This morning I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts as Diesel and I ventured out on our morning walk. I love listening to Armchair Expert as Dax Shepherd and Monica Padman interview a wide range of guests on a broad range of subjects where I have deep fascination as well. Whether or not we have come to the same personal conclusions on our shared interests in addiction, religion, culture and politics, I love the thought provoking conversation and honest introspection that it encourages.
In the podcast I listened to today I was struck by its timely discussion of religion and culture. One of my hesitancies in entering the world of blogging has been that people would misunderstand my belief that people have the ability to hear God for themselves with the idea that I believe people have the right to do whatever they want. As I listened to the interview with religious academic Kate Bowler, she articulated what feels like a similar frustration with extreme black and white thinking.
As I navigated the grassy terrain of the path I was walking, I found myself rewinding again and again as I struggled to type out the words that so eloquently explained concepts I have struggled to articulate. Kate Bowler said roughly, “In this (untrue)cultural narrative of ‘everything is possible’ the opposite is also intolerable, and untrue, that ‘nothing is possible’. What we are trying to land on is a thicker cultural language for ‘limited agency’, in which there is a horizon that is possible, there is a ‘what is possible today-ness’ that is true’, but the wild oscillation between either fatalism or hyper-agency really does make us talk two entirely different languages at one another. It requires the courage and honesty to say that we have limited agency.”
These words resonated with my soul and the peace I have found in embracing the middle ground. I find my spirit at rest in the balanced tension that the results of my life depends on both the actions I take, and my willingness to surrender to the uncontrollable and often painful experiences that life tosses at me. Wandering too far off the center line tends to find me either drowning in the never ending craving for more in the pursuit of my own happiness, or the suicidal depression of hopelessness that my fate is fixed and I am doomed to destruction. For me, this balance has taken on the contextualization that I find in the Christian tradition. It is in language of my religion of origin where I find the words and lenses that help me effectively navigate my own life experience. For me, when I deny the principles that feel written in my soul I find myself wrestling with anxiety, depression and struggling to function in a world that seems purposeless without some narrative upon which I can find grounding and a launching point toward my goals. But my experience with God and religion has stopped being worried about what it might do for me by way of eternal destinations, earthly promises of health, riches or ease, and more about the personal connection I find in never being alone and having an advocate fighting with me and for me as I face the realities of life. It is in the being with my God and not in the fear of, or expectation of my God that I find my soul able to find peace and my sense of contentment being less disrupted by the uncontrollable waves of life. I no longer feel tossed around in the fierceness of the storms I cannot control, and feel anchored to a hope that can keep me afloat in the most challenging of circumstances. #armchairexpert #katebowler