A couple days later and I’m still thinking about that faith statement my dad’s wife made. I spoke with a friend of mine about it today and mentioned much of what I wrote previously. She didn’t like the idea that I though faith was a potentially bad thing. Part of this has to do with the fact that she’s Christian, I’m sure. Another part of it is that faith is rarely seen as a ‘bad’ thing. I see faith like any other powerful thing; it can be used for good or bad.
Faith can be an inspiring and admirable trait. I tend to have faith that everything will work out in any given situation I might be in. It drives people nuts, but it also keeps me sane. I’m happy to have that sort of faith. At times, it’s the only thing keeping me happy. I admire the faith of certain friends of mine who despite whatever happens to them, still believe it’s all part of God’s Plan. I know a couple of people who will literally tell you that faith saved their lives.
But then there’s the flip side. Faith is what made things like 9/11 possible. Faith is what helps people who bomb abortion clinics sleep at night. Faith is what covered up the history of molestation in the Catholic Church. Sure you can say that these are examples of people being crazy, but that’s exactly what faith looks like to the non-faithful.
My favorite quote about religion is from Sting’s ‘All This Time’: “They go crazy in congregations. They only get better one by one.” It’s true. In the history of organized religion, no group has ever all of a sudden attained enlightenment. It’s always an individual. Faith can be a wonderful thing, but blind faith is dangerous. This is why what my dad’s wife said bothered me so much. If you don’t at least occasionally question your faith, then I’m not sure that’s faith. That sounds a lot more like fanaticism.
I’m not against organized religion or Christians or any other given group. It’s just that I have a serious problem with those who refuse to even entertain the concept that there might be another option. People seem to forget that the Greeks and the Romans had Gods that they believed in every bit as devoutly as the purest Christian. These were not stupid people. And as anyone who has ever been at sea during a storm can tell you, it’s easy to believe in a God of the Sea out there.
Faith can be a great thing, but it needs to be tempered by reality.