Looking for clues

I like detective shows.

I like trying to figure out who did it. I usually get it wrong, but I enjoy not knowing and putting the clues together.

Recently, I have been watching ‘Line of Duty.’

Last week, trying to figure out who was the culprit, I took a step back and realised that the script was skilfully written to nudge viewers towards one character and then another.

At one point, all the evidence seemed to lead to the Deputy Chief Constable but later, with more details added, to a Detective Inspector, ‘I thought it was him, not her!’

We like jumping to conclusions, so much so that we are willing to skim over inconsistencies and gaps in our knowledge.

Studies demonstrate that having arrived at a conclusion, we will stick to it even when presented with contradictory evidence, and then with more conviction, ‘No, you’re wrong.’

This is sobering.

This insight is relevant to religious beliefs. So much is at stake when contemplating the divine, and there is less ‘evidence.’ We are even less willing to consider different views, and we are uncomfortable with insights that are nuanced or incomplete.

Concerning same-gender marriage, many arrive at conclusions for which the evidence is at best incomplete. However, you wouldn’t know that by listening to them.

An oft unremarked fact about the teaching of Jesus is that it’s incomplete. It doesn’t cover every possibility. It isn’t logical or analytic; usually, it’s in the form of a parable or a pithy saying.

However, that doesn’t stop modern-day Christians from proclaiming precisely what Jesus meant, and doing so with great clarity and conviction.

We claim to know so much more than we do.

Many believe that arguing vociferously for God does God a service. I think not.

I think unknowing does God better service, especially in this age when people are looking for depth and are tired of clichés.

For example, Jesus did not comment about same-gender marriage. He said nothing about homosexuality, so we cannot argue that we know the view of Jesus.

It is in the context of not knowing that we can move forward.

In the spiritual life, humility rather than bold claims leads to insight.

Several weeks ago in worship, I mentioned ‘the spiritual pause.’

I see it as a time to stop, to hold back pressing claims to know, and then to wait for what will evolve.

It will not be a comprehensive answer, but it may be a glimmer of insight, and that will be enough.

It is like a clue in a good detective story. It will point one way, but as other clues emerge, new directions will appear.

In a world where convictions are frequently shouted aloud this may appear inadequate, but through the eyes of faith, it is enough.