Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Water-Cooler Confession

It's such a vulgar compulsion that some people have--of making a great show of their ambivalence on a given subject. That is, of broadcasting this ambivalence of itself, and there's an end of it. They do not do so in order to resolve anything; just to make it clear to the world that there's something that they're fuzzy on, that it's somehow very personal, and that they have mustered the courage to ... well, to not stare it in the face.

In a gratuitously thesisless piece entitled "Going to church when you have no faith" Vicki Woods presents us with a ripe example of the genre. After a thousand words or so of utterly inane blather she manages what can only be described as an anti-point:

I'm a baptised Anglican, who attended church until I was 15, when I lost all faith in faith itself and stopped for the most part doing God. If you cannot believe in the Virgin birth, or the Ascension, or the Trinity, why go?

I go - occasionally - because the ancient ritual sustains me. The language, the architecture, the communality of common worship.

My children were baptised, as I was. My neighbour the churchwarden thinks that keeping all the churches of the benefice open on Christmas morning, "even if people only go once a year", is important. So does the rector. I'm grateful for that and that's why I go.

(One assumes that it was in the same year of her solipsismal loss of "all faith in faith itself" that Ms. Woods stopped spelling her Christian name in the conventional manner; when, if you will, her why became an I. But to my point ...)

When on earth did it become, what?, challenging?, brave?, controversial?, to declare publically that, er, I don't really have an opinion on the matter as I've never bothered to give it more than a second's thought?

I mean: you lost all faith in faith itself?! How is that even possible? One doesn't have faith in faith, Vicki you twit, any more than one is convinced of conviction. It makes no sense! Rather, one has faith in God! Or, anyway, Christians do. To be sure: Christians are meant to work at faith in God. (Basic, basic stuff, sweetheart. The sort of thing that even a 15 year old could have told you--provided, of course, that he or she was actually paying attention in church.) Indeed, cultivating faith is for a lot of people the labour of a lifetime. So while it may very well be that you would prefer to do other things with your days than sitting around actively trusting in something that is of its essence mysterious (or "doing God," as you so unhiply put it), let's not insult reason--in addition to the Christian religion--by saying that you lost your faith when it's so clear that you abandoned it.

Ms. Woods wishes to impress us with the miraculous feat of her sitting between two stools. Christians, agnostics, and atheists alike will notice that she has only managed to fall on her ass.