In continuing the discussion from last night about belief, and in particular folks who don't believe, I'm sometimes baffled by the way Christians (myself included) have tended to address disbelief: When someone disbelieves, what do we do? We try to convince!
It's sort of like finding someone who doesn't speak English in the United States: to convince them of the importance of learning the dominant language here, we explain - in English - how fluency will benefit them. "Alkadfa;dska dflakdfka adkfadlk;lka asdlksdfljkad." Got it?
...or talking to me about sports.
When we talk to friends and neighbors about spirituality, we need to start exactly there: spirituality. We have to vacate the particulars of Christendom, and participate in a much broader mystical world. In that mystical world, we interact - human to human - in transcendent questions about the nature of reality, the nature of creation, of humankind, of God (or GODS), sin, goodness, eternity and the soul. To do this honestly, we have to give up CONTROL. We have to learn how to be "seekers" all over again (or, perhaps, for the first time).
If a person engages those questions and concludes, "nope. The only reality I believe in is the natural world I can observe," then the conversation is effectively over and we should love and enjoy friendship with our atheist neighbor. But if that person recognizes and affirms a mystical, supernatural system that we are all a part of, then things get even more dicey, because our friends may not reach our conclusions: Buddhism or Wicca may seem a whole lot nicer. Did our spiritual encouragement lead them elsewhere? Away from Jesus? That idea scares the hell out of anyone who is certain of their own answers, and it keeps a lot of well-intentioned Christians from letting conversations go past canned Evangelism bullet points. That can keep us from having deep, meaningful relationships with spiritually open people, because our agendas prevent us from taking the risk of allowing them freedom to choose.
If our definition of "belief" or "faith" involves the idea of something that can be argued or convinced, then I'm afraid most contemporary, postmodern people on the fringes of traditional organized religion won't have much patience with us.
If we are able to see faith as something that is experienced empathically and existentially, in addition to intellectually, then we will value the process of joining others in their personal journey. We're all seekers.
I'd like to join you in seeking.
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