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Faith and Doubt: Reality vs. “Happy” Theology

Posted on : 06-07-2011 | By : Andy | In : music, religion

Tags: , , , ,

1

When you’re a kid, you learn a lot of songs in Sunday School. I’m thinking of classics such as “Grin again Gang,” which for some reason was stuck in my head today. If you’re not familiar with it, here’s how it goes:

Grin again gang get gung ho about Jesus (Shoo-be-dooby-doo)
Smile sweetly Sally so you send Satan sadly away
Buck up brother Bill because a bunch of bitter boys became a bunch of better boys beneath a big big smile
Grin again gang get gung ho about Jesus

Again–it was stuck in my head today, 20-some years after I learned it, and I got to thinking…is this helpful, or shoddy theology that needs to be “undone” later on in life? My problem is that the underlying idea ties together happiness (as opposed to joy) with being a Christian. Smiling sends satan sadly away? For real? Bitter boys become better when they smile?

At some time, “real life” hits. You lose your job, or a loved one. You get sick or someone betrays you. Will smiling fix it? The reality of the matter is that being a believer doesn’t mean life becomes all roses, and just smiling doesn’t make you a better person (and certainly doesn’t send satan away!) If you live your life according to grin-again-gang theology, you’re going to have a significant crisis when life just gets ugly, and it will: we live in a fallen world.

It’s for this reason that I absolutely LOVE Faith and Doubt, a song that fits life a little better when things are tough. If you haven’t heard Aaron Espe before and you have even a tolerance for Folk music, you’ve got to check it out. It’s spoken to me countless times before, including some of those long days, weeks, months (and daresay I years?) in seminary. It lives on this side of reality. It reminds me of lament Psalms. It’s awesome during tough moments:

———–

I read that Jesus walked the stormy sea and he pulled Peter up
Said, Man you gotta believe me
And he shared with his disciples
Said, Here’s how to be free
If you asked me I’d say most days
I totally agree
But right now I can’t pray, I don’t feel like talking to God
I need somebody out there with a little skin on them

When I read that story I heard thunder everywhere
I could feel that boat crashing on the waves
The bow is in the air
And I have respect for Peter who had faith enough to dare
Step out onto the water
While all the others stared
And when hell is on your back,
Sometimes you think you got strength and you say,
Hey Lord, save me, I’m drownin’ out here!

But I’m caught somewhere between Faith and Doubt
And I feel like I’ll never find my way outta here.

Last night I felt free just like I was a kid
So I laid in the grass and thought of all the things I did
When I didn’t know of pressure it was easy to forgive
You didn’t have to be perfect
Not in my neighborhood
I don’t know what year things became so unclear
but I’m still here

caught somewhere between Faith and Doubt
And I feel like I’ll never find my way outta here.

————

I highly recommend you check out the song, or even pick up his albums: they’re super solid all the way through.