Monday, May 25, 2009

On Faith

I took this picture of the entrance to Faith, South Dakota (in Ranch Country--which is not far from another exit/entrance to Faith) with thoughts I may use it for a sermon illustration or presentation some day. I try to keep a small bank of images for that purpose. I will stay away from the faith journey image (ugh--old and tired). Faith is actually a challenging discussion for a pastor, because parishioners who come to me to discuss faith are usually looking for assurance. Assurance is only a fraction of faith as far as I am concerned. Assurance is an important topic--but not the only topic.

A good friend and I shared lunch recently. He makes his living as a philosopher/teacher. We enjoy asking each other questions about our craft/academic specialty. He is a far better philosopher than I am a theologian--he reads and writes to the point where I wonder if he ever sleeps. Yet he still is devoted to his wife, family and faith, and still has time to dissect episodes of House with me.

I may not see him for awhile, so I should probably continue this stream of conversation via email. During our last talk we touched on the recent wave of neo-atheist authors. First of all, they (Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris) seem more interested in selling their books than working on their craft. Then guys like Bill Maher (whom I happen to enjoy his commentary on the news) makes a movie lampooning religion and supposed adults who have an "imaginary friend (a god)." Though I have read only excerpts of their work, I am initially persuaded by their critics in that the neo-atheists are not necessarily intellectual heavyweights, but people who are more pissed off at God, or at the state of the world because of religion, or a combination thereof. I asked if Nietzsche was a better atheist--one with teeth. My friend was interested in my question, but we didn't finish the thought. We had so many topics to cover that day, and at least initially we found that House was a much more worthy topic of discussion regarding atheism than Hitchens.

My hope for the writers of House is that they do not give House faith, but that they give him a better direct challenge from a person of faith to his thoughts on faith or religion than the two I've seen in five seasons: a diminutive nun, and a crackpot Christian faith healer were probably the worst possible matches for House's intellect.

The next step for me is to read more of Hitchens, Dawkins, or Harris. Rather than raise their rating on Amazon or give them more money by buying their book from Barnes and Noble, I'm going to head to my local library. My faith and theology always need work--I subscribe to the idea that resistance training, even on matters of faith, is good for the body.

No comments: