I Do Believe

Posted: September 21, 2009 in Lessons, Music

Every day is automatically improved by listening to a little Waylon Jennings, but before clicking on the video at the bottom of this posting, enjoy a little background behind the song from my hero, Will D. Campbell.

When you write rare books for a living, paydays are sometimes sporadic. Some years ago my wife said one of us had to get out and find a real job. I sensed a preference. Waylon Jennings, a neighbor and old friend, gave me the prestigious position of cook on his tour bus. Waylon is not noted for excessive piety, but I learned an important theological lesson from him. Late one night I said, “Waylon, what do you believe?”

“Yeah,” he answered. On an overnight stagecoach, a conversation need not be rushed. After a long silence, I asked, “Yeah? What’s that supposed to mean?” Quiet again, until Waylon said, “Uh-huh.” That ended my prying into the state of ole Waylon’s soul.

Today we are bombarded with a theology of certitude. I don’t find much biblical support for the stance of “God told me and I’m telling you, and if you don’t believe as I do, you’re doomed.” A sort of “My god can whip your god” posture. From Abraham, going out by faith not knowing where he was being sent, to Jesus on the cross, beseeching the Father for a better way, there was always more inquiring faith than conceited certainty.

It occurs to me that the troubadour’s response that late night might have been the most profound affirmation of faith I had ever heard. “Yeah. I believe. Don’t bother me with all the baggage.” Recently he wrote a song about that long-ago conversation. “In my own way I’m a believer,” he sings.

Maybe that’s as close as any of us ever get.

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