Faith and Doubt at the 45th Parallel

Our lives are full of the ordinariness of daily living. Yet, some of our most profound moments are found in ordinary gestures. ‘All sacred experience and all journeys of soul lead us to the smallest moment of the most ordinary day.’ -Sue Monk Kidd, Dance of the Dissident Daughter, p. 221

My son earned his black belt in Tae Kwon Do when he was 11 years old. He gets all ‘A’s in school. He’s in the honor band, and was accepted into the IB program. He’s very driven and a high achiever. And I’m proud of him for all of his accomplishments. But there are things for which I am more proud of him, like the time we were sitting waiting for a table at the IHOP. An elderly woman was approaching the door outside. My then 13 year old, jumped up held open the door for her and offered her his seat. It is times like these that I am most proud of him.

Hermitage, France in Cote de Rhone, has been producing wine for over 2000 years. Wine was being produced here when Christ walked the earth. That just fires the imagination. I recently tried Paul Jaboulet Aine, Parallel 45. It is 60% Granache and 40% Syrah. The nose of the wine is chocolate and berries. The taste is raspberry, lemon, and soil. This is a smooth wine with a long tannic finish. The 45th parallel runs through Cote de Rhone. It’s an imaginary line, as is the line between faith and doubt.

If it‘s true that, ‘Doubt isn’t the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith.’ (Paul Tillich, The Language of God by Francis Collins p.33) then I have quite a lot of faith elements. I have been a devout Christian for most of my life, but lately have had a lot of elements. It isn’t that I’ve left religion. It’s more like religion has left me. I recently read the book, Mary Magdalene, a Biography by Father Bruce Chilton. In the book Father Chilton describes how he is confronted by the questions of a dying woman who wants to know, ‘who is there for me?’ The Bible is full of stories of men. Religion was designed by and is run by men. Who is there for us? The feminine divine is completely missing from Western religion. “Western Christianity’s fixation since the Middle Ages on an exclusively masculine deity tragically departs from Jesus’ conception of God.” -Bruce Chilton, Mary Magdalene: a Biography. P. 32

My Father always says that, ‘Miracles are everywhere. You just have to be open to them.’ While I don’t find spirit in church, nor do I find the feminine divine in the Bible, I do see the love of Christ in everyday occurrences, like an elderly couple holding hands, a young mother holding a baby, my son offering a stranger his seat. Perhaps the miracle to which my Father refers is the profundity of ordinary gestures.

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