this too
Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Intrigued to see that, in response to Augustine’s latest Interview with God, a few readers have contextualised their comments by sharing matter-of-factly whether or not they believe in him.

Ever since I became disaffected from church at 8 or 9 years old, I’d have said no, I don’t believe. I’m a proud and militant atheist. But these days… well, I don’t think I’d say an unequivocal no, and it’s because I look to the source of that very pride and militancy – the inexplicable strength of spirit and will.

Objectively, I’d have to say my life has been mostly failure, loneliness and stagnation. Then there’s, you know, war and suffering and oppression and destruction of the environment. Not much reason to go on. And yet, I almost never wonder whether I really want to.

I find no rational explanation for this strong, strong spirit that makes me get up every day and laugh and connect and carry on. I could say, it’s fear, inertia, habit, social pressure… but that hardly seems enough. So I suppose I believe in something.

I might think of some words later, but for now...
Jean, this is a very moving post. I'm touched that it was provoked by the comments after my latest God interview. How to explain belief or disbelief or non-belief? Mine isn't rationally worked out, nor is it a decision or a choice. It simply was always there.
I'm too cagey now to be led into trying to answer that question, unqualified. I respond now, "tell me what the word 'God' means to you and I'll tell you whether I believe in it."

I think about 30% of the time I can answer "yes."

It's obvious to me that there is something a lot bigger and more intelligent and more important than the stuff I usually call "me" in my consciousness. Whether it's visiting, or lives there, I couldn't say, but anyway I'm clear that my first reponsibility is to be as welcoming to it as I can.
I keep coming back here, Jean, wondering what to say. You manage to say so much in so few words...

I keep getting stuck these days in a paralysis of thought where mental processes just seem to seize up. Oddly enough though, that strength of human spirit - whatever spirit *is* - remains as an island of certainty, unclouded by the fog that blankets everything else.

When I was off work unwell a couple of weeks ago, I watched the entire series of "Band of Brothers" on DVD. I find no glory in war; nevertheless the series was intensely moving. At the time I couldn't put my finger on exactly why I found it so, but I think now it was exactly the portrayal of that strength of spirit that touched me.
oops, meant to add...

So just what is that spirit and where does it come from? As dale says (if I understand aright), there's more to Life than just a collection of isolated individuals.

Oh, and fwiw, I do, I think, have a belief in God. Even when I think I don't.
Jean, I think from reading your earlier posts that you do believe -even if you think you don't. Your evaluation of your life may not match what someone else might say about it; and you are certainly not personally responsible for "war and suffering and oppression and destruction of the environment". You write wonderfully well and you are making a difference here in the blog world - and so - you have purpose and your strong, strong spirit will continue and maybe one day - you will discover what it is you really do believe.
What Dale said is pretty close to it for me. And I think it's even more important to talk about and aknowledge doubt than it is to talk about faith.
Thank you for the kind and interesting comments. I was a bit retrospectively embarrassed about this brief bout of soul-baring.

And, Andy, what you said about watching 'Band of Brothers' - yes, I totally identify with that; it explains why I'm moved by a lot of stuff that I also have problems with...
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