Back in 2011, Richard Rohr wrote a book called Falling Upward. Richard, a warmhearted Franciscan brother, Catholic priest, insightful teacher, and bestselling author, is founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation, and I am honored to call him friend, mentor, and colleague. Falling Upward resonated with hundreds of thousands of readers because it told a secret that few dare to tell: somewhere in the journey of our lives, the faith we inherited often stops working. We go through a transition period, a period of letting go of many things and holding on to a precious few. To me, the title is perfect, because it simultaneously tells a painful truth and raises a hopeful possibility: the experience of doubt feels like falling, but could it actually be an upward fall?
Richard rightly identified how, for many, this faith crisis hits in the middle of life, and I’ve found that to be especially true among baby boomers and older generational cohorts. But for younger generational cohorts, the tide of doubt seems to flood in at younger and younger ages, suggesting that this epidemic of faith-struggle is more a stage of faith than a stage of life, reflecting a massive cultural shift that is making traditional beliefs less and less viable for more and more people. If they don’t find genuine understanding and intelligent support to face and process their doubts while they’re still in the first half of life chronologically, by the second half of life, they’ll be long gone from religion and finished with faith for good.
From “Faith After Doubt: Why Your Beliefs Stopped Working and What To Do About It” by Brian McLaren