The opposite of faith is not doubt but certainty. Certainty is missing the point entirely. Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and the discomfort and letting it be there until some light returns. Ann LaMott. Plan B Further Thoughts on Faith
I’m not certain about much. I woke up today feeling the ridiculousness of believing in an invisible partner to fashion myself after and follow. This whole idea of religions seems rather foolish. Why not live my own life my way? Prayer seems like one step removed from the delusion of talking to your self. The whole idea of church struck me as rather cult-ish. So why do it? Why put myself through all of the mental anguish that comes with faith? If I don’t want to come at this from a ‘yay! I’m down with Jesus’ perspective, what am I left with?
Here’s the thing: we all have worldviews, these grids through which we digest reality. For that matter, we all have meta-narratives–over-arching stories–that we cling to. There is a certain appeal to this mythic image of the rugged individual that America holds so dear. It is easier to believe that the truly strong don’t need anyone. Religion becomes a crutch, an opiate, that we need to reject in favor of learning to trust in ourselves. Our intellect, our capabilities.
I’ve become convinced that with nothing bigger or outside of ourselves, we can’t help but produce nihilistic, cynical, and joyless people (and art). No, I’ve got no evidence to back this up with besides anecdotal observations. Consider it a hunch. As smart as we are, there are limits to what we can know. I believe that reason can only take us so far in our quest for knowledge. It then also becomes reasonable that at some point faith can take us further along in that same quest.
Our wisdom, in so far as it ought to be deemed true and solid Wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But as these are connected together by many ties, it is not easy to determine which of the two precedes and gives birth to the other. For, in the first place, no man can survey himself without forthwith turning his thoughts towards the God in whom he lives and moves; because it is perfectly obvious, that the endowments which we possess cannot possibly be from ourselves; nay, that our very being is nothing else than subsistence in God alone. In the second place, those blessings which unceasingly distil to us from heaven, are like streams conducting us to the fountain. Here, again, the infinitude of good which resides in God becomes more apparent from our poverty. In particular, the miserable ruin into which the revolt of the first man has plunged us, compels us to turn our eyes upwards; not only that while hungry and famishing we may thence ask what we want, but being aroused by fear may learn humility.
I get the post-modern distrust of meta-narrative, since overarching stories/myths have been used as oppressive forces. But we need a meta-narrative to understand and interpret the world around us. The key is to have a redeeming meta-narrative, not an oppressive one. In the final analysis, the meta-narrative that I subscribe to, prayer makes sense. In the meta-narrative that I subscribe to, trusting in God makes sense.
I suppose that I ought to think this through a little more. My gut tells me that there are glaring holes in my reasoning (such as it is). There’s just a jumble of thoughts in my head right now that I’m trying to make sense of. I guess for me, faith boils down to this: to understand mystery, you have to think with the heart. I want to make the most of this gift called life. I remember what gives my life meaning. Friends, family, loving people period. Autonomy is not all it’s cracked up to be. And I do this in light of something bigger than myself. A belief in God.
Because believing in people–in our ability to do right if left to our own devices–seems so ludicrous that believing in God seems downright rational.
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