Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Problem of Evil: Part I

I think that I am in the midst of some kind of spiritual crisis. And I am surprised because, at some level, I thought that stuff was at least partially resolved for me.

The last time this happened, it was mainly about getting away from fundamentalism. It was at least partly an intellectual problem, even if it had its emotional side, too. It was mainly a question of "If I don't believe in THAT, what do I believe?"

This time, intellectually, I am mostly fine. But emotionally, spiritually, I'm not.

G K Chesterton once wrote: "Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair". I get that. I know exactly what he means. I have quite liberal theological views, some of which probably seem very academic to other people, but I have never believed in faith as an intellectual exercise. And to the extent that my religion is a love affair, it's a love affair that isn't going very well.

You know those times during a relationship when you know you have issues, you know you need to resolve them in some sensible and constructive manner, but somehow you just can't make that move? Right at the point where you should at least try to listen to the other person, you should at least try to be reasonable, you retreat into yourself and you get used to feeling alone. You find a perverse satisfaction in feeling ill-used. I feel like that with God: "If you aren't going to help me, God, then please just go away and leave me alone."

I have all these sad, angry thoughts swirling around. I'm sad. I'm angry. And to tell you the truth, I don't know where God is. I feel abandoned. And although I rail away at God, the truth is that I feel like there is something horribly wrong with me.

I am really hesitating to publish this post. It's almost too close to the bone for public consumption and I've been appreciating all the comments about what an admirable person I am and how well I cope. But what the hell. Gotta stick with the honesty rule, right, or what's the point?


Blogger oldbear said...

First off, cyber hug, and big sigh of empathy. I think I have gone and am going through some of the same/similar thoughts.

Maybe more talk later, but for now I just wanted to let you know you got my support, FWIW, and that i know from adolescence and young adulthood how stifling and tension-inducing praise and expecttion can be. Especially if itconflicts with or sense of self.

PAX and Love to you, hang in there Lady!

7:03 PM  
Blogger trueself said...

Oh, I can so empathize with you. So very, very much. I, too, have liberal theological beliefs, and many churches are not the right "home" for me. I have, however, found that there are indeed others with beliefs similar to mine. I have found that having a church home is very important to me. I have found that it is we who abandon God, not the other way around. He is out there watching over you and aching for you. I encourage you to turn to Him, realizing that fundamentalism is not required to have a deep meaningful relationship with God.

5:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You ARE a great person.

I completely understand where you're coming from on so so so many levels.


I tagged you for a meme ... hopefully that can get you thinking of something lighter at lest for a few minutes.

Hang in there


6:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the two of us can relate to each other on a great deal when it comes to this. Whether to follow your heart or your head is a tough question . I like that your williong to admit that your not sure if you are doing it right.

7:12 AM  
Blogger FTN said...

Sorry again, Emily, if one of my previous comments came off badly.

The quote from Chesterton is great, by the way. I've always loved that quote, and it's good that you feel that way. You might be a step ahead of many people who consider themselves "religious" already.

The relationship analogy is a good one as well. The symbolism of marriage is pretty commonly used to refer to Christ and his people, right? And we know that marriages and relationships often struggle!

Not sure if you are in the mood for Bible reading, but leaf through some Psalms when you have time. There were plenty of moments when David was "railing away at God" and feeling abandoned. Some of that was always good reading for me in times when I felt that way.

7:41 AM  
Blogger Desmond Jones said...

Reaching back a couple posts, let me just say, Em, that I hope you don't 'hold back' because you're worried about offending me. I have come to know you as a thoughtful and conscientious woman, Em, and I know that you don't just 'spout off'.

I will say that 'The Problem of Evil' is probably the strongest counter-argument there is to the existence of the Judeo-Christian God. Even folks like CS Lewis thought so, and wrote books to address the 'problem'. But, at least as I read this, your 'problem' is less 'intellectual' than it is 'existential'.

Don't assume that faith is just a 'settled stiuation' for me, just because I'm 'old' and still blogging from a perspective of Christian faith. I, too, have felt 'far from God' more than once or twice in my life, and the last few years have been a time of trial such as I've seldom had to endure in my life. We all have to process our faith through the lived circumstances of our lives, and those don't always (or even very often) leave us jumping up and down shouting Hallelujah.

Speaking purely on my own behalf, let me say that, by themselves, 'liberal' theological views aren't a problem for me; I've known and respected many people who were/are more 'liberal' than I am, but in whom I've been able to recognize the life of Christ. I might disagree, and I might think, somewhere in the back of my mind, that the 'liberal' is putting things at risk that shouldn't really be put at risk. But, if Christ, in His Holy Spirit, is alive in them, I can trust their 'theology' to God. . .

And, I will blog more about my kids; it's just not always easy to scrape my thoughts together into a coherent post. It's too bad, because in the 'previous' incarnation of my blog (May-July), I posted a few times in pretty raw terms about our struggles with our kids. But, when I shut the blog down, I deleted them; of course, now I wish I hadn't. But, if you look back in my archives, you can get some feel for our situation. And, I promise I'll have more to say in the not-too-distant future. . .

2:40 PM  
Anonymous Rosie said...

Oh, you said it so well -- "I don't know where God is." And I've wished for years to find him; I want to hear him finally say what is desired of me. Maybe Trueself has a point about finding the right religious 'home.' Have been thinking that is one more change I need to add to the number of changes I've made recently.

4:51 PM  

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