Friday, April 10, 2009

Judith Warner's Faith-of-No-Faith

As she often does, Judith Warner touches on the spirit-of-the-moment in her latest NYTimes blog. She's discussing her beliefs and how although she doesn't feel that she fits into any traditional faith category, she feels that her children are really missing something by not growing up with a language of faith:
I am Jewish. But for nine years, from age 5 to 13, I attended an Episcopal school, went to chapel, sang in the choir. To this day, in good moods, my mind fills with hymns, and on a certain kind of spring day, a day that’s full of promise and hope, I see sunshine streaming in through stained glass windows, graceful specks suspended in the light over highly polished wood pews.

I would never call myself a Christian. But if you begin the Lord’s Prayer, I will join in, with feeling.


I know there are a lot of people who view people like my friend and me as “confused.” And yet, I can tell you that she and I – and my somewhat striking number of other friends whose faiths are other than what they “ought” to be by virtue of their upbringing – don’t feel confused at all. Some of us just can’t find a home for ourselves in the categories of identity that make sense for other people. Some of us are defined by little bits and pieces of experience and belief that together form a mosaic that for us, at least, is coherent and whole. (source)

I hear this sort of thing often, especially from well-educated folks who pride themselves on being open-minded and familiar with other cultures. There are a lot of people who feel this way among Betsy's peers at the University. Notable, to me, is the nostalgia for the culture sustained by institutional religion as well as the regret for its decline. But there is also a sense of displacement, as though they are part of a spiritual diaspora. It's the sort of thing we would expect from a culture that is becoming rapidly post-Christendom. Still, I have tremendous hope and faith that the Holy Spirit knows what She is doing...



Anonymous said...

Hmmm... interesting read. i too believe there is something very necessary about having the paradigm to grow out of.

often, with such a background, there comes a day of reckoning when you either choose your own adventure (to create your own paradigm) or to grow within the pre-existing system.

Either way you are confronted... and you choose. This dilemma (fortunately or unfortunately) bypasses lots of folks.

Perhaps the diaspora is a people group longing for the rock of ages- the firm belief, shared explanations, collective assumptions... mutual connections... a desire so deeply ingrained in our meta-program.

'Progress' offers little respite. One either becomes certain, uncertain or learns to dance with both.

Tay Moss said...

I think also what "leaving the paradim" means has shifted. In times when the faith was a more comprehensive lifetsyle kind of thing, often that crisis would mean a shift to a new part of the dance floor or a different dance, but one was still dancing! I think particularly of those who pursued contemplative spirituality or when on mission trips of various sorts. But these days as religion has become more narrow, it takes the shape of leaving the institutional church altogether...