Posted by: Dan | January 11, 2009

3 Doubts: A Meme

There have been a lot of memes thrown out there, but I thought I’d try something a little different.  In this meme, I invite any and everybody to share three doubts that they have, but try to hide or suppress.  So, even though this meme requires a little vulnerability, do feel free to add your own doubts to the comments section, or to your own blog.  Here are my three:

(1) Sometimes I doubt it all.  Sometimes I doubt what I have taken to be my prior and current encounters with God and wonder if they were something altogether different (manipulated experiences, emotional breakdowns, whatever).  Sometimes I wonder if I’m entirely wrong about this loving God person, because things are so horribly fucked and have been so horribly fucked for a long time.

(2) Sometimes I doubt the idea that any of us can ever be truly healed from our deepest wounds… at least here and now.  Sometimes I think that all we can do is learn to repress them, ignore them, and lie to ourselves about them… because even when I’ve thought my oldest and deepest wounds had covered over, I discover that they still split open at unexpected moments.  I’ve also witnessed this same thing in a lot of other people.

(3) Sometimes I doubt my ability to honestly encounter myself, let alone the world around me.  This, then ties into the last two doubts mentioned: (1) I might be wrong about it all, because I might be lying to myself about it all; (2) and I might be wrong about my wounds healing over, because I lie to myself about myself.  That is to say, sometimes I wonder if I have become so adept at deceiving others about myself, that I’ve lost track of the spots where I was being deceptive and the spots where I was being honest.  So, once you becomes encapsulated within an illusory projection of yourself, how do you get out?  Can you?  Sometimes I doubt it.

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Responses

  1. Three Doubts:

    1) I also sometimes doubt my paradigm of Christianity. I doubt that the experiences I have with the miraculous fit into the Christian story. I think it might be accredited to the power of positive thinking or some impersonal force. This doubt, nevertheless, is a minority in the voices of my soul but it is present.

    2) I sometimes doubt the ability of the Kingdom of God to invade history. I doubt that God will heal certain people despite amazing stories and my own encounters (e.g. Heidi and Rolland Baker’s experiences in Africa).

    3) I also sometimes believe that my wounds are permanent scars.

    Sorry that mine are so similar, but these are probably my three most powerful (though not ever-present) doubts.

    Newbigin’s “Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt, and Certainty in Christian Discipleship” has helped me to view doubt a differently, though I am still wrapping my mind around the paradigm. I am excited to one day investigate Michael Polyani’s understanding of doubt as well since Newbigin (and a real good friend of mine) speak highly of him. Have you read any of these guy’s Dan?

  2. Well, gosh-darn it Dan (sorry for the harsh language), i was just finishing up a lengthy reply to your previous, very challenging post on the ‘crisis of meaning’ and up popped this one on doubt and despair! I was about ready to drive up to Vancouver and take away your belt and any sharp objects! (and confiscate any books by Camus, Sartre, and Nietzsche, and all copies of the Matrix { no one ever said what would happen if you swallowed both the blue and the red pill } ). I doubt (#1) if it will help you feel much better (not that you asked for that) to know that many of us out here share similar doubts and crisis of being (some folks (me) often take some solace in believing our suffering is somehow unique and therefor confirms a solipsistic fixation on our own anxiety–then again, maybe misery does love company, but does it call us the next day like it promised? I doubt (#2) if any more book suggestions would help address y(our)…..condition(?) in a significant way. I have gone thru a multitude of crisis (i am 56) and have had well meaning folks proscribe books guaranteed to address my ‘issues.’ I dump most of them off at second hand stores off the Island where i live so my friends won’t stumble upon them and have their feelings hurt. However, though i reckon this is a Christian site, try reading more Jewish writers (lacking in your booklists) and not just the ones in the bible (this is sort of a general suggestion, like ‘get more exercise’). I mentioned before Rabbi Kalonymous Shapira, the chief Rebbe of the Warsaw Ghetto. Even after losing his family and witnessing the destruction of his entire world, he continued to write homilies and give pastoral care. His writings were discovered many years later where he had hid them before he was killed. I Used him along with Emmanuel Levinas as devotional ‘crisis management’ (not resolution) while at Pine Ridge some years ago. Oh, and watch some Woody Allen movies, especially “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” the philosopher he is documenting I always thought referred to Heidegger (talk about a crisis of ‘Being’). I won’t spoil the ending of the movie, but it is quite different than the actual Heidegger who spent his final days in the back pews of the Catholic church muttering “Dasein! Dasein! and mingling his tears with holy water. Recall his final sentence in that famous 1976 interview with Der Spiegel (and put aside his dalliance with the Nazi’s for now). Well, i doubt (#3) that any of this is going to help anybody much, but then…you didn’t ask for any help…did you. Looking fwd to your next post. Shalom, and blessings to you and your family, daniel, dn here on whidbey. (ps. any names picked out for that new baby?)

  3. Wrestled with this one the last 24 hrs. Working night shift in the intensive care unit of a hospital as a cleaner gives me too much brain time:)

    So far, Ive only come up with two… Not even sure they are properly thought through… And is prompted in part by your latest post.

    1. -I doubt that the churches shifting and morphing through out history is “Gods spirit” correcting things.

    2.-When I hear the popular theological talk about xians task being to “bring the kingdom”, (ie: on earth as it is in heaven)I doubt that this is anything more than an attempt to rationalise the cold hard reality that nothing is changing or has changed or looks like changing in human affairs.

    Ill add another one later if I think of one…:)

  4. Nice meme. It’s a good thing to read of other people’s doubts. Makes me realise that mine are pretty garden variety when it comes down to it, makes me think I’m not as total a complete freakazoid as I think I am. I like this meme :)

    Okay.

    1) Sometimes I doubt that God really gives any kind of a great big flying fuck about what’s going on. Sometimes I wonder if he fell asleep in the corner and been sucked into a black hole. And then sometimes I wonder if I am expecting God to do what I myself can do and it’s convenient to just sit back and expect him/her to do it and then I can whinge and not go out of my comfort zone. But sometimes I think we are so up against it living in these bizarre times and that no wonder we are all reeling to and fro, and a bit of massive enormous healing would be sorta kinda nice so then we could go out and love other people without so much of our own shit getting in the way

    2) Sometimes I doubt that I will ever be truly happy again, you know? I mean, sure, I anticipate feeling joy. But the joy is a separate thing to happiness. I would like to know that maybe at some point in my future again I will be happy for a week on end. Maybe that’s too much to ask in these days of toing and froing, I don’t know. And hey, not dissing the joy.

    3) Sometimes I doubt that I am ever going to get another short story written ever ever ever ever

    4) Sometimes I doubt that we have any conception, us humanity, in this era, of what love really is. Sometimes I think God is going to show us. Sometimes I doubt God is going to show us.

    5) I doubt that I am ever going to find a job that doesn’t bore the shit out of me.

    6) I doubt I will ever stop swearing.

    7) I doubt I will ever stick to meme rules :)

  5. You can have one of mine if you want, Monk :)

  6. […] faith Daniel over at On Journeying With Those in Exile put forward his own meme of sorts: 3 Doubts. Now, while this makes me a bit more… visible than I’d like on the internet, this meme […]

  7. Wow, you just hijacked my brain and posted it on the internet.

    Those are pretty much my own personal doubts, near verbatim.

    I haven’t come to the questioning of the Loving God, but I have definitely come to question just exactly what “Loving God” means.

    May you be blessed.

  8. wow this is difficult.

    1. as a human being in this world that believes in a God, i doubt that i will ever truly, fully understand and know this God to the point that i will not doubt

    2. as a limited being i doubt that i will ever understand a concept that is infinite and limitless (i guess this is the same as the first one…does this mean i get another?)

    3. i doubt that i will ever meet my own expectations for myself in fulfilling the purpose that God has sent me here because i sometimes doubt that God has a specific purpose for me to be here, because i cannot understand Him. perhaps all things that i do are His purpose. or maybe i cannot meet my expectations but i am living all of His.

    4. (my extra one) i doubt that anyone knows anything fully about things of faith or perhaps anything, to the point that they do not have a little bit of doubt…we are always wrong in our stubborn thoughts of being right.

    (man i gotta stop procrastinating…or do i)

    daeshin

  9. sorry one more thing.

    For me it is what is the extent of God’s love…is there a limit?

  10. Hi there – I know you posted this a while ago but I’ve been thinking about it ever since. I experience many of the same doubts noted above. However, a new and troubling one for me is the origin and purpose of sin/pain in the world (although I know that this is just an aspect of the ‘problem of pain’). Since I – well – percieve the story of creation as a poetic illustration of a difficult to express process… I now doubt ‘original sin’.

    That is to say – I doubt that any one person or community originally sinned, so putting humankind and the world at the mercy of evil, hence I don’t know what justification there is for pain, hence I doubt God’s goodness…

    [Although I do not doubt God’s goodness for too long at any one time otherwise my head would implode and I would melt down into a pool of primeval slime. How DO athiests survive purposeless suffering?]

  11. 1. I doubt everything. For me this is not a question raised in particular by how fucked-up the world is. I’m satisfied that the world can be highly fucked-up without that casting doubt on the goodness of God. I’m also satisfied that no matter how un-fucked-up the world might someday become, that won’t convince anyone of the truth of Christian claims, and it wouldn’t even convince me all the way. I just think the truth of Christianity is in doubt, it always has been as long as I’ve been alive, and it will not become less in doubt as time goes on. So for every assertion that a Christian makes (including myself) on the basis of Scripture, or church authority, or mystical insight, the thought will enter my mind without fail: but it might not be true. And I can usually think of some good reasons to doubt it.

    2. I doubt the relevance of apologetics. I think it’s possible that Christianity could be true without anyone being irrational in rejecting it. I’ve seen some acknowledgment of this by other people, which is helpful (Barth, to begin with, right?). So I doubt the worth and wisdom of the extravagant amount of effort directed at trying to make the gospel make sense for people who don’t already believe it. I think it might amount to a shell game, to pure rhetoric with nothing at its base.

    3. I doubt my sense of calling. It seems entirely possible that I will get to the end of my life without shaking the feeling that it was all a farce. I felt that way about being a Christian, about being a teacher, and I’m feeling it now about writing. I have these delusions of grandeur, and eventually they will evaporate with nothing to show for them. That’s a doubt that I really do try to suppress, because its so intimately interwoven with my depression.

  12. “Sometimes I doubt the idea that any of us can ever be truly healed from our deepest wounds… at least here and now. Sometimes I think that all we can do is learn to repress them, ignore them, and lie to ourselves about them… because even when I’ve thought my oldest and deepest wounds had covered over, I discover that they still split open at unexpected moments. I’ve also witnessed this same thing in a lot of other people.”

    I think this is a very honest assessment of the situation and sums up what I’ve come to believe is the main problem with the contemporary Church.
    It’s too surface oriented and cerebral. Christian religion as it’s commonly practiced has no way to help people penetrate the surface and go deeply into the conditioned responses that keep us locked in cycles of depression, guilt, and pain. Most of all we are not taught to deeply feel and stop running from our anxiety and fear of death, to accept and penetrate our deep nothingness in God. This goes much deeper than Kierekgaard, psychology, and the existentialists.

    Just my two cents but I would continue to follow this anxiety and doubt.


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