Sunday, June 10, 2007

Retirement From Track Can Cause Loss of Faith?

Interesting discussion over on the Track & Field News Message Board (thanks for sharing, EPelle) about an article in the UK's Daily Mail. The article features British Olympian Jonathan Edwards, who – although he has been retired for 4 years– is still the world-record holder in the triple jump. At one point in his career, Edwards – like Eric Liddell from Chariots of Fire fame – refused to compete on Sundays. Now that he has stopped competing, he has entered into a mid-life spiritual crisis:

"I don’t claim to fully understand what I’m feeling, other than to acknowledge that something I never doubted – God – I have huge doubts about now," he revealed.

"This is a hugely complex and deeply personal issue," he said. "I think a basic sense of morality is shared by people of all faiths and none. It would be stupid for me to sit here and say that losing my faith didn’t have anything to do with my retirement. Perhaps I had been shielded from doubt because I had such a highly focused life as an athlete. Then, I asked a few questions that I hadn’t asked before."

I don't envy Edwards' position. The questions he is asking now are the most difficult and important he's ever had to ask, certainly more important than whether or not to compete in a track meet. As difficult as it may be to believe when one is in the middle of a Dark Night of the Soul, sincere questions of doubt are probably much more genuine and conducive to spiritual growth than is a smug certainty that doesn't ask any questions.

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