Prior to the above quote, Plotkin writes,
An adolescent or first adulthood identity is primarily focused upon social standing, psychological security, interpersonal and physical comfort, wealth, fame, and/or the sort of personal power that is power over rather than power with. A soul-rooted identity, in contrast, is primarily focused on the discovery of and joyous offering of the gift of soul to the world. (Plotkin, Soulcraft, p. 86)
I suspect that most people who have lost faith in faith, or who have perhaps rejected spirituality altogether, have come to believe that adolescent religion is all there is. In fact, given the state of religious education in most congregations, they may well have not heard of anything deeper. It is my observation that many come to believe what they have been offered as the real deal is actually a very adolescent version, with goals no larger than small self comfort.
So, drawing from the imagery of a popular game show:
Door Number 1: Faith in a God who takes care of me and mine.
Door Number 2: No Faith
Door Number 3: What? There’s a door number 3?
I’m thinking about a friend who has been trying to cope with the tragic death of a loved one. She often returns to how her church taught her that if she lived a righteous life, then God would protect her and those she loved. Here’s something she wrote to me (shared with her permission):
Wes, So God’s love does not include any sort of protection? It is just a crap shoot. It is the luck of the draw. It is who is lucky and who not. That makes no sense to me. How can a God, the God who created everything, not provide protection for those who ask for it? I just don’t get it. Even though we, and others, prayed for God’s protection he is not obligated to grant it. That sucks!!!!!! So some get it and some do not. That really makes me angry. Some are luckier than others. Some families never lose anyone and some do. That is crap.
How could anyone blame her for her anger and her stuck-ness? Well-meaning Sunday School teachers and pastors raised her to believe in a god of protection and comfort. Rather than being offered resources for dealing with the inevitable pain of life in a broken world, she was sent into battle with a pop-gun and told to keep smiling.
Perhaps your struggles with faith are not connected to life’s wreckage, but if they are, I’d appreciate your response to this question:
Who, if anyone, has ever told you about “door number 3?”