The Question Matters


Why I’m OK with Questioning God

 

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I’m a Gleek.  I’m sappy enough to enjoy the poignant moments.  I’ve been around high school students enough to appreciate the roller coaster ride with its high highs and low lows.  Musically, I dig harmony and Glee has great harmonies and music.

And this show doesn’t mess around.  It has tackled homosexuality, blended families, discrimination against women and minorities, and the sports vs. arts debate in schools, just to name a few.  This week’s episode was, for me, the high point of Glee’s audacity.  They tackled prayer in school.  And forgive my mixed sports metaphors, but they hit a home run.  They didn’t just have a friendly conversation in the principal’s office about it.  In a 60 minute show, I found one question coming up over and over again in the show: Who are we to weaponize our beliefs? By “we,” I mean humanity in general and certainly Americans.  When have we done this, you ask?  Tuesday night’s show provided many pointed observations.

Mercedes and several other friends prayed with Kurt‘s dad against Kurt’s wishes.  They weaponized their faith in prayer.  Yet Kurt was similarly guilty when he refused to accept those prayers as genuine concern for him and his father.  He weaponized his belief that there is no God.

Kurt summed up his disgust with God and those who believe in Him–that many Christians believe he (Kurt) made a choice and should be punished for that choice.  He sees that he was made that way and that others are punishing him for being who he is.  We–I– have weaponized our beliefs about homosexuality.

Kurt was a victim again in this show–when Sue Sylvester attempted to use his disgust towards his friends in Glee to prosecute Will Schuster for allowing his students to sing about their faith.  She weaponized her faith in the government to regulate religious practice.

And then there was Finn and Grilled Cheezus.  When Finn saw an image of Jesus in a grilled cheese sandwich he made, he took that sign to mean that he had a direct connection to God to ask whatever he wanted.  He weaponized his spiritual awakening for his own benefit, praying for the chance to take the next step sexually with Rachel and to win the quarterback’s job over the new kid in school.

In the end, Kurt was touched by his church experience with Mercedes, yet still skeptical at best.  Finn was confused, hurt, and doubting God more now than ever before.  Kurt’s dad showed the faintest sign of recovery from his heart attack.  How did it happen?  Was prayer involved?  Was it his deeply powerful connection with his son?

In the spirit of the best writing, the writers of this show declined to answer, leaving that for their viewers to decide.  The writers of the show openly questioned God and our beliefs about him, however devoted or skeptical we may be.  Yes, I’m OK with questioning God, especially if it comes at the expense of our easy answers, answers that we too often weaponize against those who see the world through different lenses.

Gen X Resurrection: From Religion to Faith

Posted in Change,Generation X by treyfinley1008 on March 30, 2010
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With apologies to Law and Order, the religious services system is formed by two separate but equal groups–the community of faith and the institutions that serve them.  The tough part, of course, is that these two separate but equal groups often need very different things.  I’ll get straight to the point–churches that must devote a great deal of their resources (money, time, administrative work) to the needs of the institution are a dying breed.  No, not because there are fewer of them, but because they are dying.  There are, in fact, a great many churches that have already died and many more are on their deathbed.  I take no joy in seeing churches in spiritual hospice and funeral homes.

Generation X has a nose for hypocrisy, a heightened sense of smell for that which doesn’t ring true.  At the risk of over-simplifying, a church that must pay so much attention to its institutional responsibilities that its service to all people suffers, is a church that many members of Generation X will not attend.  Or at least, they don’t anymore.  The institution and the faith of Gen Xers have very different needs.

The institution needs clarity.  Faith requires uncertainty. I have had no greater transformation in my own faith walk than this: I can choose to be at peace even when I’m in a place where I am not certain of what God is or is not doing.  For some, that would be horrifying.  For me, it is freeing and transformative.  It is a healthy tension between a faith that God is there and the very real possibility that I may not see, hear, or feel him in that place.  Generation X is comfortable with doubt, questions, and curiosity.  These are crucial components of faith.

The institutions’ needs must be served.  Faith requires serving. Debt “service” is an ironic phrase, is it not?  Perhaps it’s a little too true–see the Gospel of Matthew chapter 6, verse 24.  For sure, a church has fiscal and physical responsibilities.  Those responsibilities create opportunities for people to give of their gifts and time.  I cannot help but think that these moments spent in fiscal discernment are moments that could be spent in the happy dilemma of who to serve.

I could go on.  My call to those others of you born between 1961 and 1981 is this: be part of a community of faith.  Do not give in to the temptation to live your faith alone.  Live your faith alongside others who are, in Tolkiens’ words, wanderers yet not lost.  Please, don’t rob others of the gift you have to give them–the firm conviction that faith lived in pursuit of certainty and in service to institutions is a destitute faith.  When Generation X returns to church (and history tells us that many of us will), our authenticity, intense practicality, and earnest skepticism will add a bright palette of faithful color to the dull grays of institutional religion.