By the Reverend Dr. Johanna McCune Wagner
Director of Spiritual Life
Beyond the usual debates over whether or not God exists or whether or not religion is good, lies another question, namely, how does all of this stuff work?
How does something like confession change a person’s relationship to the past?
What about prayer? Is this just an attempt to get our way no matter what the odds? Or is there something else going on here?
Every once in a while a student will ask me if I really believe in God. I will jokingly reply, well, if I don’t now, I better figure something out before Sunday!
In reality, however, I think this question very profound. What are people trying to say when they use this word God? What experience are they trying to point towards? Or perhaps more importantly, what experience are they trying to generate?
When we are young, God is a character in stories. He does things like create worlds, whip up storms, argue with and inspire prophets, and weep for the loss of friends.
When we get older, we realize that these stories are trying to tell us something about the richness of our experience here on earth.
There is never just now. There is the possibility of something new.
There is never just pain. There is the possibility of purpose.
Over the next few months, I will be blogging on some of what I have learned about religion’s inner workings. My goal will not be to prove anything in particular, so much as to help people consider the difference religious words and practices can make in their lives and the lives of the students we serve.
Culver’s mission is to educate for leadership and responsible citizenship. Spiritual Life’s mission involves ensuring that our student leaders get the chance to see and grasp as much about this world and themselves as they are able. Words like God, faith, wisdom, mindfulness, dharma, and shirk, and practices like prayer, singing, debate, meditation and study can help them do this. I look forward to sharing some insights about these words and practices with you in the months to come.