Kyle Cupp has a heartrending piece up at The Daily Beast in which he discusses the death of his daughter and his subsequent loss of faith:
In the months following the death of our newborn daughter, I had remained steadfast in my faith, devout and prayerful. I had not for years imagined God primarily as a figure of power, like some cosmic orchestrator of all that is, so I did not feel inclined to blame God for our loss and our sorrow. I didn’t have an answer for it, but I didn’t look to God for an answer. I didn’t expect such a response. I let God be.
As time passed, however, my faith weakened. I lost the feeling of God’s presence and the impetus to pray, and perhaps as a consequence, the ideas I had of God began to make less and less sense to me. I lost clarity of what I believed, finally confessing to my wife late one evening that I couldn’t honestly say whether or not I still believed in God. This was not a confession that brought us peace. A cloud of unknowing separated me from the words of the creed I recited at Mass, and on that evening, sitting close to the love of my life, staring into her misty eyes, I feared that it would separate me from her as well.
To make matters worse, I had no answers to give her. I couldn’t explain my lapse. I couldn’t point to any decisive event, something that had pushed me off the precipice. Instead, as we reflected back on the previous months and years, I felt as though once solid ground had changed into the wisps of a cloud without my having noticed, and only now did I realize that I was falling. If my broken heart was to blame, it has taken its bitter time, acting stealthily.
I hadn’t fallen into unbelief or atheism, exactly, but more of an agnosticism or skepticism about what I believed and whether I believed. I could no longer say what my faith, such as it was, meant in my life. I no longer had a sure sense of how the Christian story was true. I couldn’t answer where its myths ended and reality began. Occasionally I shot a few words of prayer in what I hoped was the direction of an unseen God, but I struggled and doubted even these simple practices of my faith. Neither Paul nor Kierkegaard were kidding when they wrote of fear and trembling. Continue reading
Kyle Cupp at The Week has an interesting post in which he celebrates Pope Francis for bringing uncertainty about God to Catholicism:
In fact, Pope Francis has explicitly endorsed doubt in the life of faith. In a 2013 interview published in America Magazine, the pontiff said that the space where one finds and meets God must include an area of uncertainty. For him, to say that you have met God with total certainty or that you have the answers to all questions is a sign that God is not with you. Be uncertain, he counsels. Let go of exaggerated doctrinal “security.” A devout faith must be an uncertain faith:
The risk in seeking and finding God in all things, then, is the willingness to explain too much, to say with human certainty and arrogance: “God is here.” We will find only a god that fits our measure. The correct attitude is that of St. Augustine: seek God to find him, and find God to keep searching for God forever.
The pope has taken a risk with all this, but not without reason. If God really is infinite and indescribable, as Catholicism and other religious traditions imagine, then an uncertain faith makes sense. At the end of the day, those who talk about God really do not know what they’re talking about. People refer to God with symbols and metaphors, stories and analogies, believing that these limited expressions disclose a limitless reality, but even if these expressions are true, they nonetheless differ infinitely from any infinite being. Undoubtedly, a lot gets lost in translation. Continue reading
by Joe Hargrave
Recently Kyle Cupp at Vox Nova (one of the good ones, he is) addressed the arguments of a Peter Sunderman at The American Scene regarding the validity of arguments against gay marriage. In brief, Sunderman doesn’t really believe there are any. Instead opposition to gay marriage, even his own, is motivated by a vague “intuition” that cannot find adequate manifestation in any rational argument. While Kyle unfortunately appears to agree with Sunderman, I do not.
Let us first be clear that the case for traditional marriage between one man and one woman is already more than amply made. As Kyle points out, gay marriage advocates such as Andrew Sullivan are willing to acknowledge all of the great and useful aspects of traditional marriage. What they maintain is that opponents of gay marriage have not demonstrated how its legal recognition will harm traditional marriage.
I have never been the greatest adherent of the notion that “the law instructs.” Oftentimes I believe laws merely reflect shifting economic and cultural trends, often playing catch-up after the fact. In the case of homosexual unions, however, any act that places them on the same level as traditional unions will necessarily send a message to everyone in society, including children, that it is a matter of indifference whether one marries a person of the same sex or of the opposite sex. And it must be mentioned here that in the face of declining Western birth rates, the case for traditional marriage is stronger than it has ever been. Contrary to overpopulation hysteria, which I suppose some will want to debate over, developed countries need more children, and they need them now. It is hard to see how the problem of declining birth rates will be addressed by a society that is indifferent to sexual behavior.
With that said, let us now make the easiest case against gay marriage.
This reduction occurs when we understand and act upon our moral obligations to one another only within the framework of a social contract–when we limit our obligations to those who have entered into such contracts and consider ourselves obligated only to those who share our citizenship, have signed a treaty we have signed, or participate with us in some other contractual arrangement. I make this reduction when I don’t care about torturing terrorists because they’re not signers of the Geneva Conventions, when I wish to alienate the immigrant who enters my country against my country’s laws, when I ignore my obligations to those not yet born because the laws of the land do not recognize their personhood, or when I insist that others shouldn’t be given Constitutional rights when the rights I wish to withhold from them are basic human rights.
I think that he’s right as far as he goes, but I don’t think that his point that basic human rights and duties are inherent to humanity (rather than assumed via some sort of contract/relationship) is actually the point usually at dispute in our society. Rather, what seems often to be disputed is what the extent of basic human rights are — and which “rights” are merely agreed civic rights which we grant explicitly via the social contract.