Faith After Doubt
“Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving.”
- Frederick Buechner
I recently started “Faith After Doubt: Why Your Beliefs Stopped Working and What To Do About It,” by Brian McLaren. I don’t agree with everything I’ve read so far, but I must say that it’s served as a great reference for some of the conversations we need to have at home in this season. McLaren’s framework puts language to my experiences, many of which were difficult to communicate and reconcile prior to reading this book. I also think it resonates because of the recent loss in the family. McLaren starts his book with the following passage.
“There are recovery programs for people grieving the loss of a parent, sibling or spouse. You can buy books on how to cope with the death of a beloved pet or work through the anguish of a miscarriage. We speak openly with one another about the bereavement that can accompany a layoff, a move, a diagnosis, or a dream deferred. But no one really teaches you how to grieve the loss of your faith. You’re on your own for that.”
I grew up in the church, accepted Jesus into my life at 12, and when I turned 14 I learned about evolution in Biology Class and Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam in History Class. I realized that there are billions of people out there, many of them much smarter and more experienced than I was, who believed things I didn’t believe. “Who am I to tell them that I’m right and you’re wrong?” I thought to myself. As I questioned and eventually abandoned my faith, I felt a deep melancholy.
I’m reminded of that sense of bereavement, something similar to what I feel now as I grieve my father’s death. As hard as this season is for me now, I feel I’ll get through because so many people are supporting me. I know I’m not alone. Whatever you think about McLaren’s theology, I guess his book serves that same purpose. People have doubts about their faith, but at least while reading this, they can know that they’re not alone. Thank God for that.