Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Faith and Being

I enjoy Public Radio’s “Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett.” This summer the name of the show changed to “Krista Tippett on Being.” The name change from Faith to Being reflects a change in the cultural discussion of spirituality.

In our society the cultural change began with the “spiritual but not religious” phenomenon, composed of those who had abandoned “organized religion” and the “institutional church” but still felt a spiritual longing.

But that adolescent rebellion against religious authority has run its course. In its place is a form of spirituality that transcends the normal categories of religion or spirituality.  It bridges atheism and theism; it connects science and faith.

While many churches and denominations are still fighting the old battles of evolution versus creation, people have moved on to the spirituality of science. While aging congregations are still fighting the “worship wars” of contemporary music versus traditional hymns, young emergent congregations are reenvisioning spiritual community.

While baby-boomers are still building “big box” churches and chasing the idols of bigger buildings and bigger crowds, people tired of warehouse religion are thinking outside the box.  Outside the box of religion and spirituality is Being.

I love the word Being. I have loved it ever since I first read Paul Tillich’s Christian philosophy back in the 1960’s. Being is bigger than Faith. It does not exclude faith; it envelops faith. Before there was faith, there was Being. After there is faith, there is Being. During life there is faith and Being; after death there is Being. 

After I die, I will no longer have faith in God. I will be in the Presence of God. In heaven there is no faith; there is no need for faith where there is sight. As the apostle says, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

But we also participate in Being now… by faith. Our present experience of the God who is Being is partial. There are glimpses, episodes, and experiences of Being. There is even an underlying awareness of the constant presence of Being.

But my attention wanders from Being into existence. I live between two worlds. But in truth there is only one world – the world of Being – of which existence is a shadow cast into time and space.

But until that day when there is no shadow (because there is no sun) we live in the shadowlands of faith. Conscious of Being, we exist by faith. Faith and Being walk hand in hand until the day dawns.
Image is a cartoon by Saul Steinberg, included in the original edition of the book “My Search for Absolutes” by Paul Tillich.

1 comment:

Jef Tobias said...

I disagree with your characterization of those who have abandoned organized religion but still have spiritual longings as participating in an "adolescent rebellion against religious authority." The implication is that those who fall into the above category are immature. I submit that neither you, nor I, nor anyone else has the proper perspective to make such a judgment. :)