I’ve been thinking a lot about being dogmatic, about how a system of ideologies can color our thinking and shape our perception, keeping us from truth or not allowing ourselves to consider facts as they are. Avoiding ideological blinders has become increasingly difficult, and blogging has not helped. I aspire to be less ideological in my reading and thinking. But is it possible to be non-ideological and religious?
This morning, I read President Obama’s speech at Notre Dame, and I was struck by his approach:
In this world of competing claims about what is right and what is true, have confidence in the values with which you’ve been raised and educated. Be unafraid to speak your mind when those values are at stake. Hold firm to your faith and allow it to guide you on your journey. Stand as a lighthouse.
But remember too that the ultimate irony of faith is that it necessarily admits doubt. It is the belief in things not seen. It is beyond our capacity as human beings to know with certainty what God has planned for us or what He asks of us, and those of us who believe must trust that His wisdom is greater than our own.
This doubt should not push us away from our faith. But it should humble us. It should temper our passions, and cause us to be wary of self-righteousness. It should compel us to remain open, and curious, and eager to continue the moral and spiritual debate that began for so many of you within the walls of Notre Dame. And within our vast democracy, this doubt should remind us to persuade through reason, through an appeal whenever we can to universal rather than parochial principles, and most of all through an abiding example of good works, charity, kindness, and service that moves hearts and minds.
Some comments and questions:
- I find this to be a compelling model, although I wonder how to make the jump between being a lighthouse and admitting to doubt as a practical matter. I would like to think I do that myself, and I certainly have many excellent models of that behavior, including some of my ‘internet friends,’ but I can’t really explain how it works.
- Many Mormons would find this treatment of the relationship between faith, doubt and humility tricky. I myself do not. My own faith has developed through exploring my own doubts; the borderland between my belief and unbelief is where I find truth. I recognize that our language of testimony (‘I know these things are true’) speak to a rejection of doubt. However, our contemporary church leaders seem to exhibit caution in declaring the will and knowledge of God that I assume is rooted in an understanding of the limits of faith and knowledge. Is that my wishful thinking?
- Do the truth claims of Mormonism make it difficult for a majority of Mormons to accept this model of ‘moral and spiritual debate’? As a people, do we want to ‘temper our passions’?
- How do our conversations on the blogs reflect the realities of our faith?
Please consider the title of the post when commenting.