This is something that I am writing as a potential short piece for one of my classes this semester. The criteria for the piece is a 500-750 word count, genre is non-fiction. I would appreciate any feedback, ranging from stylistic choices, form/content, general ideas, etc. Leave them in the comments. Thanks!
doubt: The first usage of the word, in English, appears to be sometime in the 13th century. To convey, “the state of uncertainty with regard to the truth or reality of anything; undecidedness of belief or opinion.” According to the Oxford English Dictionary online, that is.
As a child of about ten, I can vividly remember when I learned to doubt. My best friend at the time had concocted some notion that, when placed underneath one of our beds, some Sonic the Hedgehog toys would come to life. The only problem was, outside of a ten year old seriously making this up, that the toys would revert back once you peeked under the bed. “I don’t believe you,” I tell my friend. “Well, it happens.” “I’ll only believe it if I see it with my own eyes,” I retort back. “Then what about God?” my friend responds, like any good Christian boy would. “That’s different,” I reply feeling the weight of my friends question on my scrawny shoulders.
Truthfully, I probably learned this skill much earlier. I imagine it has something to do with some evangelist coming to our church and invoking the fear of God and hellfire into the congregation. Because, you know, what if I wasn’t actually saved?! These translated into asking my youth leader, when I was around 12, what you are supposed to do if you doubt. He simply pointed to a poster on the wall advertising the band Petra’s new album No Doubt. Yeah, good job on that one hip, youth leader guy.
I should be thankful for these experiences, though. If it weren’t for the ability to cultivate doubt, I wouldn’t have learned how to question and without that, I would make a horrible critical theorist. Not that, you know, I’m that good as it stands now. But I can ask a fairly interesting question from time to time.
It all comes back to doubt, however. It all comes back to wondering if there is a god. What is that god like? How does that god function? Then, if that god isn’t real, what should I hinge my life on? Love? Great! But what is love? Is it what I feel for my wife? Mother? Father? Sister? Brother? So perhaps love isn’t the best way to go, because even if I can get my feelings in check, who’s to say their feelings are the same? And what if I were to tell my parents that I don’t believe in their God anymore? How would I disappoint them in that scenario? And would that constitute a lack of love? It all becomes far too confusing.
A heading for the London Daily Telegraph in 1971 reads, “3 per cent of church-goers have doubts.” I wonder if this is more now? I also wonder if the Oxford English Dictionary needs to have its examples updated. Let’s say it’s only 3 percent, though. That seems incredibly low, too me. I would imagine it’s more along the lines of, “2% admit to doubt, 98% lie about it.”
I wonder too, if in the moment where Jesus cried out, “My God, My God! Why have you forsaken me?!” He doubted as well.*