"True faith can only grow and mature if it includes the elements of paradox and creative doubt," says Anglican priest Kenneth Leech in True God. Paradox and creative doubt - it is so nice to know that other seekers find their spiritual path littered with these nettlesome thoughts. True faith cannot be blind or unquestioning, or it wouldn’t be true to the inquisitiveness of the human spirit. True faith must be fired in the oven of critical thinking, vexing emotions and life experiences. Only by those means does a faith gain strength.
Creative doubt - I love that term because it is so positive. If you allow your doubt to become creative, it is not destructive, it is constructive. Or, it destroys in order to build something beautiful and vibrant.
One of my friends experiences the concept of creative doubt as two voices, embodied by the image of a positive person on her left shoulder (the "white knight" in my parlance) and the image of a negative person on her right shoulder (the "black knight"), both whispering in her ears. As soon as I heard her explanation, my thoughts went back to a time when a counselor encouraged me to explore those two voices in me. I could relate totally. Here is what creative doubt about my spiritual path, as embodied by the black knight and the white knight, might whisper in my ears:
|Black knight says:||White knight says:|
|"This spirituality stuff is stupid."||"This spirituality stuff is fun!"|
|"I can’t swallow this."||"I can swallow this whole - all of it."|
|"The Holy One is absent in my life. Where is God when I am in need?"||"Oh Holy One, I can feel your presence."|
|"You are silly for thinking God is active in your life."||"I know with every fiber of my being that God
is active in my life."
|"I am not worthy of knowing the Divine."||"I am brilliant beyond measure and can sense
the Divine’s messages to me."
So, what do we do with creative doubt? We examine the black knight’s thoughts to reveal some truth about our faith, to help us refine our thoughts and approach, and to help us understand how others less sure-footed on their path might feel. We thank the black knight and tell it, "Thank you for your opinions. I have gotten as much benefit from them as possible. Now go home, you are no longer welcome here." Then we shine a bright light on the expressions of the white knight. We turn to the white knight and invite it into our home - to linger for a glass of wine, a good meal and long conversation.
How do you experience creative doubt?