05 December 2011

0 this was the beginning

we're deep into january and the midwestern winter. it’s past midnight and an 84-year-old french theologian is giving k.clen and i a tour as we drive around a college campus. the buildings are lit up like candles.

the french theologian says something so incredibly important that i immediately forget it. all i remember is that upon hearing him say it, i realized everything i knew was wrong.

"god-breathed." this is the teaching i remember most from the churching of my childhood. it’s from 2 timothy 3:16. in the new international version, it reads: all scripture is god-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.

in the scary fundamentalist church in which i grew up, this verse was taken to mean that scripture- and, more importantly, doctrine- was god. it was used to justify all manner of cruelty and wrong things and coupled with it was the unspoken sense that if you did not accept that doctrine was god and the bible was absolute literal truth- if you had any questions or even the slightest doubts- then you were going to hell.

i have come to hate this phrase, “god-breathed.” because it's been used as an excuse for shallow belief. it puts everything in the murky territory of a personal faith that one must not examine too closely for fear it will far apart.

it’s hard enough to ask questions in this context, amid this unforgiving, unrelenting literalism. it's damn near impossible to go looking for answers.

to me, that's unacceptable. i am a tiny little woman. any god who's too weak to withstand my doubt and curses and anger and fear is simply unworthy of my belief. i believe doubt and faith not only can coexist, but they must.

i do not like christ. i am the world's worst christian. i doubt every day. and i believe in god with all my heart.

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