Finding faith news yourself: 7-1-14
A waste or an inspiration? 7-3-14

The necessity of doubt: 7-2-14


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- On our last morning here after the annual conference of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, my bride and I hit some of the museum sites, including the Hirshorn.

One of the exhibits there especially spoke to me. It's by artist Barbara Kruger and it raises questions about what belief is and whether it is worthy of humanity, especially religious belief.

In one of the quotes installed on a wall, Kruger says this:

"Belief is tricky because left to its own devices it can court a kind of surety, an unquestioning allegiance that fears doubt and destroys difference."


A famous question that the recently deceased Sen. Howard Baker became famous for in the Watergate scandal was "What did the president know and when did he know it?" A similar question might be asked of all people -- not just people of faith (but especially them): "What do the people believe and why do they believe it?"

This kind of question gives voice to something that is necessary for true faith -- doubt. If we haven't struggled with doubt we probably haven't acquired what I might call a mature faith, one that can stand the strains of crisis.

My friend Richard Prince, who was one of the speakers at our NSNC conference, did this interview a few years ago with Kruger about a previous art project that had to do with photographs. In it she expresses some thoughts that are quite in harmony with the trust of this new Belief-Doubt exhibit.

Doubt is not the enemy of faith but its friend. The enemy of faith is false certitude. Kruger seems to get that.

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When the U.S. Supreme Court rules on cases having to do with religion (as in this week's Hobby Lobby decision), what role does the religion of the justices play? It's hard to answer that, but it's easy to see that the current court is not representative of the broad sweep of religion in America. Rather, it is made up of six Catholics and three Jews. I'm not advocating any sort of religious test for picking justices but somehow a court made up of all or nearly all Protestants (which once was the case) or all or nearly all some other tradition causes the general population to wonder whether such a court can give a fair hearing to matters that touch on religion.


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