We are often subtly encouraged to reduce our theologies to a handy label….These labels do tell us something. Even though our understanding of each of them may differ, they draw minimal descriptive lines within which we see ourselves and with which others in our tradition may partially identify. —Paul Rasor, Faith without Certainty
I have a love-hate relationship with language. I love the process of hearing, seeing or feeling a thought within me and then finding the exact words I need to express that thought. It’s like the satisfying feeling of an image coming into focus through a camera lens.
And yet I hate that, usually when it matters most, words fall short. I reach for the word and almost have it. “It’s …. no, that’s not it.” The camera whirs and clicks, and cannot focus.
I don’t believe in God (at least, not in the usual range of meanings people ascribe to the word “God”).
That would make me an atheist (except that for me the word “atheist” has a flavor I don’t care for).
I could try non-theist (but I don’t like defining myself by what I’m not).
I really do like agnostic (though it does have wishy-washy connotations).
As I read the words of Paul Rasor quoted above, I saw an image in my mind of shapes formed by what he calls “minimal descriptive lines.” There were circles and squares, ovals, rectangles and hexagons. And I realized that for me, I always want a door in my shapes. It’s part of what I like about the word “agnostic.”
Within Unitarian Universalism, as the Rev. Christine Robinson has written, “agnosticism of various stripes is our default theology.”
I really like that about us. I like that when we draw the shapes of our beliefs, we don’t close the circle or complete the square. We leave generous openings for doubt, for uncertainty, for admitting that we don’t know everything.
And yesterday’s conversations with Henkimaa helped me to see that leaving doors in our theological labels has a purpose. It’s not just that it’s more comfortable for me to leave room for doubt. Doors allow us to invite others into our experience, and they allow us to walk out of our labels into the experiences of others. Without doors, I am trapped in my circle, you are trapped in your square, and we cannot know each other.