by Ben Howard
"I'm probably wrong."
"Wrong about what?" I ask myself.
"Oh! Everything...probably. At least most things. To be more precise I am probably wrong about 90% of things. Except cake. I'm not wrong about cake. Unless, of course, I am. In which case I'm wrong about 91% of things."
"I don't think you're wrong about cake," my interior monologue counters.
"But what if I am? I mean, I don't think I am, but that's kind of the point isn't it? Nobody knows that they're wrong until they realize that they're wrong. You can only be wrong after the fact. Well, actually you were wrong all along, but you thought you were right and that was the only thing you knew. You only perceived yourself to be right. Maybe my perception about cake is entirely wrong."
"I don't think this is actually about cake. Unless it's about the band Cake in which case I think you take late-90's alt-rock far too seriously."
"You're right, it's not about cake. It might be about Cake, or at least the pyrrhic quest of the protagonist in 'The Distance'. I just wonder about the end goal of all the critiques and counter-critiques. It feels like everyone, myself included, is striving for some version of better/best, but such a pursuit necessitates a belief in a Platonic ideal for religion, for life, for reality in general. What if it's not actually possible to 'be right'? What if it's only possible to 'feel right'?"
"Are you saying there is no truth? No right answers? I don't know if I agree with that, it's a pretty bleak way to view the world. Also, are you stealing this artistic convention from Chuck Klosterman?"
"I'm not saying that there isn't a truth that underlies the universe. I believe in God and I believe God is the truth the underlies the universe, but I also believe that we can only ever see God through a glass, darkly. As a result, our perception of truth and reality will always be fuzzy and slightly askew. I guess it's more than a binary distinction between right and wrong, that false duality may be what's causing so much frustration. And yes, I am stealing this from Klosterman, but he probably stole it from someone else who stole it from someone else who ultimately stole it from Plato, so I feel like I'm in good company."
"I understand. It does serve as a useful vehicle to just openly say things you're trying to process."
"Exactly! I'm glad you understand."
"So what brought on this whole right/wrong existential crisis?"
"Christian leaders saying stupid things. To be more specific, my arrogant responses to Christian leaders saying stupid things. I realized that I was assuming that my faith, my interpretation was always right and I was judging everything against it. But that faith has changed so much over the last few years, and if I use history as a judge, it will continue to change and shift. My shifting, evolving faith isn't a very good benchmark to hold others to, that's not fair."
"So what should you judge them against?"
"That's exactly the problem I'm encountering. I can't judge them against my believe, because it's always moving. I can't accurately judge them by the Bible, because it's affected by my interpretation. I can't accurately judge them by historical Christianity because it's unfaithful to the contextual nature of faith. So I have to triangulate all of those and it's difficult.
"You could always, I don't know, try not judging them. That whole 'Judge not lest ye be judged' thing."
"I was going to get there eventually. I don't know, maybe some people need the message of Piper and Driscoll. I can't comprehend that, but I also can't comprehend people who like reggae, so maybe my understanding of the world isn't the end all and be all. Yeah, their message can be damaging when it's pushed on people who it doesn't help, but my faith could probably be damaging to someone who needs something stricter and more forceful."
"Could it be possible that the varying expressions of Christianity are all useful to some people in some situations?"
"Yeah, I think it could. Good talk self."
Ben Howard is an accidental iconoclast and generally curious individual living in Nashville, Tennessee. He is also the editor-in-chief of On Pop Theology and an avid fan of waving at strangers for no reason. You can follow him on Twitter @BenHoward87.
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