"It's bigger than we thought
It's taller than it ought to be
This pile of rubble and ruins"
-- Nichole Nordeman
It seems about once a week these days that a new book whose subject is American Evangelicalism comes across my path. As is usually the case when there is a resurgence in interest of a particular subject, I read one and the rest just seems to say the same thing but in a different way and chronicling another angle. As I mentioned a few weeks ago I read Lauren Sandler's Righteous: Dispatches from the Evangelical Youth Movement. Since then this and this and this have all come across my path and I can't help but think how there has never been something that is such a large part of my life been of interest to the public at large as right now.
Until several years ago I heard the word evangelical and thought, more or less, of someone who is a Christian and who thought everyone else should be as well. That has remained steady but now it seems to mean so much more and I have come to a fork in the road where I have to ask myself, "Am I an evangelical?" If I am, then how do I justify the direction my life and beliefs have headed in over the past few years. If I'm not, then how do I deal with the ramifications of being an outsider in a club that I used to be the ultimate insider.
I just don't know.
Last Wednesday night at church I was sitting and thinking that the only reason I was there was because I was there the previous week, and the only thing that brought me there the previous week was my presence the week before that, and on and on and on. There was no inner conversation going on within me concerning ultimate issues, nor did I feel as if I was there as an act of faith. When I was younger I would have looked down on someone for this. Just going to church because it was the thing to do was an action that this Youth Group Spiritual Overchiever looked down on with scorn and shame. You might as well stay home.
The voice of the Youth Group Spiritual Overchiever has reentered conversations with himself, sans the piety. Now the voice says you are just here because it's the thing to do. You might as well stay at home because there is beer and your dog there.
But these ramblings aren't really even about church. They are about belief. What do I really believe and do I believe it enough to turn my belief into faith and my faith into action?
It has become acceptable these days to speak about how ok it is to doubt. Our sermon this morning was even about this. I think this is ok because so many in the Evangelical Movement (and really in many faith traditions) are discouraged, implicitly or otherwise, from doubting. John Mark spoke of how it's ok to doubt and question because it deepens your faith. I like this.
But to doubt you have to care and I've found on many days I wake up without even the ability or wherewithal to care. I speak a good doubt-faith-game, but when it comes down to it, I've lost all interest.
But I still believe, even if it's for wrong, and irrational (or a-rational) reasons. Lauren Sandler, in Righteous, spoke of those like me as people who say "This is the fairy tale I've chosen, and I'm sticking with it."
I know apologetics and if you want could prove the resurrection within a certain epistemological framework and can even sound an awful lot like a liberal who suggests that every faith is reaching out to the one true God. But at the end of many days, as at the end of this one, I'm just following the fairy tales of my forefathers and mothers.
The Youth Group Spiritual Overachiever whispers in my ear, "If you don't get your act together, hell awaits."
The emergent conversationalist whispers in my ear, "It's ok if you doubt."
I answer back, can I just go to bed and worry about this another day?