29 April 2006

Modernist Despair: A Need for Faith

A comment I posted on Katherine's blog, that has sort of gained a life of its own. You may want to read this post of hers first.

You know what? I'm pretty sure that almost everyone feels this way sometimes. I mean, my family's one that you would probably consider very normal, but I went through a year in high school where I was convinced that I was completely alone, that no one cared. I didn't have any friends, much less any who only put me second to family. Among the girls our age at church, I felt left out and disconnected. My siblings, parents, and I constantly fought. I felt crushed by my family's relatively-not-great financial situation and overwhelmed by expectations at school. No one seemed to care about what I cared about, and I just couldn't connect.

I still feel that way sometimes, despite the relative stablity of my situation. I've begun to think that this feeling comes not as a result of our situation, but because we are human. Every one of us, in the extremity of our loneliness and isolation, feels the same, regardless of the relative "severity" of that extremity. An argument with a friend, the break-up of a family, or a devastating disease all can make us feel the same way. I've come to the determination that, in a strange way, these feelings are comforting because they remind us that we can feel, that we are part of the larger vision of humanity, who also endures the same suffering we do.

I've been feeling sort of annoyed towards Modernism at the moment. I feel like it forces us to only ask questions, rejecting the possibility of finding an answer. What it really has cut out of our lives is faith. We only trust what we can know, and since we can't know that we know anything, we are left with a broken pile of shattered questions. Not only do we have no answers, we can't even be sure that the questions are right. It essentially haults all progress in its tracks, paralyzing us with fear and doubt. (Hamlet much?)

What modernism needs to realize is that we don't need to know everything in order to do, act, and be. Sometimes we must do the best we can, and then just go, trusting in God to fill in the gap between our intent and our action. When I do that, I always find that I gain the knowledge I was looking for in the first place. When I refuse to try or trust, that's when I find I myself more in doubt than before. Those who do not act will not gain more knowledge; rather, they diminish, gradually losing even that which they had.

We must act like scientists: we can't perform every experiment possible, so we have to simply draw conclusions the best we can and do with them what we can. If we are proven wrong, then we change. We can never know if we are exactly right, but that's really not as important as we think. Even with the incomplete picture we have right now, there's so much that we can do. Why should we despair over what we can't?

As for finding a center, you won't be suprised to hear me says that the only center that can work is the gospel. Not the church, not family, not friends, not self, not intelligence. All other centers shift and change, sending our lives off balance if we allow them. As for finding that center, a relationship with God is the first thing to work on. Don't look for the Sunday School answers; you already know those. Look for Him, a being as real as anything. Once we can understand Him, all the rest falls into place.

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