Eve Tushnet on being almost Christian:
So: Sometimes, especially when very philosophically-minded people talk about God or their hypothetical future-tense conversion, I think they may be confusing faith and spiritual consolation. They talk as if they accept the Catholic (I feel like I mostly see this with Catholic-symps) anthropology, the Catholic view of human nature and purpose. They talk, in fact, as if they’re pretty sure that the Catholic picture of human life would explain and add to their understanding of the world in a way which no merely secular philosophy could match. And yet they don’t “have faith,” which, the more they talk about it, sounds like it means that they haven’t had a direct experience of God’s presence. They haven’t had an encounter with the living God, at least not when they could recognize Him. So they are stuck, wandering around with this kind of zombie worldview, thinking maybe it will be brought fully to life one day by a bolt of God-lightning.
But a felt sense of God’s close, tender, sublime presence isn’t faith. I think the Catholic jargon for it is spiritual consolation, but I’m certainly open to correction there! A sense of total abandonment by God, total aloneness, is entirely compatible with unflinching faith. So is spiritual anomie or boredom or simple anticipation of a more visceral encounter with God.