When a child enters the world she does not begin with a system of beliefs that must be accepted before she belongs to the family. The infant, in a healthy environment, begins her life with absolute, unconditional acceptance. The infant belongs to the family as the family now belongs to the infant. As the child grows she gradually learns to engage in the various rituals in which the family engages. These will include times when the family members eat together, play together, relax together, and so on. Then the child will begin to form a set of beliefs about the world into which she is already embedded. These will generally begin by mimicking the beliefs of the parents. Then these beliefs will like come into conflict with those of the parents, as she attempts to wrestle with the world for herself and test limits. And finally she will often come into some equitable relationship with the parent’s beliefs, agreeing with some and disagreeing with others. Within a healthy, loving family each of these stages will be welcomed and allowed room to breathe.
This approach thus places belonging first, followed by behavior, followed last and least, by belief. This model is what we find in operation within a broadly Hebraic approach to faith, an approach that emphasizes belonging to the community and engaging in the shared rituals of that community. When it comes to our beliefs, that is, to theoretical reflection up on our embedded existence, there is an acknowledgment that we will often think and rethink these at various times in our lives. What is important is that, regardless of the doubts and beliefs we have, we know that we have a vital place in the community and are encouraged to remain involved in the traditions—traditions that, at their best, provide ample space for doubt, ambiguity, and uncertainty.
from Pete Rollin’s, ‘Fidelity of Betray: Towards a Church Beyond Belief,’ pages 154-155