Wednesday, September 14, 2011

At the Cross Roads of Orthodoxy and Existentialism

“We must distinguish between what we should believe (orthodoxy) and what we actually believe (existential faith).” – Craig C. Broyles

I found these words in my scholarly reading a couple of years ago and thought they were pretty cool. A few days ago, I saw them in a flashback Facebook status. Since then, I’ve been marinating on the essential quality of this statement.

As a person who generally understands the divine through orthodoxy, theology, and intellectualism, I rarely relate to experiential and existential interpretations of the divine. Ironically, life has its way of screwing with orthodoxy through our experiences. Lately, I’ve asked a lot of “why” questions and said a lot of “I don’t knows.” Orthodoxy doesn’t make me feel better; nothing does. Yet, I’m not one to endorse therapeutic-deism – I don’t think God’s here to make me feel better about life. Therefore, when that viewpoint gets thrown into upheaval by experiences, what is one to do? When the going gets tough, most of us want to get the hell out of dodge. 

Sometimes, we get caught behind “the fan” and existential faith wins. At present moment, what I’m thinking, feeling, experiencing, and believing contradicts my orthodoxy. I wanna feel better about the God who walked away. Translation, I’m feeling like a therapeutic-deist. However, orthodoxy tells me to look to God, who’s found at the cross, and leave my shit there. Orthodoxy also tells me that God has given us the gift of faith. In spite of the fact that my existential faith is stewing in frustration – over the seemingly inactive divine God – it is orthodoxy that allows me to look to the cross and relay on God, the giver of faith, when I feel hopeless.    

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What Doesn't Kill You

I’d rather feel – feel anything but this
I want to cry…
Don’t want more dying:
I want to laugh,
I want to love,
I want your touch.
I’d rather feel – feel anything but this
Emotionally exhausted,
Mentally tapped out,
I want to laugh…
Instead, I have rage:
Haunted by the past,
Haunted by the present,
Haunted by the future.
I’d rather feel –feel anything but this
Been beaten numb.
What doesn’t kill you, doesn’t make you stronger
What doesn’t kill you, doesn’t kill you.
I’d rather feel – feel anything but this.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Saved: A Tale of Human History and Divine Mystery

Trial and hardship are one of the oldest tales in human history. Early in the story of Job, the loyal servant of the Lord loses everything and worships God in response. In effort to address my own trials, I look at Job and ask, how did he not blame God? It seems like a natural human response to challenge our devotion and perception of the divine when things get tough. What makes Job different from so many of us? Perhaps, he knew that some things in life are a mystery.

In the face of trial, salvation takes on a different meaning. If we’re not “saved” from trials and hardships, what are we saved for? Maybe, it’s so we lean on God when we don’t understand. Maybe, it’s so we remember that we are not gods. Maybe, it’s so we can testify that God brought us out of our situations. Maybe, it’s so we’ll receive the gift of grace by the faith God has given us. Or, maybe it’s all a part of life and we don’t have a decent answer.

Normally, this is the point where I’d try to bring things together in a well thought out theological package, but that part of me feels lost amidst the mysteries of life and mysteries of God. In college, I said, “The more I learn, the less I know.” Today, the more things I survive and endure, the less I understand. Now, I wonder, how do we live with mysteries?

It’s not always easy or natural to lean on God. Sometimes, it feels like we’d have a better go of things if we were gods; but deep down, that’s just a fantasy to make us feel better about the state of life. In turn, testifying of God’s victory only serves as a means of comfort. Faith and grace don’t always leave us with comfort in hard times; yet, they might keep us going when we don’t have anything left inside. Whatever it is, God has to know how it works because it’s a mystery that we’re all facing together. I don’t have answers and I don’t understand; all I have are pleas for mercy, comfort, and rest. Thus, God is still God and I am not like Job because I am lost in the mystery – hoping God will “save” me from something.