Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Actually, She is a Believer

"When I say I am not a believer, it doesn't mean I believe nothing. It is that belief is not central to my religious and spiritual life. As a matter of fact, belief holds little importance to me at all. Belief doesn't structure my experience; my experience structures what few beliefs I might have"

This is how T. Thorn Coyle opens her piece "Why I Am Not a Believer." The very first sentence is a synopsis of an all too common misconception/myth. The idea that if you do not have religious based beliefs you automatically believe in nothing is absurd. Everyone has beliefs. The nature of those beliefs vary greatly. This is not quite what Coyle means by not being a believer but her variation of this misunderstanding is not much better.

Most of what follows the opening paragraph not only fails to support the idea that beliefs are secondary for Coyle, a great deal of her own writing seems to be self-contradictory. She goes out of her way to isolate belief from experience. Though it is true the two are not synonyms and should not be treated as if they are they do still have a great deal of interconnected aspects.

In some ways the piece was incredibly painful to read. Despite its brevity it was crammed full of all sorts of new age spirituality and psycho-babble. Ultimately, it seemed like she was trying to convince herself that she is not a "believer" mainly because she cannot strip the term of a variety of traditional connotations that she is uncomfortable with. If this little exercise helped her in some way then I'm happy for her. If she thought she was sharing some type of insight with others I hope she re-reads her own writing and thinks about it a bit more.

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