Lesley Hazleton: The doubt essential to faith

“Abolish all doubt and what’s left is not faith, but an absolute heartless conviction; you are certain that you possess the truth, inevitably offered with a capital T, and certainty evolves in turn into an overweaning pride at being so very right.”

This is a mesmerizing 20 minute talk by an agnostic Jewish biographer of Mohammed in which she discusses his first reaction to what he experienced on the mountaintop: absolute, stark terror, and how that transmuted into a faith that changed both his life and world history. Her rant about how we’ve abandoned all of the world’s major faiths to the fundamentalists is the main reason why I won’t stop blogging on spiritual subjects, no matter how often I’m tempted to throw in the towel.

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3 thoughts on “Lesley Hazleton: The doubt essential to faith”

  1. Thank you! I keep saying that doubt is healthy and a necessary part of having faith, but there’s a tendency, even in the pagan communities, that you’ll get criticised for doubting. It’s quite discouraging sometimes, to hear all those people tell me that they’re 150% sure of all the things that are happening on their path; it can make one feel inadequate: how is it that I don’t know in the same way? Why won’t the Gods make Themselves known to me in that way? What am I doing wrong? It’s not that I don’t hear/feel/perceive. I can do that full well, especially lately. But I still doubt, sometimes more than a little. Aaaanyway, thank you for posting this!

    1. I think doubt is one of the necessary stages we all love through when we’re newer to our paths, but simply having been on your path for a while doesn’t entirely get rid of it. There are things that I do know about my path (my relationship with Odin, for example)–yet, when the gods have made Themselves known to you, even when you have more than enough “evidence” to trust in Their reality in your life, there are still moments of doubt, moments when you feel as if you’re floating in space with no solid ground beneath you. The gods continually surprise us and make us question what we think we know–about Them and about ourselves. Anyone who tells you they have every single thing about their path figured out, and their “signal clarity” is ALWAYS so good that there is no room for even a flicker of doubt, ever, is lying, either to you or to themselves.

      1. moments when you feel as if you’re floating in space with no solid ground beneath you” —> that is a very apt description. It comes completely out of left field, a sudden feeling of having the ground slipped out from under my feet. And then other times, everything just feels perfectly clear and sometimes I do just know… but that’s not always, and certainly not about everything that concerns my “path”… and now that you mention it, I can see that it’s something that happens most in the beginning of everything: I haven’t felt that way in a while, actually (which probably means I’ve got another big one coming).

        I think the only way through these spells is on faith. And I also think the Gods appreciate faith, but I wouldn’t know why exactly… perhaps it is because we make an extra effort the moment when we’re not 100% sure…

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