This is my continuing "review" of Peter Rollins' book Insurrection, although I'm really writing with a mixture of review, summation, and personal reflection. In short, these writings are more a way for myself to work through what this all means, rather than a "review" per say, or my trying to convince anyone else of these ideas. Additionally, please note that my beliefs expressed here may not necessarily coincide perfectly with Rollins'. View the first installment here and the second here.In reading chapters 3 and 4 of Peter Rollins' Insurrection, I feel like I'm finally getting to what might be considered a thesis statement for the first half of this book, entitled Part 1: Crucifixion:
"It is possible for people to believe there is an ultimate meaning in the universe without being religious at all--that is, people do not use this belief in order to avoid a full confrontation with their humanity. It is a belief that they can calmly discuss over a drink and which they are happy to rethink. Such people have a reasoned and healthy belief that does not need to be passionately defended against those who disagree." (pp.61-62, emphasis added.)
In an attempt to describe the means by which this thesis was arrived (whereby I wrote in the margins of my copy, "THE POINT!"), I have written an internal monologue that could be used to describe the ironic methods by which many Christians today arrive at a place of "rejecting religion":
"I'm not religious, I just follow God, which offers me the psychological benefits of religion while still allowing me to play the part of rejecting religion. I intellectually affirm the crucifixion, but I don't want to bear the wounds that it leaves. My relationship with God takes the place of my honest confrontation of life.That's the funny thing about the essence of religion. It's seemingly unavoidable. It's a "psychological phenomenon" (p. 61). Religion is not, and never has been, and never will be, on the decline. It's just doing what it always has done: Taking on a new shape to make it harder to identify, akin to a flu virus.
"I intellectually affirm Christ's forsakenness on the Cross, but I still want sermons that give me answers, songs that give me peace-of-mind, and prayers that tell me it's all going to be OK. That certainty is more important to me than the possibility that that universe might be random and there's not a goddamn thing I can do about it. Even though I say God is not a cosmic vending machine of peace and love and happiness, I want the church to treat God like a machine so that I can use it as a security blanket, allowing me to accept the circumstances that should beget suffering instead of allowing those circumstance to cause me to suffer.
"I affirm doubt and uncertainty as a part of faith... So long as I know with absolute certainty that God is bigger than my doubts. Then I can doubt with absolute certainty."
So what's the point of it all then? Why go to church? Why be a Christian? Is it even possible for these things to be good, or at least honest?
Yes, I believe it is. The essence of Christianity is in the experience of suffering. The essence of religion is the avoidance of suffering.
If it's all about experience, then are beliefs futile? No, as long as they are not a crutch to prevent embracing the world (suffering), and as long as they are not a security blanket (a structure of certainty).
Christ affirmed his belief in God. But he also experienced the loss of his belief's comforting power.