SUNDAY SPIRITUALITY: Not-So-Sola Scriptura
by Maddie Johnston
Chameleon Spirituality Blogger
My roommate introduced me to a song the other day, and now I wait until she leaves the apartment so that I can play it on repeat for obnoxious amounts of time, hiding from her how obsessed with it I truly am. It’s called “Girl in the War” by Josh Ritter, and it opens like this:
Paul said to Peter, “You know all those words we wrote
were just the rules of the game, and the rules are the first to go.
And now talking to God is Laurel begging Hardy for a gun.
I’ve got a girl in the war, man, I wonder what it is we’ve done.”
Just last week, there was a huge colloquium on campus celebrating the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Vatican II Council, arguably one of the most important settings in which the Catholic church has expressed its views on, and position in, modern society. Vatican II is a great example of those “rules of the game” that Josh references in his charming, understated baritone. Mainline religions need that kind of structure and those definitive guidelines to function and to support the massive number of people who identify with them. For example, I’m Lutheran, and if I ever have a question about my beliefs, chances are good that there is an official, denomination-sanctioned church document or a piece of liturgy that I can reference to find an answer. But sometimes I wonder: is that an entirely good thing? Where do we, or should we, draw the line with regard to the human expression of the divine? Ironic as it is for me to say in a blog post, I think it’s dangerous to assume that we can put everything about God, or any higher power, into writing. When I’m walking to class and I look out on the lake, I can’t find words to describe how I’m feeling or why I’m feeling it…I just know that, for that split second, I’m with God. I fear that, too often, people are intimidated by all of the language and written tradition that accompanies religion, because it’s complicated! Much of it is outdated and hard to understand, and as a result, people are turned off to the idea of worship.
I’m a theology major, so I’m surrounded by this written tradition all of the time. It’s what I like; it’s what I do. But I still maintain, with complete confidence, that we need to get our noses out of our books, our scrolls, our creeds, to have a healthy and balanced spiritual journey. What’s the point of studying God and understanding God if you’re not going to get to see how your faith in God plays out in the real world? I’m so happy to be writing for the Chameleon, and I don’t have a set agenda in mind for this column yet, but I hope that, if nothing else, you can find something in it that will speak to you on a personal level and remind you of something that moved, or is still moving, your soul. I hope that, every day, you will challenge yourself in your faith, or lack thereof, without limiting yourself strictly to text.