I’m Not Sure What (and How) to Believe Anymore – Post 1

“I’m Not Sure What (and How) to Believe Anymore ” or  “How Buying a Coffee Grinder Can Ruin Your Faith” – Post 1

There I was trying to figure out which burr coffee grinder to buy. I was on Amazon, clicking through the options, I even had my Note application open. What was supposed to take e a few minutes turned embarrassingly longer as I became completely indecisive. I opened the browser wanting a decent black one and became overwhelmed with the many grind options, various designs, different capacities, significant price disparities (“You can pay that much for one – does it fly you down to Costa Rica and pick/roast the beans for you??”).

Then of course, frustration set in while reading the comment section. Customers were literally reporting the exact opposite experiences from each other. There was: “By far the best burr grinder on the market – buy this one – you’ll thank me!” followed by something in ALL CAPS like, “Don’t buy this one – broke within two weeks, customer service nightmare – do some more research!”

This happens countless times during my online reading of news reports, blogs, ezines and various sites. It could be theological, political, cultural or trivial. Recently, the posts have been about racism, millennials, Isis, and those worthless time-waster pictures. For some reason, I must know if that picture was fake or not and for some other ridiculous reason, apparently I think if I just scroll down long enough, someone in the comment thread is going to have the silver bullet answer for me … and no one ever does. 

Then when it comes to an important issue, I scroll and click and read and scan for intelligent comments while trying to resist the ignorant or trolling ones, re-read and process and and leave often with less than I thought I had.

They say the search is good, I know it’s true, but it doesn’t always feel that way. From the important to the trivial, I don’t know what to believe anymore and some days, I don’t know how to either.

What is the process? I’ve let too many people in and some days I’m reading too much and thinking less. Other days I’m spinning my wheels in my own thought and not listening to any other voices or outside wisdom. And what does wisdom sound like, where is it found, how does God speak and who does He speak through?

Whether one is buying a coffee grinder or trying to be informed on an issue, it’s appropriate to take some inventory. How are we spending our money, and on what? (Do I even need a coffee grinder? God was clear on that one, “Yes”). How are we spending our energy, including our mental and emotional energy, what opinions, convictions, relationships, actions, conversations will we hold and invest in? On some level, this is all part of our stewardship, this is all part of our worship, it’s all part of life.

It feels balance is needed between being too impulsive and too hesitant. We can procrastinate in ever doing anything worthy and we can jump right in to the poorly thought, worthless things as well. And so I ask myself where is my intellectual confidence? I used to know everything. Well I used to know a lot. Ok, these days, I like to try to be informed. Perhaps I took Socrates too seriously when he suggested that in knowing nothing, we can know/learn more. There are too many holes in my epistemological basket these days, where’s the duct tape of reason, certainty, and true knowledge? 

Predictably I’m supposed to say, “Jesus!” And I’ll probably get there but randomly shouting out “Jesus!” feels slightly too convenient and very lazy since I don’t really have a question framed. And in all seriousness, just inserting “Jesus” into anything risks using his name in vain. We thought it was just about not using his name when hiding our anger or astonishment, we can also do this by just being spiritually/intellectually inconsiderate.

Jesus may be the greatest answer to it all, but sometimes I am just trying to buy a burr coffee grinder, or learn more about process theology or try to deepen my understanding of fanatical Islam and countless other important, sacred and at times, trivial matters. Or to put it this way, Jesus may be the ultimate answer, but I’m not always asking the ultimate question. So in between, what do I believe and how do I arrive at those beliefs?

In the next post I want to explore the laziness of belief and spirituality that we can sometimes fall into. I have a couple of posts trying to unpack this for myself, grateful for your reads, thoughts, insights, push-backs, and for you being part of the journey.

Comments

  1. In part, you are showing the effects of a moderate amount of aging. As I get older, I find myself open to more and more different perspectives. On the other hand, some things have sorted themselves out better over time. For example, I am more certain now than I was in my 20’s and 30’s of the reality of Jesus’s death and resurrection in the time frame with which it usually associated, and I can, if someone is interested, tell them why. But a lot of the things that I now feel much more certain about have come not from days of research, but from years of living through them and finding out what works and what is clearly false.

    Since I have a couple of decades on you, I encourage you to have hope in learning what you really need to know to live well — although that may not help you much with latest burr coffee grinder.

  2. Great words of advice Jim. And what a great commercial for aging :)
    I’ll try to unpack this a bit in upcoming posts but in short, I’m completely convinced in believing the the resurrection (would welcome the even greater confidence that comes as you describe), I’m not as convinced in certain secondary/outlier doctrines (as why they are not core), or positions like pacifism & just-war theory, etc. I tend to fly goodness in the plurality of thought but with the goodness comes confusion and with that the desire for clarity, and with that the headache, then the move to prayer, Scripture, community, even blogging, lol – here we are.

    I can identify (in my small way) in the certainty that comes from the experience of living. There are now a few things I have seen clearer in my late 30’s than in my late 20’s. But if I may push back on something, it’s been my observation that not all older people are as wise as as the adages promises them to be. And if I may, there are some positions that seem to be more common in now older generations on matters such as race, gender roles/equality, that I would find to be untenable to put it politely. To be clear, there are countless amazing, profound, inspiring mea and women in older generations – we thank God for them – but not all are this way.

    Maybe we are talking about different things here but can I suspect that it could have been a similar type of grinding that has allowed you to have clarity and wisdom (among many other things with God’s leading) in some of your convictions?
    Much love to you my friend – thanks for pushing me – hoping I can do something similar.

  3. Yes, you’re right. I’m speaking from the point of view of someone who actually wants to know the truth enough to work at it (as I think I am). Hence your next Blog entry. Yes..

  4. Thanks Jim, your words feel confirming.

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