Q & R: How do I put the pieces back together again?
Here's the Q:
I have read a handful of Brian's books and found they have helped me look at my faith in a new way. They have caused me to disassemble my childhood faith and really look at why I believe what I believe. My question is, after disassembling my faith, which I think has been a good thing, how do I put the pieces back together again? It's as if I've lost the forest for the trees.
Here's the R:
Thanks for this important question. Without a good answer, a lot of folks go from a dysfunctional faith to a disintegrated or disappearing faith.
One of the major discoveries of my life (which shouldn't have taken so long, given that I was an English major and focused my studies on the power of fiction) was this: that we human beings live, not by systems or "world views" or philosophies alone, but by stories. Stories are often treated as accessories or "illustrations" to abstract systems, but the truth is, I believe, that doctrinal systems and world views and philosophies are creative projects that arise within stories … stories which are often so primal and "pre-critical" that they are not even recognized.
Personal therapy often means discovering the unhelpful and unacknowledged stories that are controlling our lives. I think spiritual growth involves something very similar.
That's why "the forest," I think, is a fresh healing and transforming narrative … one that I believe is rooted in the Scriptures, but differs in many ways from the narrative many of us were taught. I first grappled with this need for a fresh narrative in my book The Story We Find Ourselves In. It's the first question addressed in my New Kind of Christianity. I address it again in Why Did Jesus? And it's at the heart of my 2014 release We Make the Road by Walking.
A narrative is like the string on which all the pearls of beliefs, ethical commitments, values, etc., hang … it's the forest in which the trees thrive. So … my prayer for you and for so many of us is that we seek a better, more capacious, more true and liberating narrative to live by.