St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church
Diocese of New Westminster
Anglican Church of Canada
Wednesday 7:00 pm
Thursday 2:00 pm
April 8th Easter 2, 2018 John Marsh
Acts 4:32-35; Psalm 133; 1John 1:1-2:2; John 20:19-31
It is sometimes said that doubt is deeply corrosive of faith yet, one needs to ask, what faith are we talking about?
If faith is but ideological posturing, religious or otherwise, doubt is corrosive but thankfully so…
Doubt need not be opposed to faith, in fact doubt may be essential to faith in so far as doubt asks questions, raises critiques birthed of human experience…
Doubt raises suspicions of ideological agendas, subverts the play of partisan politics and policies, senses possibilities of life within the experience of human hope and horror…
Doubt works within the calculus of deep desires for life - life lived fully as well as life damaged by defining impositions and controlling practices - clearing the way for discerning, listening, perhaps responding to possibilities, sensing something, something elusive, unknowable yet perhaps life stirring, unfolding…
Doubt suggests a faith within the space between theism and a/theism, between affirmation and denial, perhaps faith in god after god, faith in flesh, taking seriously enfleshed dreams…¹
Admittedly, this is, depending on adjectival preference, a smaller faith, a weaker faith, a less certain faith but a faith deeply respectful of that which stirs within the name of god, that which stirs within the unknowability of god, honouring a humility which allows room for, requires the tone and tenure of, human experience in all of it variability.
This is a faith willing to struggle with the angels of life and death, a second faith traversing the valley of the shadow of death in hope of a second natality, a new birth with new eyes and new ears…²
This is a faith acknowledging but trying to avoid a faith that kills…
This is a faith seeking to embrace life in all its diversity…
This is faith in the god of the stranger, the god of hospitality not the god of fear…
This is faith recognizing that there are no guarantees in life, no avoiding risk…
It is into this faith, this second faith, this human possibility, that we were baptized…
It is my hope, perhaps hoping against hope, that we come to ever more deeply know the stories, the rituals, the practices which inform our way whilst refusing to freeze, define, categorize, those elements of identity, never sacrificing human possibility or experience to any absolutizing divine or religious concept…
And perhaps, in the end, we may all claim St Thomas, doubting Thomas, as our patron saint, the patron saint of humanity fully alive.
¹ I write a/theism with a back slash to create a pause, an interruption. In the face of the exaggerated claims of a new militant atheism, which, in its eagerness, often overstates its claims, I refer to the original meaning of atheism, ‘without god’. Consequently, I speak of necessary denials of certain understandings of god (e.g. denials of the Master God, the Uber Being), a stance, which, while at times dismissive, allows for god after god, honouring a deep agnosia, the unknowability of humility.
² This faith is different than belief. It defies definition pointing to a hope, a certain hoping against hope, a way of seeing life in which possibility is alight without burning realities lived, without denying the unexpected, the unknowable or the work attendant to living.