Carolyn Briggs: Salvation Lost and Found

 

I would like to recommend a very important book for spiritually-minded people, Higher Ground: A Memoir of Salvation Lost and Found by Carolyn Briggs. This is Brigg’s story of being raised in a very hyper-fundamentalist religion and her struggle to escape its oppressive grip on her life. It has now been made into a movie, Higher Ground, which which made Roger Ebert’s April Eberfest and was feted by the Sundance Move Festival in 2011.

I had the great honor of meeting this lovely woman at my church last weekend where she previewed this movie and then was interviewed by our rector about the movie and some of her experiences. Ms. Briggs emanated a lovely spiritual presence as she described her experiences, admitting that there is a sorrow that follows her to this day due to the loss of the certainty that once was such an essential part of her faith. She now recognizes that doubt is part of faith and shared how that now she has a deep, abiding faith in God even though she no longer has the comfort provided by the close-knit (and close-minded) group that she was part of. But she does have the comfort of like-minded kindred spirits, many of which have followed a similar path in their life.

I would also recommend that you read an article by her in Religion Digest last year about her trip to an atheist convention. Her observations are very amusing as they show just how fanatical and obnoxious some atheists can be, much like the “compulsive Christians” that they decry and redicule. (Google Brigg’s name and “atheist convention” and you will find it on the net.)

Let me clarify something about the notion of rejecting one’s faith, evangelical/fundamentalist or otherwise. This “rejection” does not have to be the end of one’s faith. This “rejection” can be merely letting go of the “letter of the law” and embracing the “spirit of the law.” The Bible and Christian dogma is no longer merely ideology with which one has been indoctrinated. It becomes personal and has meaning that it did not have before.

This experience means that we become willing to realize, and humbly experience, that we only “see through a glass darkly.” We do not know objectively the truth. Therefore we can be a little more tolerant of those who believe differently. We do not have to go on witch-hunts, medieval crusades, or jihads. We merely have to let our faith become articulate in our own day to day personal life and any evangelization that needs to take place will come naturally without our manipulative wiles and machinations.

 

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