Over at the Atheist channel, Bob Seidensticker is experimenting with prayer, in a (to me) closed and complicated way. He has no expectations, doesn’t especially want faith, but has decided to participate in an experiment.
Leah Libresco, the brilliant little Yalie who also used to blog in the Atheist channel before she reasoned her way into faith (which happens more than many realize), has taken an interest in Seidensticker’s adventure, and today she offers some creative and helpful advice for him:
It’s hard to get much out of something you can’t approach with sincerity. It’s not helpful to pretend you believe something you don’t believe, but it’s also not that helpful to just go through the motions of a religious ritual if you’re heart’s not in it. So I started trying to think about what, if anything, Bob or anyone else could do honestly. And I think the key is curiosity. [. . .] Imagine Christianity (or whatever religion you’re thinking about) is a theological system in a work of fiction and you’re planning to LARP in that setting.
How would you live in that world? If God did exist, what would follow? What would be the worst knock on effect? What would be the best? What would you start or stop doing? What new constraints or freedoms would you operate under?
The stakes are low, you’re just role-playing. But now you’re in a position to think curiously. You’re not having a debate (with all the defensiveness that triggers), you’re getting to build something! You’re free to tweak and experiment to try to figure out the mechanics of this fictional world.
Read the whole thing — a really creative and inventive idea, Leah is throwing out Bob’s way.
I’ve been saying that willingness is key to everything — a broadening, not a narrowing of attitude. I’ll never forget Dorothy Day’s description of how she suddenly came to faith. She had just given birth to her daughter and was so overwhelmed with the gift before her — and she understood this baby as a true gift — that she needed to be able to express her thanks. Her entire outlook broadened in that moment. She became willing.
Speaking of Dorothy Day, this is a great piece about her over at First Things. I highly recommend both Leah’s piece and the FT piece for your reading, today.