Tuesday, December 12, 2017

#SOL17: Wonder that Leads to Praise

House by the Tracks (M.A. Reilly)


The most devout person I have known was my mom, Catherine Reilly. Her faith revealed itself in her day-to-day living, in the kind acts she did quietly, in the way her study of St. Paul's letters informed her decisions, in her generosity. She was a woman filled with wonder and more. It wasn't until I was listening to an interview between Krista Tippett and Mary Catherine Bateson that I better understood the relationship between wonder and faith. Bateson was discussing the intersection among Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and said this:
"And what struck me is that what — actually, all three of the religions that come from Abraham: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam — that what we all have in common is the sense of wonder that leads to praise" (from here).

A sense of wonder that leads to praise.

It was not wonder alone, but rather wonder that led to praise that better fit my memory of my mom.  So certain of God's love, she showed my brothers and me the many ways to hear one's conscience.  Years later, these daily lesson lived, more than taught, remain with me the most.


I woke up thinking about this sense of conscience-listening this morning. I wondered how the many people today who will cast a vote for Roy Moore will do so. What role does one's conscience play in how decisions are made and broken?  How is deep religious faith balanced with the desire for expedient outcomes?  The president has told the voters of Alabama that he needs a senate seat to make America great again.  He told them, “The people of Alabama will do the right thing...Roy Moore will always vote with us. VOTE ROY MOORE!”  His sole argument for Moor is that he will vote for "us" and us is a narrow group.

A devil's bargain that.

I was raised Roman Catholic and surely at the liberal end of that continuum and so it may not be so surprising that the white Evangelical movement as displayed these last few decades has confounded me.  White evangelicals gave us Trump and perhaps by the end of the day they will give us another predator, Roy Moore. It seems antithetical to all things holy to support  men who fail to engender a sense of wonder that leads to praise, unless the praise is about themselves. Where is God in such displays? How do these self-defined religious people square their choice with their faith? How do you look a pedophile, like Moore, in the eye and vote yes?

I don't buy the argument that because Moore has not undergone a trial voters ought not to consider the vile crimes that the women who have spoken out against him have claimed.  That many were minors should concern all. That argument is weak and frankly, if the man in question was someone else--say a Democrat--would they be so hesitant to believe the accusers?  Just look at pizzagate when many of the same people believed that Hillary Clinton was running a child pornography ring out of the basement of pizzerias. Such idiocy is still believed.

I'm curious how you reconcile yourself to all of this. What's your understanding?


  1. Mary Ann, I was raised in an Evangelical church and, I have to say, "faith" was bantered about quite often yet "wonder", not so much. Faith, as I remembered it, was an action that was required of Christians in order to blindly accept and follow the teachings of the church (which, by all accounts, was touted as Biblical teachings). But, here's the thing...asking questions, being curious, challenging, exploring other(s) perspectives...these were not encouraged. Blind faith was the calling (although never referred to it in that way). It wasn't until a course in Hermeneutics (ironically at a Bible college) that I was invited to ask questions, to explore for meaning, and to understand underlying context.

    The people (and, mostly, evangelicals) who vote for a man who is a proven pedophile do so because they've been taught to blindly follow the church's teachings. It's not a far throw, frankly, from other religions who brainwash congregants to blindly accept, follow, and drink the teachings that fall far from human kindness, grace, and love.

    I pray for a day of reckoning; I hope for a time of decency and kindness; I wonder if those days will ever come.

    1. I imagine it must be challenging when your faith has been co-opted by those willing to sell out the fundamentals in order to control power. For isn’t power so often the main motivation for such outrageous behavior?

      I recall reading about your history in your dissertation, Renee and thinking then how fortunate you were to seek dialogue through your studies.

  2. What a beautiful expression - "A sense of wonder that leads to praise." You have given me so much to think about.

    1. Maureen, would love to know more about how and what you are thinking.

  3. Renee and I might have much in common as I, too, grew up in a fundamentalist evangelical home and graduated from a Southern Baptist U, but it is there that I learned to think, learned to see the bible as a wondrous work of literature, learned to question. I remember mouthing off to a newly appointed deacon in my church when I was a teen, a college freshman I think; this man was a smoker, and his habit did not reconcile with my notions of deacon-like character traits. I'd been raised to be a "fruit inspector." That's what our association evangelist preached about each time he visited our church--Matthew 7: 16, "Ye shall know them by their fruits." We were extolled not to judge but to examine the fruit borne by others. That's what I do w/ politicians, too. Roy Moore and Donald Trump bear evil fruit: "But a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit." (v 17) I don't have an answer to the question of how supporters of Trump and Moore reconcile their choices w/ Biblical teachings, especially on moral and ethical grounds. They and their supporters have been given over to their own depravity to do evil. That's the only response that makes sense to me.

    1. When I read your response, Renee’s and Maureen’s response it helped me to clarify how difficult it is when people with great faith are confronted with rhetoric and acts from those they share the faith with who seem to have borne ‘evil’ fruit. I think this is what got me started. I thought about my mom and how she lived and the hypocrisy of so many who ignore the fundamental tenets of their religion in favor of blindly following and/or amassing power.


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