From ‘The God Delusion’ Greenbelt 2007. By Stephen Caswell.
Here I am unravelling!
It began with a doubt. A tickling thread, an element itching. Not much, but at the time I wanted it gone; I prayed for it to disappear.
Unravelling. Some early questions coming out of the fray: How can I claim to know God? How can I comfortably address Infinite-God in prayer? What is my faith made of?
This doubt was mocking me: ‘You live your family inheritance! You’ve invested so much you can’t let it go! Your identity is tied up in Christendom – pull this thread and you will be nothing!’ Mocking little, dangling thread of doubt.
The thread. I couldn’t ignore the itch. Should I snip it off and pretend it never existed? Or should I pull it and examine my reasons for belief?
I decided I would pull it until it stopped. My faith would find its form and still keep me warm. It would stand up to the test. I would tug this thread and come out stronger.
I came out weaker.
Every question led to another. Each answer was teased apart showing its own presuppositions. Every new experience I was open to, and every stranger I met, pulled at the thread. I was unravelling, and I was unravelling fast. What would be left?!
Filled with doubt! Filled with failure! Filled with uncertainty!
That’s how it started, this unravelling.
But unravelling and ravelling, I was both. They mean the same thing. I started to see that unravelling didn’t need the negative appendage, the un- prefix. As if unravelling were to be avoided, to be considered the ruin of my belief, as if this dissection indicated the death of my faith.
My Christ-encounter had become meshed in interpretation, and tangled in my inheritance (church, theology, psychology, politics). My ‘becoming-Christ’ had become ‘Christian’ (in all its woollen glory). But rather than unravelling these threads to expose an embarrassed belief, this ravelling disentangles the web of confusing adornments and décor to make room for the next encounter.
Ravelling. Disentangling, not collapsing. My faith didn’t unravel, it ravelled. They mean the same thing. I learned to revel in ravelling. The questions proclaim more than the answers. The searching confirms that there has been revelation. The hunt for an unattainable treasure confirms that we have found it. Tearing apart what I love is evidence that I love it.
Forever doubting! Forever failing! Forever uncertain!
I am ravelling.