Wednesday, December 7, 2011

On Tim Tebow and Ranting For No Reason: or how I learned to stop worrying and just accept that the broncos won part 1

Read this article. It was very interesting and I think it hits the nail on the head in some regards. People take issue with Tim Tebow or love Tim Tebow because of the faith issue. He, as many already know, is very outspoken about his Christian faith and this polarizes NFL fans. He gives God glory for everything he does, and does it in a seemingly genuine way.

What the article gets right is that it is this aspect of this man and not his skills (questionable or not) bring to a football team. What it fails to understand is that not all faith is blind. There are people who have to take their faith at that level and continue to believe in that way, but there is also plenty of evidence of others who do the contrary. They find intellectual reasons for the faith and, with the Grace of God, can make the jump into a faithful believer. That, surely, isn't blind. That is jumping in knowingly.

I have also been a man/boy of faith all of my life. I first believed in Christ when I was seven and deliberately went up the aisle of a Baptist church in California on Christmas day to make my commitment known. This sounds like a common story, I know. A lot of children, Catholic or Protestant, jump into the Faith without a proper understanding of what they are getting into. Some do this because children are naturally able to accept the fantastic than their parents might be. Children are trusting, which can be dangerous for them, but is still--ultimately--something that can be considered a good. What sort of life would one live if they felt they could never trust anyone? How lonely would that be?

Another reason a lot of young converts come forth is pressure from either their parents or their peers. If a child sees his friend joining up, why wouldn't he want to be a part of it (whatever IT is) too? If your parents tell you to do something you feel that you should do it. You trust them or they seem less likely to harm you if you do (something that happens in the worse homes there are). So, some are rather forced into assent, though they may not believe.

Catholics and some other churches, like the Lutheran church, give their children a long religious education and hope that by the end the child will choose to be a part of the Church or church. (forgive my impertinence, I feel that distinction must be made considering my own beliefs. I apologize for any offense.)

A child may feel pressured here too, or have received an education that didn't really teach them much. This seems to be an epidemic in American Catholic parishes. I have taught catechism for 7th graders and was worried that they were given things too simply (granted, you should simplify it for the youngest, but when they are better able to reason you need to cultivate that more. That is another blog, however). In any case, there are situations arising that cause young Catholics to lose their faith once some new ideas begin to take root. Why does this happen? Whatever the reasons, the Faith isn't taking hold as it could. Grace is needed.

Now, my situation was not like any of these examples. When I was seven, I was asking questions, and lots of them. I approached my mother and father (who WAS a minister) and asked many questions, seeking understanding. This went on for a few months and I was even extolled by my ex-Minister father to not make a choice for Christ. He claimed I did not know enough, I was too young. Curious isn't it?

Nevertheless, I made my decision and I made it after questioning, reading, and coming to an understanding. I intellectually agreed with it and, being a child, I could not see why miracles would be so out of the question. It might seem strange to have an intellectual child at times, but that's what I was; I was also a jock, video game enthusiast, and playful child. I read as much science as I read fiction and literature. I enjoyed science and enjoyed learning about the life cycle of a star and various creatures in the world. As I grew old, still being Protestant, I began to have issues with science. I grew up with literalist, but I digress.

The point is, I thought about this decision good and long and then I made it. Now, another thing about this decision, is that it 'felt' right. I felt emotionally connected to the church I joined, and not because of the rather raucous worship of my original church (predominantly black Baptist churches etc). Yes, service could be rather fun, but that is not why I wish to joined. I had come to understand something and was given the Grace to follow through on what I had been given. Many people beat around the bush for ages before giving in. It took a blinding light to convert Saul into Paul. That, however, hasn't been my experience. What ever the reason, church felt right and I wished to be a part of it. The fact that I happened to agree intellectually with it was a bonus (a necessary one).

So, my jump into the Faith was certainly not a blind one. It was calculated and came over time. I was, of course, raised in church and I was use to it. But, that familiarity had nothing to do with my decision. There simply was something about Jesus, something about this mysterious God.

My conversion to Catholicism was similar. In college, I discovered that there seemed to be missing books of the Bible (apocrypha), that Protestants had altered the Bible, and that there was a more intellectual gratifying view of the Faith. My Faith was not just random beliefs strewn together. It was meant to be reasonable as well, even if there are fantastic elements. That was something I had always felt, but had only really encountered reactionary Protestant arguments against science etc. It wasn't very reasonable, I believe our sciences have ability to understand and document a great many things. Surely we would have no cured diseases or know about our universe if science couldn't be taken seriously.

This is where people often cite Blind Faith as being a problem. I would tend to agree with them. This is the kind of Faith that causes people to just shout over one another...on both sides. Surely, we must realize that we have to have a certain kind of faith in science. Sure, science things are verifiable, but why should they be? What if this is all some sort of illusion? What if we simply are the dream of the Brahmin and are not even really real? These are questions science cannot answer. Science can only deal in material. Sure, we have found that the material world is comprised of many small things, but will we find out why it is that these miniscule things make everything? I mean really, all we actually know is that things are made of subatomic and other particles that we cannot see with our weak, weak eyes. Yes, gravity and other forces are at work, but why would that ever translate into an animal? Why would it ever translate into thought? How can we really trust anything? Science cannot give us that assurance, and that was not a disparaging comment. After all, science and religion are not mutually exclusive. In fact, you will find it was those who did believe in something mystical (God or not) are the ones who strived to understand more. It was a monk who brought up heliocentric theory, Galileo simply reported it again and then said some very snide things to the Pope. (tsk tsk) The Church supported many scientific endeavors. Catholic Spain sent Columbus off to explore because the educated folk knew the world wasn't flat and were crazy enough to listen to that loon.
Anyway, all I am really trying to say is that Faith isn't necessarily blind, though there are examples of it on all sides and that Faith doesn't necessarily conflict with science. Chao, for now.

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