Monday, April 18, 2011

The Faithful vs. the Reasonable

I've been wanting to blog on this for months now. And this will NOT even graze the issue, but I want to address it anyway.

Here in Salt Lake City, the religious vs. non-religious dichotomy is numbing. The religious culture and the anti/non religious cultures are the two predominant cultures here in the city. One is a backlash from the other. In Kaysville (where we lived our first year here), we lived in a town that was highly Mormon. I never even saw a different culture besides the religious, except that I felt that I didn't belong.

Here is how the two predominant cultures seem to view each other:
There are "religious" people (Mormons) who are seen by most as boring and judgmental and only care about money, trends, procreation, and each other. On the other end of the spectrum, there are the environmentalists - those who perceived as staunch atheists, a backlash from the Mormon culture who care only for parties, green living, and social reform. One group is "Faith" the other, "Reason", and there is no overlap without compromise and lack of devotion.

I am personally very committed to both faith and to reason and can not understand or achieve one without the other (not the "Faith" and "Reason" categories mentioned above, but actual faith and reason). I don't understand how the majority of the people here will pursue faith and reject reason or pursue reason without any compulsion to believe.

At work, a coworker and I were talking. She asked me about my cross-cultural experience. I told her I was a missionary. "But you have a nose ring," she said. "Are you still religious?" I explained to her that I was not on a Mormon mission. I told her that I believe in evolution, environmental stewardship, and a loving Christian God. "So in other words," she said, "you believe in a God with intelligence?" I was so surprised that my version of belief was so far-fetched to her.

Is it really impossible for people to see that there is the possibility of a Creator who loves us and whose glory is revealed in his unique and diverse creation of which we are made stewards? That he is the same in his love and forgiveness as he is in his power and justice? Is it too impossible to believe in a supreme deity that wants us to ask questions always, arriving at a true belief - one that is not blind or coerced? I do not believe in "blind faith". Our God is so real, that knowledge of him can be achieved with eyes wide open, with deep prodding questions. 

Neither "Faith" nor "Reason" should be clung to blindly in retaliation of the other.


kris said...

That's funny, cause Mormons believe in an intelligent God too. :) And we believe that praying and asking questions is how we receive answers. If no one ever asked questions, how would we learn more?

doons said...

Kris - no, it's not funny. But I think you're confused. Hannah did not say that Mormons do not believe in an intelligent God. The post describes how non-Mormons in Utah (particularly ex-Mormons)characterize "religious" people (and by "religious" they mean "Mormon"), and vice versa.

Go reread the Paragraph that begins "At work..." You will see that the (lack of) intelligence claim is made by the non-religious person in the dialogue (who happens to be an ex-Mormon). Her picture of Mormon theology is very bleak; the point is that a similar sort of view is widespread in Utah among non-Mormons (especially the ex-Mormons)and that this fact is strange.

That is why when 'real' faith and reason are mentioned in the post, they refer to something different from the view just characterized in the story.

Do you see now?

Lindsey said...

I like this post a clearly lays out the dichotomy. Ya'll are such a minority there!!!!

dstoke said...

It is sad how people can live so close to one another and yet become so hardened and even vicious in their language toward one another. It takes empathy and both sides can be lacking in that at times. With the Mormons in the majority in Utah I do see it as their responsibility to even extra understanding. Generally I think they are trying to be kind and the rest is social psychology.

Anna said...

Such an interesting post, Hannah. And a very concise yet sad explanation as to what's going on out there.