Thursday, April 12, 2012

A case for doubt

Some thoughts about doubt. This Sunday we read the story of Thomas. Readings are here.

The BBC is featuring a series on doubt. "Doubt is so much more useful than certainty" Madeleine Bunting relates her thoughts on The Case for Doubt:
"Doubt is a glorious reminder of our limitations as human beings, of how suspicious we should be of certainty".

Journalist and writer Madeleine Bunting makes the case for doubt in religion - why religious doubt is a 'glorious reminder' of our limitations as human beings, why we should always be suspicious of the certainty that breeds intolerance, and how the doubt she so feared as a child has now become a useful ally.

Madeleine Bunting is the third of five contributors making The Case for Doubt - that it is much more meaningful than certainty and much more valuable than fixed opinions and beliefs.

Other thoughts from Bunting:
Doubt was seen as the flu or a cold - but with Vatican II doubt became more respectable.

Once seen as a great error - now church leaders admit their doubts. Now it is a normal part of a spiritual path.

She speaks of a nun who freely admitted her doubts but was untroubled by her unbelief and it did not affect her choice to commit her life to faith.

Doubt and skepticism are the order of the day with their poisonous kin cynicism.

In the "age of uncertainty" who we are? what we are for? how to endure suffering? how to makes sense of our few decades of life?

Dictionary: Doubt - a feeling of uncertainty, an undecided state of mind.

Does the uncertainty of our thoughts have to affect how we choose to live our lifes.

Belief is not an intellectual proposition but (according to Karen Armstrong) from an old German word "to commit to" Not an assertion of fact but an expression of commitment to follow Christ.

Commitment and practice - faith is an accumulation of habit acquired by actions

Attentiveness and patience and skill - can be learned - it is not about mind tricks.

Faith is about dedicated practice -- doubt is about hesitation.

But doubt can serve the purpose of balance - when to doubt and when to believe, when to be skeptical and when to act is the question.

It is a useful ally - to live with humility.

I wonder if Thomas is called the Twin because he has both faith (as shown in his earlier statements in the Gospel of John that they must follow Jesus as he goes to Jerusalem even though they fear what will happen there) and doubt. The life of a follower of Christ needs this balance lest we become mindless and faithless.

A prayer by John Coburn:
Lord Jesus:
We do not understand everything about you, or about ourselves.
But we do know that the more we trust you,
the more we know about you
and therefore about ourselves.
So we thank you for the little we do
understand about you and ask you to help us to trust
that, that we may grow in knowledge and love of you
and of ourselves.
Let us then not worry overmuch about who agrees with us,
who disagrees, who is for us, who is against us,
who understands us, who doesn't care.
As we trust you to do with us as you will,
then we shall become more wholly ourselves and
members of you. Amen


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