I wonder…

I wonder if faith and doubt are necessary companions…
the north and south poles of being truly human..
the holy tension that holds our life in balance?

—brian plachta



despite your doubt, what do you still believe?


  1. This is a challenging question! My first thought: The tension introduced by my personal doubts may create balance, but it’s often an intensely uncomfortable balance that I wish to avoid. While the question could appropriately be addressed theologically, my reflection grows more from experience and less from a sense of theological correctness.

    Doubt as I know it may best be expressed through Freud’s assertion that all religious experience and belief is merely an illusion, a projection of the individual or group’s unmet wants and needs. Essentially there is nothing out there! Our personal and group sense of the divine originates from within us, not from outside of ourselves, and is therefore an illusion. Comforting perhaps, but ultimately based on myth we create. This would be the orientation inherent in my training as a clinical social worker. It can seem very, very convincing.

    My experience of doubt regarding the reality of a Holy Other may intensify as I become aware of my ambivalent and careless following of the Christ. Understanding of my inner self can also feed experience of doubt – feelings of inadequacy, fear, and shame. It becomes obvious how such feelings can certainly be expressed within a need for acceptance – for embrace offered by a God whose name is Love. So I question: Is my intense search for this Holy Other simply a reflection of gaps in my personal development?

    These doubts may wax and wane depending on my state of mind, my emotional balance, or my sense of insecurity. Of course, personal experience with my environment and the news media’s constant bombardment with stories of religion and spirituality perverted for destructive ends further draw me into this hopeless space. Such doubt is my painful reality.

    Paradoxically, the other, more hopeful pole of this distressing tension arises from this same awareness of personal insufficiency and threat. However, viewed through a lens different from that of Freud (and much of our culture) – the lens of faith, I recognize in my longing, and this felt sense of inadequacy, weakness, or need, a convincing expression of the Holy Other’s insistent presence within, an invitation to let go of my need for mastery and to live well with practices that encourage those embers of God’s Life within me. These are impulses for healthy relationship, community, and personal integrity.

    Viewed through this faith-full lens I recognize Love’s desire for my companionship infused within, embedded in my longing. Then I am reassured. I experience my longing as Love’s dream for my union with this “Holy Other.”

    Paradoxically this same sense of insufficiency and longing for the “Something More” enables me to recognize that within “weakness” is a grace enabling me to seek and be found. And, I am at peace once again… for a time.

    • To seek and be found…I love that paradox of grace.


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