Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Pragmatic Faith

I have been wondering, in recent times, why I am something of a square peg in a round hole. The hole that I describe is that of Christian Faith, the spiritual life in Christ. I wonder sometimes, if me and it are entirely comfortable in their fit. 

I read Lesley's Blog from time to time, and I often come away wondering why I am so vexed. It isn't her fault; what she writes is good and varied and appropriate. Her post this morning epitomised this, writing as she did on the issue of guilt. In the nicest possible way, I read it and felt myself wanting to yell 'get a bloody grip woman'! 

I am a pragmatist by style and learning, and it is this that is at fault, if blame were to be apportioned. I am the quintessential 'doer', and every measure of my personality indicates that I am a 'suck it and see kind of guy'. If I am not sure what will work, I will try it out. I used to pull electronics to pieces to learn how they work. A book would have bored me and a lecture even more so. Give me a radio to break and I will learn how to fix it. Same with bikes, same with cooking; I cannot cook to a recipe, instead I need to just think something up. 

Lesley's Blog is written by a woman who is not a pragmatist, more a theorist I think. She wants to work out the 'why' all the while I am focussed on the 'how'. Her Blog this morning talked of the burden of guilt - and my first reply was  'so stop feeling bloody guilty then'! I wonder if that means my heart is not so pastoral.

So the thing is this; faith is in many ways the antithesis of pragmatism if dealt with at the spiritual level. Priesthood is the 'doing' of faith for me - but the pondering and reflecting, the Christian appetite for self-flaggelation, the waffle - all those things are difficult for me to grasp and understand. Maybe that is why I take to a more ritual style of worship with sensory elements? This is a paradox that doesn't sit so easily with me, as I regard myself as outside of that inner-circle of the jolly holy pious and good folk who go to church. I am too much an activist, too much a pragmatist, too little a theorist or reflector - and then add to that a whacking dose of extraversion in a world where introversion is the common denominator in so many areas of religious life, and you see where I feel I have a problem.

Anyway - I will stop there. In the end I will be discovered as the fraud that I am - that God calls peaceful and prayerful people, good and willing to be better - not those of us for whom a sermon is a frustration and prayer difficult. 


  1. For someone who claims that self-flagellation is not his style, your latest post is pretty good proof that you 'know not of what you speak/write.

    Do not beat yourself up about your approach-it works- and if it didn't there would always be plenty of people to do the beating for you.
    Nil desperandum!

  2. Well, see, God seems to have made us all different ("I'm not!" did I hear someone say?). And thank God, too, I say. Some of us (like myself and (maybe) Lesley) are theorist/reflectors. However, it does us no favours if the church simply becomes a club for those with closely matching personality types and learning styles. So we need folks like you to balance us up a bit. Jesus seems to have been quite an activist, by all acoounts.

  3. "a sermon is a frustration." Presumably you mean the preparation rather than the delivery? Maybe you should try a different preparation routine? Perhaps even something similar to the way in which you knock out your blog posts.
    I second the previous two commenters in turning your own words back on yourself - get a grip, stop fussing over the theoretical, and get on with being yourself.

  4. Well... what can I say!
    - If it is any consolation I too feel like a square peg in a round hole and regularly think about quitting.
    - I seem to remember, after a Chapter meeting, having lunch with you when I spent the entire meal crying in my wine and you were wonderfully pastorally supportive, so don't give me the 'I'm not pastoral' bollocks.
    - I am an activist and a pragmatist as well as a theorist and I too took everything in the house apart with a screwdriver.
    - We all feel intimidated by others not seeing the gifts we have. I envy that you are so angst free, and it isn't as if you haven't had your share of crap in life

  5. Hmmm

    Thanks to you all. Annoyingly, I succumbed to self pity in a post that was intended at the outset to be a 'I'm different and I can handle it' thing.

    I 'eavedropped' a Tweet earlier that aired a distate for my differences, and I shall have to digest that. Can't please everyone ...

    What I think I meant to say was, I am am what I am; I might be unconventional but I can't be anyone else. I am built the way I am to see the world how I see it, and I can only be authentic in my own skin.

    My assumptions about Lesley were wrong, and I regret that, so 'sorry mate'. For the rest of you, me and her are firm and close friends, and all that is said is undergirded in a love of one friend for another. Lesley - thanks for causing me to think about God's will for me. Bless you very much indeed!

  6. A recent three days of pragmatic activity have contributed more to me pastorally speaking than I have received in many a long year. Thank you. The two things are not mutually exclusive, so don't knock it! For all the theorising, sooner or later, someone has to stand up and DO something in order to get us out of the caves.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...