I grew up in a minister's home and listened to Christian music. On the weekends a local Christian radio station featured a countdown of the most popular Christians songs and the announcer would sometimes tell the stories of how these songs came to be.
Some songs were especially inspiring once I knew the history of how they originated.
Years ago Steve Taylor recorded the song Harder To Believe Than Not To. The song title came from a letter written by famous fiction writer Flannery O'Connor. Taylor explained to his fan club that O'Connor's "literary friends in New York City had a hard time believing that a writer of her caliber could be something as common and unfashionable as a follower of Jesus. She reacts in her letter to a criticism that Christianity's primary function is as a crutch for the weak-spirited."
The chorus to Taylor's song says:
Shivering with doubts that were left unattended
So you toss away the cloak that you should have mended
Don't you know by now why the chosen are few?
It's harder to believe than not to
Harder to believe than not to
O'Connor and Taylor both knew that faith in Christ requires a commitment and action. Doubting requires nothing.
This week I discovered part of O'Connor's letter online. Here we see her thoughts in context:
I think there is no suffering greater than what is caused by the doubts of those who want to believe. I know what torment this is, but I can only see it, in myself anyway, as the process by which faith is deepened. A faith that just accepts is a child's faith and all right for children, but eventually you have to grow religiously as every other way, though some never do.
What people don't realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross. It is much harder to believe than not to believe. If you fell you can't believe, you must at least do this: keep an open mind. Keep it open toward faith, keep wanting it, keep asking for it, and leave the rest to God.
This quote comes from the book "The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O'Connor."
More quotes from O'Connor are available at Good Reads.