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2 Questions, 3 Answers

Last Friday’s post entitled Calling Simple Simple generated a couple of questions that I thought I’d answer here, along with another bit of info that might be helpful.

Esther commented  “Can I ask what started that train of thought?

The internet.

Ok, more specifically, most church media sites on the internet.   In trolling through (and even writing for) some of these sites, I’m noticing that they’re offering less and less content about God and more and more about how we feel about God.   It’s almost as if how we feel about God has become god itself.

Humanity is naturally narcissistic.   Christianity can’t afford to be, but it seems that’s where we’re spending our strength, in never-ending conversations about how we feel.   I was driving down the highway and just began taking those thoughts to their logical extremes – what is really simple and what is really complex.  Then I sat down at the keyboard and barfed those thoughts out.

Zoecarnate (a pseudonym, I’m hoping) commented “But what if God and faith are complex? Is that possible? By faith being complex, I don’t mean it being malleable like silly putty and picking up whatever from the daily newspaper – but I hope it is as mysterious and nuanced as our God (whom we’re called to be like) and real life.”

To a degree, I suppose it is possible that both God and faith can be complex, although in all honesty, we make God much simpler and faith much more complex than either really are, and we do it because it buys us wiggle room.

I’m actually a student of nuance – not formally,  no Masters in Nuance or anything – but in watching people color and shadow their stories, perspectives and mores, and in the nuancing of their faith, they rarely engage in it for any reason other than to justify questionable or sinful behavior.   I’m including myself in this vast generalization.

To fight for a simple faith is to bring all the fringe issues into alignment on the safe side of righteousness.  Faith becomes less about “can I _______ and be a Christian” and more about “how much can I give away, give up, or let go in the pursuit of knowing God.”

An unnecessarily complex faith is almost always about finding the lowest common denominator of holiness.

And the third bit of information – totally unsolicited and at no extra cost – is this:

I have shut off the masking on my domain name, meaning even though you’re typing in randybohlender.com, it will redirect you to the actual wordpress site, enabling you to click on a headline and get to the permalink that allows you to link to a specific post.

Before, no matter where you navigated, it stayed as randybohlender.com and any link you posted back to that would send you to the top of the site.

Did anyone understand that?  Anyone?


7 Responses

  1. I think I understand, therefore I do understand.

    In a dark room even a 25 watt bulb is brilliant. I …..am…..that……bulb…

    Simple is goooood..

  2. Great thoughts.

    And yes, I understand the part about masking and appreciate the change It was causing my too much work when I wanted to get a permalink to email someone a particular post…

  3. As to the third, Randy… regarding masking your domain name. The real question is not “do we understand”, it is “do we CARE”… said with true affection.

    My suggestion for masking your domain would be to call it theloneranger.com

  4. Sister, sister, you mock what you do not understand…. 🙂

  5. Thanks Randy.

  6. I think another problem with complicated faith is that it gets to be more about us than about God. If I have to have the “right” kind or amount of faith in order to get healed, provided for, or whatever, then I really have faith in my faith and not God. Somehow, I don’t think that’s a good thing… 🙂

  7. Hi Randy – ‘zoecarnate’ is me, Mike Morrell. (But also as in zoecarnate.com. You been there? It’s a scourge of the emergent underworld…except you’re linked there, tee-hee!)

    Thank you for taking the time to reply. I think I understand better where you’re coming from now. I guess I wasn’t approaching this matter of faith’s complexity with much sin-consciousness at all. I’m pretty sure when I’m missing the mark, and that’s simple to me. (Sometimes I might live in denial, sure) But the subtleties and intricacies of faith are about so much more than sin management (or even personal-sin-absolution) to me – they’re about God, for one, and our apprehension of God; faith is about people for another, and the cosmos, and evil (y’know, theodicy – okay, I guess that’s sin-related) and the scope of redemption and the limitation of human experience and the public/political dimensions of faith, our liturgies/worship practices, altered states of consciousness, histories, and so much more.

    Some people ‘feel’ too intellectual to me, too ‘mindy’ – I get that. But I feel like the good Lord has gifted me with both an insatiable curiosity but also a certain baseline shallowness. Whereas some of my more intellectual friends’ thinking might lead them to question the existence of God or what have you, for whatever reason I’ve never been able to go there. But I have the utmost empathy (and even respect) for those who do go there. And I don’t feel like they’re all going there because they’re trying to justify some repressed sin – perhaps that’s where we might differ.

    Again, thanks for the conversation!

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