doubt & faith: owning our egocentric tendencies

kathyescobar spiritual formation, the refuge 6 Comments

every day this week i meant to post but here i am, squeaking by before the end of the week and before our next refuge gathering tomorrow evening.  i am still typing on my old irritating computer but the big news at my house is that a lovely group of friends pooled together and bought me a new MAC pro!  it is the biggest gift i have ever received (and a little hard for me to receive, but i am going to buck up and just be oh so very thankful) & i am so excited about not having to fight daily with my current laptop.

i am continuing a very short series of posts about the conversations we’re having at our saturday refuge gathering on doubt & faith.

last saturday eve my friend craig spinks facilitated our conversation on doubt & faith.  he used this video from his site, recycle your faith, that focused on the potential “branding” of christianity.   he did a great job, mixing it up and interviewing different groups of people in the middle while we were able to observe and participate from the outside. i’d encourage you to watch it and see what it stirs up in you.

the conversation went all over the place and there were many different ideas that i resonated with or disagreed with in different ways, but one word i have been thinking of over this past week when reflecting on this theme:   egocentrism. here’s the definition:  “having or regarding the self or the individual as the center of all things” or “having little or no regard for interests, beliefs, or attitudes other than one’s own; self-centered.” i remember in world history or sociology or one of those classes learning about ethnocentrism, “the belief in the inherent superiority of one’s own ethnic group or culture.”

no one who shared reflected that idea, but some of craig’s questions stirred this pot.  he asked:  what would happen if we were born in a totally different culture, are we sure we’d be christians? and what if christianity is just a brand of something that is more deeply embedded across religions and we just have our own twists & nuances?  how are we influenced by the packaging/branding and not necessarily what’s underneath? it is always interesting to me how tightly we hold on to “our way” as “the way” and that usually that doesn’t give a lot of room for those who might have different experiences with God or Jesus or all kinds of other things.

there is no way to encapsulate a live conversation, but one thing that seemed to really emerge was how each person’s belief in Jesus did not come from a structure, a dogma, or some kind of packaging. it came from some kind of holy-spirit-meaningful-shift-in-a-deep-place-in-their-heart. i thought of the post i wrote a few weeks ago about practical theology and the blind man who was healed.  his experience with Jesus was all that mattered; the religious leaders could argue all they wanted about all of the peripheral theological issues and it didn’t change that he was blind and now he could see.

my favorite quote of the evening from the middle group was: “i don’t care one bit about ‘christianity’ but i do care deeply and passionately about the body of Christ.”

for me, i think the takeaway is just to keep being honest about my egocentric tendencies when it comes to issues of life and faith.  oh i can recall so many conversations where i was just plain ol’ rude & judgemental to people who had different faith experiences than mine.   i am glad some of that has shifted over the years,  but i admit that sometimes my “evangelometer” goes off now and then in certain conversations because i know what a good evangelical is supposed to say when people are saying (or not saying) certain things!

the bottom line for me is that my faith experience is very important to me, but others have all kinds of different experiences that are just as important to them.   respecting and valuing and learning from each other and trusting God is somehow at work in ways that have nothing to do with my limited perspective is so important.

  • how do you resonate with this idea of egocentrism when it comes to issues of faith?

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ps: i only post  on the refuge blog once in a while, but i do have a very short post/prayer up there about this topic of doubt & faith–the doubter’s prayer