He’d really learned a lot from the studies, but even though he was only part-way through the course, he’d started to have doubts. His eyes had been opened to differences between the Bible knowledge that he’d previously understood, nearly all of it from the sermons that he had heard from the pulpit, and that which he’d now gathered from his course and from detailed expert commentaries. His faith had been challenged at a fundamental level. He still felt that there was a credible core in which he could believe, but he realised that there were aspects of his previous faith that needed to be considered and reviewed in the light of his, now, deeper understanding.
He’d also, recently, been reading more popular-science books about cosmology and quantum mechanics; about Evolution and about the influences on the ways that history has been taught through the ages. Some recent popular scientific research seemed to be as problematical as theology. Too much modern religious writing seemed to be trying to squeeze what was credible about God between the gaps in scientific knowledge. Against this, too many recent reports of scientific research into cosmology seemed to be attempts to squeeze mathematical guesswork into the gaps in the evidence available.
On top of all that, there was people. Steve represented his local parish church on some area deanery committees and the discussion at those meetings was too often conducted in hostile bickering between factions – not in what he’d expected of Christians. Even within the St Philip’s congregation there were, too often, discussions that should have been more constructive and less bitter.
In addition to all those considerations, as he looked back over the years since his conversion, he now regretted the way his marriage had ended. He was beginning to understand that there had been a gulf between what he had thought it meant to be a Christian, and the way he’d failed to attend to his role as husband and father.
Recently he had read a motto to the effect that Charity begins at home – but if your faith leads you to be less than loving to your own family – don’t impose it on others.
As a simple member of the congregation, this might not have mattered, but in his other roles, from preaching to the matters to which he would be required to publicly attest, he was now troubled. One option would be to tell the Vicar that he wanted to step back from his duties. This would involve a difficult conversation. Dropping out of the course would mean an end to his current access to some of the learning resources it provided. It would also mean that he would be questioned about his decision by fellow church members. He didn’t want to cause them to have doubts about their faith.
He could, of course, save himself and the Vicar from embarrassment by keeping his doubts to himself and continuing with the course. But he would see this as being both cowardly and dishonest. Furthermore, he would soon reach the point of a licensing service, probably at the Cathedral, where he would be publicly required to testify to his faith and its traditions. He knew that he would not be able to do that in good conscience.
The other option – of ceasing to attend church altogether – was something that he was not, not yet anyway, prepared even to contemplate.
So, his current dilemma was, in essence, when should he approach the Vicar, and tell his friends. It had been embarrassing for him at the last dance meeting when Cathy had greeted him, ‘Evening, Vicar.’ He’d been tempted to tell her that he was considering stepping down from the course and his church roles. Even being a sidesman required an annual public declaration of faith.
He’d held back from saying anything at the dance. It was the wrong time and the wrong place. It would have embarrassed his good friends in such a context. There were people that he needed to consult before he went public. Other than the Vicar, he wanted also to tell George and Beryl privately – as close friends, neighbours and members of the congregation. It was George who had introduced him to the church in the first place. He also needed to decide whether to tell them first, prior to meeting the vicar – perhaps asking them to come to his home for coffee and a cake.
Before he spoke to either George or the Vicar, he needed to marshal his thoughts carefully. He sat down at his dining table with a pen and a pad of paper.
It’s spring in Steve’s garden, so I’ve decided that he should be able to see some spring flowers from his window.
I took this shot of the tulips with my 36 MP Pentax K-1 full-frame camera using a Pentax 24-70 mm f/2.8 lens.
EXIF data were: 1/20 secs @ f/3.2 and 68 mm. ISO was 100.