So why “Faith’s Edge” for the title of this blog. Well, I guess it is more of a feeling than anything else. The feeling I’ve had for the past year and a half. The feeling of being pushed to the edge of what you believe. The feeling of standing on the edge of a chasm waiting to swallow you up. The feeling of being pushed (intentionally or not) to the fringes of religious traditions: not reformed enough, not Presbyterian enough, not emergent enough, not black enough…
Right now there is an episode of The Simpsons on where biblical stories are being parodied. They should call this episode seminary. (Or maybe just San Francisco Theological Seminary)Doesn’t matter, right? Those stories are all myths anyway, true? I miss the feeling of certainty I had before I came to seminary. I suppose it was a false sense of certainty at best. From the edge I can see the faith I used to have. I know I can’t go back. I know it is being changed, but I can’t see where it is going. Is this where I’m supposed to be? Not understanding? Rebuilding my faith from scratch? Constantly feeling uncomfortable? Sleepless?
The people I respect the most are the ones who have the most questions, not the ones that have the most answers. Maybe that’s where I’m headed. I want to use this space to explore the questions and maybe to figure out how I’m going to live my life in light of the unanswerable. Like any Lenten journey, the edge leads to the cross…
This from my very first blog post. I decided to blog for Lent in 2006. Blogging was the cool thing back then. All the hip ministry types were clogging the intertubes with their theologizing. I wanted to carve out my piece of world wide web, and so I started here. It’s funny to think about the ways the world has changed since then, not only in my personal life (more on that later), but in the world in general and specifically in the world of technology. When I started this, social media wasn’t nearly as advanced. People were on MySpace, Facebook was for early adopters, and there was no Twitter. While certainly a form of social media, blogging was somewhat cannibalized by its sister platforms. Why waste your time with those pesky paragraphs when you can reduce your thoughts to 140 characters? Or better yet, a meme? Anyone who knows me, knows that I love social media. I certainly think that love has caused blogging as a discipline to suffer for me, but it serves some of the same purpose that these early posts served for me back in the day. I processed thoughts, I wrestled with deep struggles. I attempted to be humorous in the process. LIttle has changed.
It feels a bit odd to point out the ways in which I resonate with a younger version of myself. I no longer feel the cynicism about my seminary education. I’m actually quite grateful for the experience I had at SFTS. I no longer feel the angst I once did around wrestling with ancient texts. I longer mourn the certainty of a past faith. I’m learning to embrace ambiguity in a way that a younger version of myself might have mocked. I don’t need answers. It’s in the asking of questions that I experience the tension that is characteristic of an experience with the Divine. But what I do still experience is the feeling of being on a precipice. The feeling of standing on the edge of a tradition, not centered or grounded in a certain set of doctrines or list of dogmatic statements, but tiptoeing along the edge of many different spiritual expressions. Had you asked me 8 months ago, I would have told you that I was agnostic. Maybe now I would say Universalist. I don’t feel any need to jettison my Presbyterian identity. I have struggled much for it. I still primarily speak the language of Christianity. They are stories I know and many of them still move me in the deepest ways possible. But I am searching. I now find that I get great inspiration from language outside of my tradition of origin. I love to hear others speak of their experience of the Divine nature. I love to hear others wrestle with the great mystery because therein my own wrestling finds greater meaning. My journey still feels like something of a tightrope walk, teetering between the rigidity of certainty that once was comfortable and the chaos of nihilism that often has a magnetic pull. The tightrope no longer feels perilous, but inevitable. Either I will walk it or I will simply cease to be.
There’s a despair in this original post that seems so obvious to me now. I couldn’t see a way ahead and it depressed me. It’s a feeling I know well. It’s a darkness that has been common to my lived experience. It is a part of me. I was depressed in ’06. I had been since the fall of ’04. I felt lost. I felt like I had lost something. I see it so clearly now. I blamed external things ignoring that I was restless inside. I have a restless, wandering spirit. That is inborn for me. I will always carry some sliver of depression with me because I’ll always live in that gap between the world as I imagine it could be and the world as it is.
The difference now is a peace with the questions, a peace with the sadness, a peace with the wandering. I stand on the edge still. It’s where I live. It’s where I was meant to live. It’s on the fringes where I believe the Divine can be found and experienced. Happy or not, that is where I want to be. .