In our world with the 15 second attention span, religious issues continue to generate headlines. Some recent news items included the fact that Mormon women have breached the portals of the Men Only sessions for those aspiring to priesthood. Although women were not invited, most of the telecasts did not prevent the women from entering forums still reserved to males over the age of twelve.
Another headline was given in the same week to the Synod on the Family being held by the Catholic Church, an unprecedented look at such divisive issues as divorce and remarriage, and the admission to the sacraments of such “outsiders”. Who knows what will be discussed and/or decided?
One of the more intriguing faith headlines belongs to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who rather casually stated recently that he has moments of doubt. His remarks went viral with dire prognostications of the ultimate demise of the Anglican Church and the end of faith in the modern world. All hoopla aside, the archbishop was being honest about his faith journey. I imagine his remarks must have found an echo in the hearts of many believers across the spectrum of faith.
To doubt, on occasion, is not to “lose faith” but rather to get a new handle on it. It seems to me that the honest believer will always have those moments since faith, after all, is neither provable nor tangible. It is that soul conviction that will always be in need of shoring up and of examination. If not, how can one say that it is still alive?
Modern vocabulary allows us to speak of losing our faith as if it were a misplaced set of keys. Faith isn’t lost. It gets shelved, ignored or buried beneath more immediate concerns. Sometimes we can’t find an answer to an issue we think faith should address and we lose heart. Sometimes we confuse a human aspect of our faith journey, a particular faith community or a clergy person, with the greater aspect of God and drop them both in a black hole. I have never ceased telling my classes that the Hebrew word for faith is a verb, an action word. We have to work at it. It does not come naturally or easily to many of us. It is also part of a journey. So many of us expect our childhood awe and love to last through the challenges of adulthood. Are you still wearing your sweater from kindergarten? I doubt it. Why should that child’s faith still be your only soul clothing for the adult world?
I think Archbishop Welby deserves a commendation, not criticism, for having the courage to speak truth. Almost every active believer has dark or unsteady moments such as he describes. Nothing is lost. Something cries out for prayer and study, and the sincere believer responds.
We all need to be reminded of this.