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Tolerating Doubt & Ambiguity

Is your faith a house of cards? If you were wrong about one belief would the whole structure just collapse? If even one injury came to you, one instance of broken trust, would the whole castle fall? If one element was seemingly inconsistent or incompatible—would you burn down the house? This depiction of the psychology of faith is quite fragile. It falls over to even the lightest breath. But what would a flexible faith be? Resilient to even the heaviest gusts of life’s hurricanes. It would adapt and grow as a living, responsive faith. Psychologist Elizabeth Hall joins Evan Rosa to discuss the domains of psychology and theology and what it means for each to “stay in their lane”; she introduces a distinction between implicit and explicit knowledge, and identifies the social- and self-imposed pressure to know everything with certainty; we reflect on the recent trends toward deconversion from faith in light of these pressures; and she offers psychologically grounded guidance for approaching doubt and ambiguity in a secure relational context, seeking to make the unspoken or implicit doubts explicit. Rather than remaining perched upon our individualized, certainty-driven house-of-card faith; she lays out a way to inhabit a flexible, resilient, and relationally grounded faith, tolerant of ambiguity and adaptive and secure amidst all our winds of doubt. This episode was made possible in part by the generous support of Blueprint 1543. For more information, visit Blueprint1543.org.

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Taking Theology Seriously

Over the past two centuries, colleges have slowly replaced theology departments with religious studies departments. But what happens when theology becomes religious studies? It can produce a more neutral, observational approach that might not fully appreciate the normative claims of religious adherents and their values, commitments, and beliefs. A careful historical and objective study of religious history and the dimensions of religious practice are deeply valuable. But engaging religious texts and voices without a serious appreciation for the normative elements—that is, the things about a theological or religious idea that means your life would have to change—that would be a problem. It would evacuate the true substance and meaning of theological claims as they're experienced by religious adherents. But it would also fail to form students of religion and the humanities in a way that poses significant challenges to their own lived experience. For living a life worthy of their humanity. Today, we share a conversation between Tyler Roberts and Matt Croasmun from November 2016. Tragically, Roberts died at the age of 61 on June 3, 2021. He was Professor of Religious Studies at Grinnell College. In this conversation, Roberts reflects on the contribution of theology to the humanities, the role of religious studies in a critical examination of theology, and the importance of appreciating the kinds of theological and moral claims that can change your life. May his memory be a blessing.

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