Pointman hits the nail on the head.
I was born and raised Pentecostal, and thank God I’ve grown out of the fundamentalists aspects of it. I’m inherently a Wesleyan, at least as I know him and his work. Though, mostly, I’m committed to truth. Jesus took the title of truth. I follow Jesus, so absolute commitment to truth seems the absolute requirement. Truth above all. Not dogma, truth. Not man’s interpretation of scripture, truth. Not scripture, since one can set the Bible up as an idol. No idolatry, truth. Truth that can be worked over and found to remain true, over and over, and revised as necessary in order to maintain commitment to the highest possible truth.
I haven’t lost my faith. (Pointy hasn’t either, but he has abandoned all sense of religion. And honestly, I prefer Pointman’s brand of irreligion greatly over a couple like Katherine Hayhoe and Andrew Farley and their “church without religion.” I find Pointman a much better example of Christ and what Christianity is to be.) My faith, though, now rests in the goodness of God and not much else. Like Pointman says, if it is going to get fixed, it is up to us. I suspect if asked, Jesus would have affirmed that God helps those who help themselves, at least when they have internalized Micah 8:6 and Ecclesiastes 12:13, and Jesus’ oft repeated command to love one another.
As to losing faith in general, I have never actually seen it. Everyone has faith in the ultimate, in reason, in some sense of purpose. Most of all, we must retain our faith in love. The greatest of these, truly, is love. Without love, I am sound and fury, signifying nothing. Some people become cynical, but all retain a sense of the significance of love.
As to seeing God’s hand in life, well, that is kinda the point. He that comes to God must believe. You cannot figure it until you believe it. It requires the leap first, the leap of faith. I don’t disagree with Pointman regarding his not having that-something for the leap. I’m not the judge, and I don’t know.
Honest people trust in goodness and truth, even though they know they will sometimes be disappointed, sometimes even fatally so. That is life. There is a poem by Robert Browning Hamilton about how sorrow teaches us, Barry McGuire recorded a version on the To the Bride album. This link is to a poor recording of a live performance. YouTube doesn’t seem to have a better rendering. (Spotify does.)
As Pointy points out, “life is a simple but roughty toughty business.”
As to intellectual reasons, well, it is irrefutable that most of the greatest minds of all of history have retained faith. Of course, majority and consensus just don’t hold water as arguments. Despite being in good company, if the ship is going down, all drown. It is, absolutely, a matter of personal belief. Each must follow his own heart. That is the essence of liberty, freedom.
Here is my touchstone: on that day, the books will be balanced. The scores will be settled. Justice will be fully satisfied, but so will Mercy. All will stand, one on one, face to face and answer. Each will know. All will affirm justice with mercy was done. Our religious notions, no matter how deep or shallow, just don’t matter in this context. It is where we are going, and we will know that the outcome was just and merciful. Mother Teresa was right to assert that Love is the key. From memory, she said God will not ask what you did, but whether what you did, you did in love. Trust in God. Act in love. I think the key is do you insist on living for self, or do you strive for something more, something as far above self as the heavens are above the earth.
C.S. Lewis addressed that face-to-face factor:
“When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the center of your soul for years, which you have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you’ll not talk about the joy of words. I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?”
― C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces
Our road here is short, but it is essential. Make the most of it.
I’ve found more of my theology in the underpinnings of fiction than in theological works, especially the fiction of C.S. Lewis. I’ll mention Madeleine L’Engle as well.
Back to Pointy’s article, I just gotta repeat this: “give my fippence worth of opinion on the head honcho in the poncho’s cycling piece.” Beauty.
I’ve been so busy reading how people are reacting to the encyclical, that I still haven’t read it, but I think it is safe to use the word “anodyne” as a descriptor. Well, good, but sometimes offense is necessary. Even Jesus knew that.
Pointman knows too, and he spares no punch in his next few lines. I’d like to disagree, but he’s too close to define the miss.
Regarding responses to the encyclical, spot on!
To Pointman’s closing comments, I can only say the amen. Amen, brother, amen!