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Engaging emotionally with faith

9 replies to this topic

#1 Mitis angelam

Posted 06 February 2013 - 04:05 PM

Just something I'm musing about, and I'd like to hear what others have experienced.

What helps people to engage not just intellectually with matters of faith, but emotionally?  What helps to let the ideas of a faith speak to people's joys, sorrows, fears and hopes?  What has helped you to make faith a matter of the heart as well as of the head?

#2 Mitis angelam

Posted 07 February 2013 - 08:04 AM

Bump - anyone?

#3 Bernard Woolley

Posted 07 February 2013 - 09:22 AM

Lots of things, but here are a couple:

Worship, especially singing. One of the principles I used to use as a worship leader was that sometimes we sing it because it is so and sometimes we sing it to make it so. It's the latter that goes to your question - sometimes singing is a really good way of taking a truth that I mostly think about, and owning it all the way down into my heart. If you're really paying attention, you can only sing, 'You are all I need' so many times before it starts having an impact.  

Service. There's nothing like putting the ideas into practice. And so often, being in situations where you're serving others throws light on the stuff of faith that you haven't fully integrated - lack of humility, lack of faith in God's sufficiency, yada.

#4 MaMaPepper

Posted 07 February 2013 - 09:48 AM

I too would say music for me and movement, I am not a still singer.

I would have thought a lot of people have the opposite problem. Have a faith or belief in God but can't intellectualise faith, logically defend, trust His word to be confirmed by science (creationism).

As a fairly logical person I find it helps me emotionally. By understanding my faith I am comforted emotionally.

Very little sleep last night so hope this makes sense

#5 Mitis angelam

Posted 07 February 2013 - 09:59 AM

It's possible that a lot of people do have the opposite problem, but I asked because it looks as if I'm going to be doing some work with a very intellectualised community.  (Lots of university academics, PhDs, all of that), and one of the comments I've already had is that they might be intellectually very sophisticated, but that can sometimes be a defence against having to confront one's emotions.

So I was thinking about the things that can help cut through that kind of compartmentalisation; I agree that music (and sensate and aesthetic stimuli more generally) are one possibility.  I was also pondering some meditative techniques.  But I thought I might throw it out there and see what other suggestions people might have.

#6 Feral-as-Meggs

Posted 13 February 2013 - 07:27 PM

How interesting.  

I think the whole Catholic mass is an attempt at this - the colour, the incense, the altar bell, the repetition, the actual eating and drinking, the sign of peace.  

Also reminds me of something in CS Lewis about why people kneel down to pray.  

I did an interesting art exercise once where you had to draw a nude without lifting your charcoal from the paper, so you had to let go of your learned technique/perceptions and just follow the shapes.  

No ideas about how you incorporate any of that.

#7 librablonde

Posted 13 February 2013 - 07:34 PM

For me it's music and art help me connect for faith: musical harmonies and a certain aesthetic can really grab my attention and open me up to the notion of God and his/her presence around me.

#8 Feral-as-Meggs

Posted 13 February 2013 - 07:44 PM

Play them this:


#9 Jane Jetson

Posted 13 February 2013 - 07:46 PM

I am probably going to be no help at all, because I mainly engage with my beliefs on an emotional level - intellectually I think it's all a bit irrational, but I can't help what I believe. (To be honest, on an intellectual level I feel woefully lacking in education about the entire subject - I don't know where to start reading!) I am quite passionate about left-wing politics and I suppose a lot of it comes under a Christian socialist kind of thing (in general, not necessarily referencing the movement) - Jesus identifying with and hanging out with the underclasses and lower classes, and so on.

#10 Feral_Pooks

Posted 13 February 2013 - 08:06 PM

I agree with Jane. Connecting with other people and fighting for social justice feeds my emotional needs and that aspect of my beliefs. Also doing some hard slog towards a good cause... Physical work. Getting hands on. So, rather than intellectualising, just getting into the thick of it.

I also meditate. Well, I try to. I'm never sure, though, what to count this as. I don't really do proper prayer... Like I can say the words and reflect on them but I always feel that it's all going on inside my own head and nowhere else. If that makes sense. I don't feel I'm communicating. But I feel more like I am connected with God when I'm in the muck of it with people and getting info doing something... Worthy, even if very very small. I feel something I can't put into words.

I remember working in the volunteer kitchens after a natural disaster and there was something really beautiful happening. People were chopping up chicken carcasses and serving up food in a very uninspiring environment in a community aching with grief. Yet the love and sense of purpose was really palpable. There was lots of pain, lots of passion and menial work. Lots of "counselling" which everyday people were able to do in ways that a professional can't. Real, genuine connection. I find that kind of experience very much taps into that emotional engagement with my faith. Moments like that where I just think, who cares about intellectualising it all, I've seen it and I don't need words for it.

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