question prohibition

Months ago, I was finishing up a Sunday morning’s paperwork as two members came by to visit with me. The topic of global warming came up. One member made a heavily derogatory comment towards anyone who believed in a warming globe, commenting that anyone who believed that also believed that the world was millions of years old and that macro-evolution was verifiably true. They framed the comment in such a way that disagreeing made the person un-Christian. As a young person who cares deeply for the beautiful earth, I was mortified. But as a paid member of our staff and a representative of the church-at-large, I remained silent, wondering when a scientific conversation became a pillar of our faith.

If that were the only example of such an experience, I would label it anecdotal. However, I think representational would be a more fitting description.
If I were to ask questions about science and faith in an open forum, I am afraid of being labeled, of being “blacklisted,” of being ridiculed. As a servant of the church, I shouldn’t be afraid of asking honest questions. I have honest questions about science and faith, questions that my instructors in university sidestepped, or only hinted towards. I wonder if they sidestepped in their own inhibition.

Fear breeds dissatisfaction and anger. As a culture, I worry that one day many will self-exclude because of fear, anger, dissatisfaction. I worry that the inability to properly and safely ask the questions about faith, scripture, life will keep us from engaging spiritually with one another.

Certainly this fear is nothing new. It has been expressed by many over the ages. But it is different when the fear becomes your own.

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Joel Mayward said...

I was having a conversation with a college guy in my office the other day, talking about creation and our responsibility as human beings to take care of the earth God deemed as "very good." He shared that he's been dismissed from similar conversations about faith, science, and social justice issues with the label of "weird." As in, "oh, your opinion is just weird." He's saddened, because he's sure that the church should be the safest place for him to ask these questions, yet being brushed-off for being "weird" doesn't seem safe to him.

The others fear him for asking hard questions that challenge their paradigm; he is now afraid of being socially ousted for his questions. It's a fear-driven spiral, and only humble authenticity can end it.

alaina said...

I wish "weird" was as hot as it got, but I've personally been witness to much more vitriolic responses to earnest questions in places where they should have been safe. (Not personally directed at me. Though I once had someone tell me they were worried about my spiritual health after I shared my frustrations over this question prohibition issue.)
You can tell him he isn't alone.
In fact, a good deal of my sadness isn't for my own personal experience--it is for the experience of others.
I think your words on humble authenticity nail it. Today is a good day to be thinking about humble authenticity. Fear is driven about by perfect love. Perfect love is humble.
I'm so glad it is Holy Week.

TomK said...

Hello, uncle Tom again. Global warming is a fact of life for the earth. However, there is something that tends to be ignored. Namely the precession of the axis of rotation of the earth. In short what this means is the earth goes through a cycle ever 25,900 years where the glaciers advance and receed. In other words the oceans will probable rise by the end of the century and it is only accelerated by green house gases. Total elimination of green houses will not stop it, but will effect the max avg temp that will be seen when the glaciers are mostly gone. It really comes to another disaster that the politicians will make the most of to forward there agenda. You have to ask "Who is really bennefiting?" If you want it to be the little guy then you should consider how to teach the little guy to conserve the natural resources so items little the water table are increasing instead of decreasing.