I read a great article last night: “Why I Miss Being a Born-Again Christian.”
It’s a good read, short and interesting. After having studied the Bible from a secular standpoint at Yale the author, Melissa Misener, became agnostic. Yet much of what she wrote resonates with me, especially this morning as I was reading in the syrupy sentimentality of the Gospel of Luke:
“People were also bringing their children to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anybody who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Luke 18:15-17)
Blech. Verses like this superimposed over pictures of a white, blue-eyed Jesus dressed in shining white robes make me cynical. The deeper meaning in it—that we as adults ought to have childlike faith—seems either impossible or willfully stupid. How can anyone have faith in the Bible like a child after hearing the messy process of Nicea or Nicea’s modern grandchild of church politics today? Misener writes that she can no longer see God as anything but an opiate for the masses, a fantasy to comfort cowards from the cold reality of life (a comfort she herself admits to missing).
I agree: the baby Christianity that Misener and I both feel nostalgia for is easily crucified by an examination of the Bible’s ever-so-human origins. The difference between us is what others would call childishness: I, as a college-educated masters candidate, continue to insist that the world is full of magic. Don’t worry: I see the impossibility of it all. That an all-knowing being, full of both mercy and justice, created the world and everything in it and then wrote a book about it—it reeks of every kind of willful childish ignorance.
Christians are like the child that crosses his arms and pouts, “It’s not fair.” Agnostics are the parents that shrug, exasperated. “Life isn’t fair. Get over it.”
True, it’s childish to believe in justice, in mysteries like the Bible actually being—somehow, impossibly—true. My insistence that God created the universe and orchestrates a divine dance of redemption probably owes more to my love of fantasy novels than anything holier.
But I love the unsolvable mystery of the universe, the impossibilities that still happen every day. “The unknown” isn’t just a phrase from Star Trek; there are pockets of unknown all around us, especially on a philosophical scale. While my brain pulls me toward organized and systematic examination of the parameters of our human existence—science rocks and logic can heal—I love that there still is so much we don’t know and might never. And I suppose that’s childish.