Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Big Wonder

I have been rolling these thoughts around in my head for several weeks and can't make sense of them still. They aren't hooking their carts up to other thoughts nor are they sorting themselves into the
appropriate cubby holes for future reference. Perhaps putting them down "on paper" will help.

A few weeks ago I was able to listen to the whole Speaking of Faith interview with Fr. Guy Consolmagno and Fr. George Coyne, two Jesuit monks who are astronomers with the Vatican Observatory. That is a sentence worth repeating and paying attention to- astronomers at the Vatican Observatory. Who knew there was an Observatory at the Vatican (or that they have an outpost in Arizona) or that there are monks with PhD's in Astronomy? I was also dumbfounded to learn that the Vatican Observatory has the largest collection of asteroids in the world.

What really grabbed me about this conversation between Krista Tippett and her two guests is how happy they both seemed. They were living their lives doing exactly what they wanted and were filled with joy while doing it. They both expressed awe and wonder at the world around them. Most astoundingly neither felt conflict in pursuing faith and hard science. The world was put before them to discover and more deeply understand their God.

This is not to say it was easy. Fr. Coyne said that faith is a daily struggle and not a given. He said there is an assumption by lay people that people of faith are sure of their beliefs. He stated that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty.

Religion is something I have struggled with since my youth. As a young girl I questioned my church going neighbors, occasionally attended church with friends and replicated rituals I had learned at my first grade Catholic school with blocks for an alter and raisins to represent the body of Christ. In college I befriended Moonies and a feminist friend graduated to join a convent and move to South America. I was attracted to people with strong faith- much to the chagrin of my atheist Mom. I think I wanted to know more.

People of faith seem at peace with the world and the horrific things that happen. I could dismiss theirs as a simplistic view but I have to admit a bit of jealousy, and I think I am not alone in this jealousy. Many of the ideas from conventional religious faith have been co-opted by modern spiritual or secular humanist thought: be at peace with yourself, karma, ritual, communion, etc. But it seems stripped of the rigor of religious humanism. Why has this divide been created between spiritual journeying and the established religions?

I keep coming back to the two Jesuits who have reconciled their faith with the world around them, led productive lives, joined in the messy fray of human interaction and are joyful in the process. I am not sure this is something I can attain or if religion is a requirement to attain it. Or perhaps this is a lifelong quest.

Hellllooooo out there- any answers?


Michelle said...

See, that is why I only listen to head bopping music in the car, can't think and drive at the same time!

SMC said...

Okay. Suggestion #1: Turn the music up.

Anonymous said...

I love readding, and thanks for your artical. ........................................