Doubt: Harmonious Convergence

March 13, 2021        Lent B4                      

Glendale City Church       Sermon 5 of 8

FOUR STAGES & BOOK

  • Stage 1: Simplicity.     Right vs. Wrong.  Good vs. Evil.  Safe vs. Dangerous.
  • Stage 2: Complexity.  How do I succeed?  How do I win?  
  • Stage 3: Perplexity.     What is true?  Who can I trust?  What is worth standing for?
  • Stage 4: Harmony.       Today
  • Faith After Doubt: Why Your Beliefs Stopped Working and What to Do About It, Brian D. McLaren, 2021

TODD’S STORY

CHARACTERISTICS OF STAGE 4 SPIRITUALITY: HARMONY

  • Stage 3’s triumphant march to certainty finally stops and you realize:
    • Ultimate truth cannot be attained—you can’t find all the answers
    • Relationships are risky—there will be pain, sorrow, loss and heartbreak
    • There are no superheroes—you can’t fight every battle and stop injustice by yourself
    • Brian McLaren—”But in the hot crucible of doubt we experienced in late Perplexity, we began to become cynical about our own cynicism, skeptical of our own skepticism, critical of our own critical thinking, doubting of our own doubtfulness. Our naive certainty, excessive confidence, and obsessive deconstruction began to burn away in a self-consuming blast furnace. We finally descended to a point so low that instead of looking down on everything, we had to look up at it from a humbled position of under-standing, you might say, and in so doing, we became capable of encountering something without needing to control it. Rather, we were able simply to see it, perhaps even to see it with love.” –Faith After Doubt, pp. 98-99
  • Embrace non-dualistic thinking and a universe where everything belongs.  Worldview shifts from either/or to both/and.  Binaries are swallowed by larger unities. Diversity is welcomed without division & difference is heard without dissonance.
    • M. Scott Peck: “Mystics of every shade of religious belief have spoken of unity, of an underlying connectedness between things: between men and women, between us and the other creatures and even inanimate matter as well, a fitting together according to an ordinarily invisible fabric underlying the cosmos.”  –The Different Drum, p. 192
  • Delight in the unknown and ongoing quest for new discovery of the unknown.  There is much less certainty and much more mystery.  Rediscover wonder and awe.  A second simplicity or second naivete. 
    • Serenity Prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
  • Find community with the broad diversity of humanity.  A stage four mystic will have relationships with people that defy categorization.  
    • M. Scott Peck: “Having become practiced at emptying themselves of preconceived notions and prejudices and able to perceive the invisible underlying fabric that connects everything, they do not think in terms of factions or blocs or even national boundaries; they know this to be one world…and realize that what divides us into warring camps is precisely the lack of this awareness.”  –The Different Drum, p. 193 
  • What Matters: Faith, Hope and Love…and Mostly Love
    • “We must here make a clear distinction between belief and faith, because, in general practice, belief has come to mean a state of mind which is almost the opposite of faith. Belief, as I use the word here, is the insistence that the truth is what one would “lief” or wish it to be. The believer will open his mind to the truth on the condition that it fits in with his preconceived ideas and wishes. Faith, on the other hand, is an unreserved opening of the mind to the truth, whatever it may turn out to be. Faith has no preconceptions; it is a plunge into the unknown. Belief clings, but faith lets go. In this sense of the word, faith is the essential virtue of science, and likewise of any religion that is not self-deception.” –Alan Watts, as quoted in Faith After Doubt, p. 117. 
    • “Faith before doubt: it’s about correct beliefs. Faith after doubt: it’s about revolutionary love. By revolutionary love, I mean love beyond: love that goes beyond myself to my neighbor, beyond my neighbor to the stranger, alien, other, outcast, and outsider; beyond the outsider to the critic, antagonist, opponent, and enemy; and even beyond the human to my non-human fellow creatures. In short, revolutionary love means loving as God would love: infinitely, graciously, extravagantly.” –Faith  After Doubt, pp. 116-117

Benediction: Give Me Doubt

The Brilliance

Give me doubt so I can see my neighbor as myself
Give me doubt so I can lay all my weapons on the ground
When the armor of God is too heavy for peace

Give me doubt, give me doubt

What be my courage now?
My shield from evil?
Love, be my courage now
I shall not fear

Give me doubt so I can see my neighbor as myself
Give me doubt so I can lay all my weapons on the ground
When the armor of God is too heavy for peace
Give me doubt, give me doubt
Give me doubt

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