Posted by: JLLH | March 11, 2009

A Preface to Opinion

This is my first official non-directed entry in the blog. For quite a while I’ve been at a loss as to why I’ve been so successful in avoiding entries. I’m usually much more proactive and I thrive on intellectual debates, so it makes no sense that I’ve remained silent for this long. Or it didn’t make sense until recently. This entry is predominantly in response to Garrett’s last post, but I wanted to make this its own entry because I want everyone in the class to know where I stand. I think I will be less apprehensive about contributing my thoughts to the blog once I get this out in the open.

I’m glad that Garrett mentioned the relative homogeny when it comes to religious backgrounds in the class because I cannot help but feeling like a minority voice. Unlike most students in our class, I was not raised with any formal religion. I attended a school that held chapel once a week, but it served as a place to encourage constructive values and social justice without any formal religion being imbued into the service. As a result, I’ve spent the majority of my childhood – if possible – neither atheist nor theist nor agnostic. God just wasn’t something I spent a lot of time thinking about. I didn’t ask religious questions for the most part because it was never anything discussed at home or at school. My parents didn’t reject religion; they just thought it would be best to let me make up my own mind about the matter.

I give this information to contextualize my current ideas and approach to this class. Right now I maintain a tenuous (at best) relationship with my faith life. Every time I read and prepare for this class I’m reminded of all of my doubts and issues with both Christianity and religion in general. I don’t perceive this as a negative aspect of my experience in class. In fact, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate way to spend my last semester as a theology major – tackling the fundamental issues I’ve engaged since high school (when I started pursuing the God question). I’ve never been one to hold back my ideas in a class (surprise surprise, lol) because I absolutely love discourse and growing/learning/being challenged by others’ thoughts. However, sometimes I feel that very few (if any) others understand where I’m coming from and what I’m trying to communicate. I can’t help but feel like the token agnostic. I cannot connect with the rest of the class at a very fundamental level because, even now, I don’t necessarily start with the foundational premise of God’s existence. And I’ve never felt so alienated in a class before. It’s not necessarily bad; it’s just different.

For some reason (and it’s only in this particular class) I always fear being wrong or saying something that is completely out in left field. So let me just forewarn everyone: I probably won’t have much consistency in my opinions. I wander and wonder about most issues the rest of you might soundly accept throughout the majority of your faith life. My brain’s default setting is exacting rationality. My natural reaction is to frame things using a very “black and white” methodology and I usually find initial discomfort in the gray. But if it’s one thing I’ve learned through my theological education at SLU, it’s that there is an undeniable beauty and spiritual (even intellectual, rarely) satisfaction in the gray. I usually have a significant amount of security in the ideas that I express because I’m typically well informed and consistent in my analyses.  But since my faith life is so capricious, I find myself feeling very vulnerable every time I want to post on the blog. Hopefully, now that I’ve at least expressed my feelings about everything, I’ll find both the classroom and the blog safer places for my thoughts.

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