Question Sixteen

If you’re an agnostic is your agnosticism a place of movement or a destination?

In an increasingly fractured world do you occasionally need a safe space?  "No, Mr. Wigdahl, never..."  Bludgeoned by information, opinions, and website "comments" in our age, our collective cry of "enough!" seems reasonable to me.  Please, a quiet space where I can be alone with my comforts, thoughts, and convictions, however vetted they may be.  And yet for me that safe space soon becomes my preferred destination, and I add it to my GPS so it can easily be located.  Take me to it.  And to it I make haste.  Of course then I wonder if safety has betrayed me and maybe even turned on me.  Has my protected space acquired that hard shell that blunts the approach of perhaps both loving and pointed thoughts — considerations that may disturb my private world, even for my good?  And when is my undoing in fact a good?

It occurs to me that being an agnostic is perhaps like being registered as an independent voter.  Having a preference for and embracing life down the middle, as though that were actually possible.  Is it?  But if the pendulum is stopped in the middle does time stop?  Granted, life is messy and clarity seems rarely achieved, but when does the middle of the road become a commitment to non-commitment, if not to safety?  To become comfortable with not knowing.  And more fascinating still is what agnosticism reveals to us about our willingness to go forward into any new territory.  Yikes.

And so we come to the dangers of movement.  Grow or die, they say.  Explore or be left behind.  But what if there is actually a freedom of movement offered to us?  A full freedom, but it has to occur within a culture and a world view that believes movement will only constrict you further.  Is my world asking me to receive, even by faith, an understanding of itself that claims breadth, depth, and openness, but actually forces me into a tight and closely monitored corner of acceptable viewpoints where I am then expected to happily live out my days?  Is this regard is there in play a new spirit of conformity (Question Three)?

So, rather than agnosticism, why not a full, spoken commitment to atheism?  To be all-in.  Perhaps one would rather hedge bets and remain in a fluid center.  And yet, does the posturing center eventually reveal itself as a place of despair?  We know something is wrong, maybe even within us, but achieving escape velocity seems too much to ask, so we ratchet back, center up, and hope that in the end we won’t be disappointed that we didn’t ask more questions of the world and of ourselves.  And isn’t it interesting that in this zone it becomes critical that we surround ourselves with “like-minded” companions?  Those who “love” us enough to stabilize and nurture our center, our indecision, our unquestioned unknowing.  Ahh, friendship at its best.

What say we bust out a bit?  Let’s launch into a no-holds-barred life of graciously…   I repeat, graciously…  interrogating ourselves and the world views around us, entertaining both religious and irreligious impropriety in the process.  Gasp.  Sticking a boot in our spiritual complacencies.  Let’s go down swinging, carving out a memory of ourselves in the world that at least leaves fellow travelers with nothing more to say than, “Wow, what the hell was he thinking?”

So, with your next cup of coffee:  If your agnosticism is a destination, does that say more about you than it says about God?