A couple of days ago, I was pondering how long it had been since my last post. I realized that my lack of inspiration is probably mostly due to how little I have read my Bible lately. It seems that my richest writings and ideas come when I am taking the time to carefully read and think about what God has to say; to dissect what is actually in the Bible and why it is there versus what my culture or what the church as an organization has added to or inferred from it. I have never been one for New Year’s resolutions, but it might be reasonable to resolve to read my Bible more often in the coming year.
I tend to keep a very small circle of friends, and so on New Year’s Eve I found myself in the company of a select group of people: my Christian husband, an agnostic schoolteacher, an atheist physicist/engineer, and a pair of psychologists who believe strongly in a spiritual realm, but are not committed to any sort of religion (perhaps one might consider them to be agnostic); and for a little while, the psychologists’ 20-year-old-philosopher son joined us. Being an introvert, I tend to prefer listening to talking, and I also tend to be quite closed with people. Consequently, when it comes to my faith, I am not a charismatic evangelist but rather an “infiltrator”* who will share my faith only with those who express a genuine interest. As our conversation broke the social rule of not discussing religion or politics, I listened thoughtfully to what everyone at the table had to say until the point-blank question was directed at me, “Do you ascribe to any religion?” In the safety of these open-minded thinkers, none of whom had any interest in criticizing or converting anyone, I began with a terse answer and a subtle invitation to probe further. At one point, the atheist asked me for the “Reader’s Digest version” of what I believed Christianity was all about, and everyone at the table gave me their full attention as I described our depraved nature, our separation from God, and our opportunity for redemption. The dialogue that followed included some healthy debate on whether or not the scientific method can have anything to do with spirituality, difference of opinion about logical inferences that can be made from what we observe (for instance, “Your belief in X would bring me to the opposite conclusion, that there must not be any God”), and other philosophical theories. Though we of course did not come to any sort of consensus on the spiritual, I was awed with the opportunity to share my beliefs, and I am grateful for the continued feeling of God’s presence giving me quiet confidence. I love having my faith (respectfully) questioned or challenged. It makes me a better thinker, which in turn makes me a stronger Christian.
I will leave today’s ramblings with one last thought. As I settled down at my computer to write and reflect on last night’s events, I was reminded of a quote from Dr. Francis Collins, the former director of the National Human Genome Research Institute: "[R]eason alone cannot prove the existence of God. Faith is reason plus revelation, and the revelation part requires one to think with the spirit as well as with the mind. You have to hear the music, not just read the notes on the page. Ultimately, a leap of faith is required."
*When I call myself an “infiltrator,” I do not mean to imply that I have any nefarious intentions. People who are attracted to my talents and interests or to my calm, quiet demeanor often become curious about what makes me tick, and so they are the ones who initiate conversations about my beliefs. If I were to evangelize, I might have otherwise turned off these people. Instead, it comes naturally for me to “hook” certain people so that they want to engage me.
Happy New Year!