Faith

I was going to write about faith here, because it’s been on my mind lately. But just recently, I got this link in my e-mail – fortuitously, only a few minutes before I started writing this – and thought it was something good to hare, both because it deals with mental illness and it touches on faith:

Along with this, I thought I’d quote from a blog post of mine from last year on faith, since I think it still pretty much applies; you can find the rest of my post here.

“I’m pretty sure I don’t fall under the wings of any particular denomination; I’m Christian, but that’s about as far as I can go. Instead, my faith is kind of a grab-bag of things; some deism, some Christianity, some other bits and pieces – I think at one point I was seriously referencing the “Godfellas” episode of Futurama. Essentially, it all boils down to this: I think that there is a god, but due to the immensity of his/its likely power, intelligence, and abilities, there’s no real ability for humanity to seriously understand God, because we just don’t have the perceptive abilities to encompass him. And once God ensured we had free will, and the ability for rational thought, he stepped back, letting us find our own way, and watching as we tried to understand. Eventually, though, God decided that our understanding was important to him, and so he sent a messenger, one very important to him, to act as a conduit for our understanding – that being Jesus. And while we have free will, and God doesn’t often step in to act directly – because that would contradict our free will – we might never know if he does, because, quoting from the aforementioned Futurama episode, “When you do things right, people won’t be sure you’ve done anything at all.”

For the most part, I think that my particular version of Christianity is pretty chilled out – we’re supposed to be good to the people around us. We’re supposed to give aid to others in need, especially if we have more than we can reasonably use – if I have 600 sandwiches, and you have none, it doesn’t cost me much to give you food, but it might mean the world to you. But we’re supposed to give not for praise or acknowledgement, but because we think it’s the right thing to do. The belief should be matched by works – some effort, large or small, to help our fellow man – because words need to be backed up by deeds for faith to be taken seriously. I don’t know that I feel the need to actively spread my faith – if people are helped by what I do, then that’s good enough. I don’t need to proselytize; if they want to know, they’ll ask. Christianity isn’t a secret, hidden religion anymore – it’s the biggest faith on the planet, even if it is broken up into dozens of denominations.  And my faith is my own; I don’t have, or feel the need to be identified as, anything other than a Christian. I don’t think  my faith has any bearing on the faith of others, either – my beliefs are mine, and given that I can’t possibly know that God is real for certain, who am I to say that my beliefs are right? All I can do is act like a good person, and believe what I believe, and go from there.”

My faith isn’t the most complex of things, but I don’t think it’s wrong just because it isn’t complex. I’m not sure it’s right, either, and I’m willing to talk about it and bring in new ideas, because faith isn’t certainty. Faith is belief, and while it may be strong belief – Collins English Dictionary defines faith as “strong or unshakeable belief in something, esp. without proof or evidence” – it means there has to be room for change in that belief. And so while I believe that God is watching, I don’t believe that He has a particular plan for me. And I know my thoughts on belief and faith can be caustic at times – my sense of humor where faith is concerned seems to keep getting me in trouble, and may have been at fault, at least partially, in the loss of at least one good friendship. But my thoughts and what I say about faith are mine; I don’t mean them to apply to anyone else’s. When I make a joke about God, that is part of my relationship with God, and not meant as a slight or an insult. My faith doesn’t need to have any bearing on yours, or anyone else’s. When I pray, if I pray for you, I’m saying that I care about you and I want to make sure God maybe can throw a little love your way; I’m not asking you to share in my faith or my belief. I find all the hate and fear and anger people have with other people about their faith – just the beliefs, not necessarily the acts that back them up – to be bewildering. I want to be able to talk about faith and belief with other people of faith and not worry that everything I say will be taken badly. 

I guess I’m not really sure what I mean here, and I don’t know how to be clearer without engaging in some sort of dialogue with someone, so I’ll end with a quote – though who it’s from is unknown (it’s been linked to Marcus Aurelius, former Roman emperor, but seems unlikely to be his work):

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

Oh, and May the 4th be with you.

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