Sunday, January 30, 2011

Why not know: Belief in Faith.

Faith is a beautiful thing.

Faith moves mountains, Faith inspires, Faith encourages humans all over the world to forgo that which is assured for that which will one day reap an even greater reward. As I heard when I was young, and as a defense for faith, we place our trust in the unseeable and unknowable every day, from when I open a can expecting soup to be inside, I have faith that the label is telling me the truth, right? Or when you turn your key, you have faith that the engine is going to roar with life.

These, I feel, are false analogies. Faith is always a conscious decision. Generally, I turn the key without thinking about if it might not run. I open my can and of course it's filled with my soup. There is a choice in faith. You can't have faith unless you're thinking about faith. (Perhaps I'll expound on this later)

There's something about our society today that just loves faith. it's so darn inspirational! Hallmark probably generates half their revenue from that single concept alone... Believing in the unseen. Trusting in the unknowable...

I'm wondering if we're wrong about faith. Or maybe we missed the point.

I'm reading a book for class full of words or phrases like "habitus," "milieu," and "small scale societies." Anthropology, it fascinates me. So far I've learned: trying to completely enter another person's experience of life is, well, basically impossibly complicated. Perception of reality and the meaning of things within one's community completely alter's your experience and others' expectations.

In this book, there's a brief story of one of these small scale societies in South-Asia that had an incredibly difficult time understanding what Faith was from the missionaries sent there. Their local traditions had no analogue, because for them, the spirits of their forefathers were simply a fact. The existence of several states of after-life existence were simply different states of life, and that they could hold a conversation through a shaman with their deceased uncle is for them as mundane as going to the dentist is for us.

This got me thinking: why don't they need faith? Goodness, they don't even have a concept of faith. For them, this is knowing. It's real. An inarguable fact. Something perhaps we've lost the concept in our post-modern perception of the world: inarguable facts. There must always be another side or a bias or relative point of view or hidden agenda thrown in there.

So now all we're left with is: Faith. When presented the Story of Our Redemption, we're told it's real, we believe it's real, than what keeps us from knowing?

--> I wonder if we're all afraid of being found out as fools? (Then what's keeps us from not being afraid?) Or perhaps we as Christians are still trying to reconcile the ponderous quantities of knowledge, pomp, and foolery brought on by Enlightenment and Capitalism with our understanding of Scripture.

1 comment:

  1. hummm. Very interesting. Something for me to think about. Thank you!

    (though I usually think that about all your posts, just decited to say so this time!)