as truth and divine is dangerous. Certainty does not make us one with God. In fact certainty shields me more often than not from the grace and humor of God. To be in love, to be alive, to be engaged, to grow, and be surprised by the endless compassion of the divine is what I long for within my soul; and that can never be found in certainty.
Certainty is when I stop walking with God in order to tell others that I once met God; so that I might impress someone with my experience. Uncertainty is continuing to walk with God, to fall in love with those I meet, and to discover who they are and be surprised by their blessings.

This is especially evident when local or national politics enters the realm of the church, and I get very nervous. It is such a dangerous and slippery slope that can quickly slide a congregation or an individual away from facing one’s own issues, and instead be so certain about someone else’s need. It is impossible to separate faith from our political sphere, the act of voting or involving oneself in efforts to make our civic life better is deeply rooted in our beliefs. And though it is dangerous, it is still necessary. This is why humility and uncertainty are so crucial to being actually faithful and open to God.

It seems that politics has also been sidetracked by the misuse of religion. What should be a platform for compromise and collaboration, has instead become a pulpit for intransigence. The expectations for politicians to make a hard line stand on issues of sexuality, when life begins, the needs of the poor, and environmental concerns in order to be supported by various religious groups is misguided. Rather than seeking endorsements, politicians perhaps could seek the questions from the religious communities that might help guide them in the process of discovering new routes and possibilities to solving our problems.

Rather than claiming the answer or the “right way” and expecting politicians to follow, we in the religious community should be insisting on raising the questions. Making a statement of faith and morality define our civic discussion is like making one’s scientific hypothesis define one’s observations. Our observations and discussions should help us see more clearly our morality and our faith. Questions of integrity can and should be raised by scientific and faith communities. As an example, rather than siding with oppressed minorities to change someone else, perhaps we should be asking the question why we are the one’s in the majority and they are not. When the prophetic role of questioner is supplanted by an insistence on being right, we avoid changing ourselves in efforts to change others. In expressing our knowledge and certainty, we lack the ability to learn anything more, and prove that we are not growing in anyway with our God.

He has shown thee, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God? Micah 6:8

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