Joe, my atheist co-writer offers this: “Therein lies the difference between myself and those that adhere to some form of faith. I chose a path which questions everything.” On one hand I appreciate Joe’s openness to new ways of seeing, thinking and being. He chose to walk away from a religious belief system and to replace it with a belief in questioning and exploring.
My question to Joe is whether he gives himself permission to land? Does the process of questioning everything lead to greater clarity or greater confusion? Is simply questioning enough?
Implicit in Joe’s argument is the idea that to adhere to a religious faith is to limit ones thinking. My experience is that to dive deeply into a religious tradition is to enter upon a journey that will take you to unexpected places, raise unanticipated questions and on occasion offer surprising answers.
Religion is from the Latin religio which means to attach or re-attach to that which provides meaning. Where do you find meaning?
As a follower of Jesus, I’ve chosen to attach and re-attach myself to his teachings and witness. For me Jesus is the embodiment of universal love that challenges me to love in an expansive way. In 1 John 4 the writer offers: ‘No one has ever seen God but when we love one another, God lives in us and God’s love is made complete in us.’
Jesus is the antithesis of hate and judgment. Those who hate and judge don’t know the real Jesus.
Anne Lamott puts it this way: “If God hates the same people you do, then rest assured you’ve created God in your own image”.
Jesus’ love empowers imperfect people like me to try let go of bitterness, fear, self-centeredness. Sometimes we succeed sometimes not. It’s a love that encompasses people who believe and don’t believe. My faith draws me into an ever-widening circle. Such expansive living allows me to catch a glimpse of that great mystery some call God/Spirit/Creator.
Rather than being static my spiritual path is continually evolving. The school of hard knocks has forced me to wrestle with questions that I’d otherwise not ask. The death of a best friend, estrangement from a family member, a diagnosis of cancer brought questions I’d otherwise not have: ‘What do I really believe? What do I truly values? Is God real or an illusion? Is there hope? Can a broken heart be mended?’
A few of these questions have provided a hard-won answer that I’d otherwise not have.
To Joe I say, I too am on a path that questions everything. My faith tells me that I don’t journey with the questions alone.