Thursday, June 4, 2020

Thoughts on Faith

In 2009 at the age of 30, after years of agnosticism, having become increasingly sympathetic to Christianity, I decided that despite not being a naturally religious person, I loved the music, art, and architecture it had inspired too much not to believe it is true. I know that being an Episcopalian and a member of Church of the Incarnation has blessed my life in many ways. But sometimes I still can't help wondering if I ever truly understood any of it. I suspect that's what some of my Christian friends and acquaintances must silently think about me sometimes. My Anglicanism is all so inextricably bound up with both the British Monarchy and classical sacred choral music, I honestly don't know what I would do if anything ever happened to either of those things, even though I know God never promised that either would last forever. I'm not always sure what my Christianity means at a time when most Christians are, to put it mildly, focused on other matters.
Even though my longstanding habit of listening to Saint Thomas Church webcasts and BBC Choral Evensong prepared me to an extent for the current norm of online services, the longer we go without being able to have church as we did (and I'm not enthusiastic about resuming but without full choral or congregational singing), the more distant I feel from it all, despite the 1662 Book of Common Prayer sitting right here on my desk. And I've never really overcome a misanthropic tendency, arguably antithetical to the Gospel, to value traditions, institutions, aesthetics, and buildings over Humanity. I suppose I'm not a very good Christian by either progressive or conservative standards. Yet I am still convinced it's better to be some sort of Christian, even a bad one, than nothing at all. And somehow we have to persevere.
Westminster Abbey


Aaron Traas said...

That you feel more distant to your faith absent your liturgy is not surprising. I too find it challenging in these times -- more than I ever thought I did. How we pray *is* how we believe. The words aren't all of it; the actions and the aesthetics and the specifics matter, far more than either liberals and conservatives tend to recognize.

Though I often hope and pray you eventually arrive at the Catholic faith, as the very fate of your soul depends on it, I rather you stay with an imperfect faith than none at all. As Chesterton is quoted, "If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly." So I'll join you in being a bad Christian, which is certainly better than not being a Christian at all.

DM said...


Nearly a decade ago, I commented to somebody that I felt a bit guilty that I couldn’t muster the same devotion at a poorly executed liturgy as I could at one that was done with all due reverence and beauty.

She responded by saying something that has stuck with me ever since (and here I add some of my own commentary as well): God made us as sensory creatures. Our nature is composed of body and soul, both of which are essential to our nature and being, and both of these are also good. It is only natural, therefore, that our encounter with God should be made effective within us when the senses perceive something which approximates the supernatural reality that the Faith teaches about the liturgy, and in particular the Eucharist. It is not something that should make us feel guilty, therefore; if anything, this points to the fact that excellence in liturgy and music is something to which all Christians have an inalienable right, and which is furthermore essential to the salvation of souls. I am convinced that there will be a price to pay at the Last Judgment for all clergy and church employees who cause souls to fall away from God because of the lack of care that they pay to these matters.