i’ve written for the Age today – it’s just a faith column, so it’s not online, but the text goes like this:
Is it just me, or is everything going to pot? I’ve been stuck in a fog of despair, anger and hopelessness about the state of the world lately, which seems to get thicker with each newspaper headline I read. I don’t know that I need any more evidence to believe that this is indeed the darkest moment in history.
I’m relieved that people in every age have wondered that – maybe the world’s not sliding into some immanent abyss – but I’m also realising, perhaps for the first time, that it’s not becoming a better place. I had no idea how much of me was depending on that to be true.
At some point over the last few weeks, while finding my way through this fog, I realised that I was holding onto a remnant of an old faith in an all-powerful God who would be able to fix everything and make it right. It was like I driving in this fog with my headlights on high beam. The space just in front of me was lit up like a false daylight, but it was impossible to see anything else. The light made navigating rather dangerous. The only way to get through safely was to turn the headlights off, get out of the car and just walk.
Curiously, with the lights of an abandoned faith switched off it’s possible to see the landscape of the world I’m walking through in a whole new way: strangely fragile, but all the more beautiful, remarkable and precious for being so.
The faith that;s come to me now [unbidden, and sometimes unwanted] is very different. It’s faith in something weak and fragile. Christianity, the faith that formed me, has an awkward, embarrassed relationship with weakness. It’s often explained away the weakness of Jesus, as shown on the cross, as a choice by God used to actually demonstrate God’s power. The faith I hold now bears no resemblance to power: it’s in a fragile love, a weak force, a stirring, an invitation which has been in the world since life first was born within chaos, but whose survival is by no means assured.
Do I believe there is a God who created the world? I don’t think so. Do I believe there is a force – fragile, vulnerable, weak and yet still relentless – that sometimes causes peace to be born out of despair, and life out of chaos? That’s the faith that comes to me unbidden.
I wish I were as convinced as I sound in that last paragraph. It’s not that I doubt – I’ve never been more sure of what I (don’t) believe than now. It’s that I’d rather not believe in this fragile God, because i really wish there was a more certain, more foolproof way. But in reality, the only hope I’ve experienced comes from not believing that there is someone or thing that holds the world, and has it under control; but rather that there is whisper of invitation – that seems to come from within life itself – that calls me to seek a way that’s powerless and fragile, and to find the hope that can only be born there.