Saturday, November 15, 2008

Agnostic Via Media

Anglicans like to call their faith a via media, or middle way, between Rome and Wittenberg. Much the same is the place of the agnostic, I have found.

I am not talking of those who are religionless by default but fearful of the cosmic spanking they might get in the afterlife. Those who call themselves "agnostic" to avoid the stares and frowns prompted by "atheist."

No, I am talking as someone who once believed with conviction. Not just in childhood, either. Not just as a matter of good manners or custom. Not as a cultural expression (well, perhaps a little).

I had faith and now all I have is doubt I cannot overcome. I offer this mindful of Romano Guardini's definition of faith as the capacity to overcome doubt.

The terrible thing is that I am reasonably well educated about religion. I am conversant with the salient issues in theology, biblical research and ecclesiology and the gallons of ink spilled attempting to resolve them.

Indeed, I enjoy a good discussion on these themes. I can articulate with very reasonable fidelity the prevailing consensus concerning the basic teachings of Christianity, the Catholic Church and some branches of Protestantism -- even though I do not believe in any of it.

To my mind, the question isn't even whether God exists, but whether Jesus of Nazareth ever really walked the face of the earth, which I highly doubt.

There ought to be a church in which people who do not believe can go and discuss these things. I'm not interested in socials, bake sales, services or the like. Just a good discussion in which I can speak with like minded people and broaden my understanding with the comforting knowledge that none of these questions can ever be definitively answered.

Give me the church of St. John Dominic Crossan, please.
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