The Inherent Hope of Uncertainty

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Like many in the South, I grew up thinking that faith required conviction, and that uncertainty, or doubt, was what we experienced in moments of duress or weakness.

Like many here and everywhere, the older I get, the more I realize that I (and everyone else, particularly those with the most unyielding beliefs – about religion, politics, how we ought to live, whose football coach is the biggest cheater, whether Coca Cola or Miracle Whip makes a more moist chocolate cake – you name it) am utterly clueless.

I will be 37 next month. My daughter is 12, and every year she can remember, one of the teachers in her public school has asked the class to raise their hand as she reads off a list of Christian denominations. Because teachers when I was growing up did exactly the same thing during history units about “religious diversity” or the Reformation or the Puritans, I believe this is for the most part innocent if not completely ignorant, disrespectful and borderline unconstitutional.

And when she tells me she raises her hand for a different “random” denomination each year because she doesn’t want to feel left out or – worse, be called out – my heart aches because I know exactly what it was like to feel “othered” because, unlike the kids who were unquestionably BAPTIST! or CHURCH OF CHRIST! or raise-your-hand-if-you-are-CATHOLIC!, I went to a tiny Lutheran church where I constantly questioned and even fought against most everything we were taught. Continue reading

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Things Thought and Mostly Unsaid at the End of the Year

A dog went for a walk before the sidewalk set, and left his impression in the wet concrete. A little boy noticed this and etched his initials nearby.
The boy enjoyed the moment, but I wonder what the dog thought.
Among the things I think about on when walking alone at the end of 2013: It would suck to step barefoot into wet cement.

Also…

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Why life is better when you can’t control it

Right now my family is waiting for my grandfather to die. He had a heart attack two weeks ago that tore an irreparable hole between ventricles. Doctors put him on hospice care and we have all been gathering in Birmingham, Alabama, to say goodbye.

Waiting for someone to die is in some ways waiting for someone to be born. You know the time will come. You may have an approximate idea of when that will be. But no one can tell you for sure, nor exactly how, nor what will happen next.

It’s natural to feel anxious by such lack of specificity, in death or any other human endeavor.

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Is There Anything New Under The Sun?

Lily on her last day of being 10.

My daughter, Lily, on her last day of being 10. She says, “Yes, there is much new under the sun.”

Is there anything new under the sun?

Solomon says no.

With a little more than one day left in 2012, the speaker at our church Sunday asked the congregation what we thought.

I gave the question a solid half hour or so, I promise.

Then my 11-year-old daughter and I went about our frantic, thank-god-the-holidays-are-almost-over, suburban rainy day.

Some lowlights:

– We argued about her nail polish. (She said it was dry, I said it was wet, and when she smudged it and I said ‘I told you so’, she refused to speak to me for at least three whole Taylor Swift songs.)

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