Struggle to Keep Believing…

July 17, 2008

Just back from our first Harry Potter conference – Portus 2008 – I have all things Harry Potter on the brain.  (Okay, to be honest, I’m a bit of an obsessive fan who always has Harry Potter on the brain.  Why else would I go to an HP conference?!)  Nonetheless, my thoughts were wonderfully stirred at this conference.

There is a lot of talk in the Christian world about the validity of reading JK Rowling, and a lot of ridiculous criticism that the books encourage witchcraft and satanic activity.  There is much evidence to the contrary, that in fact, JK Rowling embodies in her work solid Christian themes.  In speaking about what she called “the religious undertones” to the story, she admitted, “My struggle is to keep believing.”  Some Christian critics have pointed to this statement triumphantly, as proof that Rowling is not a sincere believer.  I, however, think she is an honest believer.  I share this struggle to keep believing at times.

I have just re-read Lauren Winner’s spiritual memoir, _Girl Meets God_.  It is an excellent book, honest and informative and funny.  She understands this struggle to keep believing.

Living the Christian life…is about a promise to believe even when you don’t.  After all, when I stand up in church to say the Creed, it may well be that that very morning I didn’t really know for sure that some fifteen-year-old-virgin got pregnant with a baby who was really God.  Saying the Creed is like vowing to love your bride forever and ever.  That vow is not a promise to feel goopy and smitten every morning for the rest of your life.  It is a promise to live love, even, especially, when you don’t feel anything other than annoyance and disdain (269).

I can relate to this.  The marriage analogy rings true – twelve years into my marriage and I’m still crazy in love with my husband, but every day does not feel euphoric, and there are times when “annoyance and disdain” aptly describe the miserable state of my heart.

This talk of saying the Creed in church invokes a sort of nostalgia and longing in me as well, for I, too, know the value of the liturgy for restoring and reaffirming one’s faith.   We are evangelicals who became Episcopalians for a few years, but are back in our non-denominational church for a number of reasons. I miss saying the Creed.  I miss the repetitive prayers that are so solidly Scriptural.  I miss the communal nature of intoning those prayers and Creeds with my fellow pew-dwellers.

It is comforting to know that this struggle to keep believing is shared by two writers I admire.  And it is fun to be using my mind to connect the dots in literature to some real-life issues.

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4 Responses to “Struggle to Keep Believing…”

  1. Ron said

    Thank you for reminding me that I’m not the only who struggles to keep believing.

  2. Lilly said

    To bad that all that was missed out by Christian critics all around who do more criticizing then discussing or learning.
    There were some other things I got out the books as well and I didn’t get to go to the conference to see if anyone shares the same thoughts.
    One thing in particular was that need for family or better still in HP’s case a supportive family (Weasleys) and intimate family relationships (GW). And I might be a little nerdy for saying this but the last four to five chapters of book seven urged me more then ever to have kids even more then what I wanted before. Some people I know that have kids and don’t seem happy but there are still others that are inspired by their kids. I owe it to JK Rowling who, in four or five chapters, showed me the difference between wanting and the needing of children.

  3. Here’s the thing about the liturgical worship service that trumps the more low-church, free-church “styles” (I hate using that word for it, but there it is): If we are all Christians who struggle to believe – and I think we are – then seeing the worship service as covenant renewal is hugely important. Each week is a reaffirmation of our belief in the faith once delivered and believed upon by all Christians in all places at all times.

    When that gets replaced by “What’s the pastor gonna do next?” or “I wonder if we’ll sing any good songs this week,” our faith continues to falter and is not weekly strengthened – regardless of what happened that week.

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