Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

Fellowship of Saints and Sinners


An Invitation to All Half-Believers

Photo Credit: escapetoreality.org

Yesterday a kind friend said people would buy the book I’m writing for the same reason they show up at my blog: they don’t really “go to church” (my friend’s words) but something about the Christian faith and its world of symbols, maybe something about Jesus, still elicits some level of interest or even belief.  And so they find themselves here at this intersection, or picking up Grace Sticks at the train station or in an airport book store.

I hope my friend is right- not so much about the fact that people will buy the book (although that would be nice), but more about why folks like you come by every so often to visit, or would want to read a book like mine in the first place.

Because if this online gathering place is an intersection between life and God, it’s also, I hope, a back door to faith. The expression comes from an article in the current issue of The Christian Century, which reflects on the contributions of the British-born essayist, travel writer and novelist Graham Greene (1904-1991).  The article, titled “The half-believer,” gives me reason to add Graham Greene to my list of must reads and new crushes.  Greene, in addition to earning the epithet I would want if it hadn’t already been taken- “Thomas Merton on a frequent flier pass”- was one such “half believer”: he wanted to live a life embodied by the Gospel, even if that life eluded him, and even if he stood to a certain degree on the edges of the church; which may be why he called himself at times a “Catholic agnostic.”  Apparently, Greene was much more interested in stories about sinners who have lived at best morally mediocre lives but who in one decisive moment choose loving self-sacrifice.

I can identify.  Maybe because I’m a half-believer, too.  In fact, I’ve always been a half-believer, since the earliest I can remember.

The other day, I sat and talked with a ninety-seven-year-old woman who was waiting to be picked up for her weekly prayer meeting and Bible study.

“I just don’t see how people live in this world without God!,” she exclaimed, her born-and-raised Southern accent as always landing with crisp certainty on each word whenever the subject of God, faith or Scripture comes up.

And while I could agree in the moment, I didn’t say what I’ve also come to believe: “I just don’t see how people in this world can live with a faith in God that’s unassailed by doubt or unbelief.”

Just a few minutes later I would be praying with a woman who is a self-proclaimed agnostic.  She doesn’t believe in God most of the time, as she puts it, and she most certainly does not pray.  This was a first: we held hands, and she let me pray for her.

So if you’re a half-believer, you are warmly welcome here: the back door is unlocked and the porch light is always on, and inside you’ll find a plate of fresh-baked cookies (albeit not home-made, probably Pilsbury, from the frozen section at Kroger). And, be assured: there are a host of folks just like us who, maybe a bit embarrassed by our half belief, traipse in from the back door, trip in the dark over the welcome mat, curse under our breath, then whisper, “Help my unbelief.”

We’re all welcome, anyway.

And if you’re really hungry or need a drink, there may be some bread and wine on the counter. “Take and eat, this is the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ broken for you.”

 

 

 



  • Kristina Robb-Dover

    Hi Robert,

    Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your thoughts. I do appreciate them. I can appreciate your agnosticism around “the exclusive claims of any church,” as you put it.

    I hope you’ll come back.

    Best,
    Kristina

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Robert

    Thanks for the blog post. I just happened by and wonder what one could say, being a believer who only half believes in church. I am not a half believer in God, more an agnostic when it comes to the exclusive claims of any church.
    And as a somewhat disenchanted Catholic I like the quote from Garry Wills new book. I spent a few hours with it at a Barnes and Noble here on the East Coast.
    Actually, your expression of hospitality is righteous, it rings true. May God bless you while I hide in embarassment at the temerity I show by being so verbose, and all that. Whatever.

Previous Posts

"AA" Recovery Groups—Spirituality for the Non-Religious, Hope for the Church?
[caption id="attachment_5326" align="alignleft" width="271"] Bill Wilson co-founded Alcoholics Anonymous with Dr. Bob Smith in 1935. Their affectionately called "Big Book" is one of the best-selling books of all time, having sold more than 30 million copies since its publication. (Photo credit: Haze

posted 11:27:26am Sep. 02, 2014 | read full post »

Thoughtful Christians—They're Around, Via Fare Forward
The cover story from the latest (July/August) issue of Christianity Today offers a refreshing antidote to all the gloom and doom that often accom

posted 2:39:15am Aug. 27, 2014 | read full post »

New Job, New Book
You may have noticed that I've not shown up at this intersection during the last week or so.  A new job, and, with the new job, the promise of a new book projec

posted 2:49:05am Aug. 25, 2014 | read full post »

Mental Health Break—The Wittenburg Door
If you're not already familiar with the online humor magazine The Wittenburg Door, now you are: think The Onion marries Reformed Christian theology and they have a wickedly funny child with an aptitude for making you laugh at most things religion-related in this world.  A "thank you" to saint and s

posted 11:41:16am Aug. 16, 2014 | read full post »

What You Are Saying Re: Driscoll
My last post generated some helpful, constructive input from fellow saints and sinners who read it.  Thank you, all. Saint and sinner Bruce writes:  You know I respect you and appreciate your writing, but I think this is a pride issue, not an evangelical issue. The Catholic Church, Lutherans, P

posted 2:49:05pm Aug. 15, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.