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28 Apr

I was raised Catholic from a young age. From the beginning, actually.  Catholic school since I was in kindergarten, all the way up through 12th grade.  My parents made that sacrifice because they wanted to ensure a moral education in addition to a book education, and felt that Catholic school was the best way to do that (there are others, of course).  So in addition to math, science, and language arts, I also learned about religion and faith.  (Author’s note, I also was required to take Spanish, I just didn’t learn much of it.)

Faith is a tricky thing. As I remember it, “faith” was what was used to explain things that we couldn’t understand.  Well, when you are 10 or 11 and you are trying to figure out math and girls and how to play soccer, there is a LOT you don’t understand, so it’s almost a relief to just take something on “faith.”  Three persons, one God?  Ok.  God sent Jesus to die for our sins and open up the gates of Heaven?  Sure…I have a game this weekend, and don’t have time to dwell on heavy explanations…

As I matured, I began to think of things differently. The individual items taken on faith, which each stood on their own merit as a divine mystery, began to fall into a different context.

“Women can’t be priests because Jesus was the first priest and he was male.” Easy to take that one on faith as a kid; as a thinking human being that gets harder.  Might it just be that in the un-enlightened times of Jesus, a woman priest would not have been taken seriously, so there weren’t any?

“Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden of Eden for violating God’s directive.” Yes, there could have been an Adam and an Eve and they did just what the Bible says they did, and took their lumps for it (so says faith).  But it could also be that the early part of the Bible was written to explain to the illiterate and uneducated masses that God created everything, and to instill in them a basic moral compass.  A follow-on discussion would include that somewhere between the books of Genesis and Exodus the Bible switches from a “figurative” account to a much more literal history, but we can go down that road another time.

“Noah collected all the animals two-by-two?” Don’t go there.  Polar bears and lions on the same ship?

So maybe all those stories we were told to take on “faith,” when looked at as a total entity, were an elaborate ruse to unite and control the masses and force them on a chosen path with the consequences of “Hell” and other feared damnations if they failed to follow?

Ok, before you get the stones out and cry “heresy,” let me finish.

As an older, well-educated (maybe over-educated) professional, I have learned a critical thinking skill or two. Critical thinking begs the practitioner to ask questions, and to strive to see both sides of a story.  So on one side we have the story as written, with the all-knowing all-loving God who gave us free will because He loves us so much, and sent his only Son to die for our sins, and if we believe we will be with Him for eternity in Paradise (the real Paradise, not San Diego; my wife gets them confused).  On the other, way cynical side, we have another belief system started to keep people in line, promise them damning consequences if they don’t support and comply, with the promise of an afterlife to keep them focused on something in the future and not how miserable their lives are now.

The first option rings true in any time period; the second frays at the edges as time moves forward. Many of our lives are no longer a constant struggle for survival; we don’t have nine children so four may live into young adulthood, and I can’t remember the last time Black Plague, polio, or the measles ravaged my town.  Science has “debunked” many of the things that were iron clad mysteries not that long ago (on humanity’s time scale, anyway), and improved our lifespans and lifestyles in so many ways.  There are plenty of reasons to push all that spiritual nonsense to the side, and be rooted firmly in “reality.”

And I don’t care. I’m still in on “faith.”  For the record, I don’t believe the Adam and Eve story went down exactly the way it was written.  And I have a healthy respect for science, because any scientist worth his test tubes knows there’s far more we DON’T know than we know.  But I believe without a doubt that there is a Divine Presence in this reality, and I call Him God, and He played a pretty significant role in getting me here.  When I die, there is something beyond this, though I don’t know what it will be like, who will be there, and how I will spend eternity (maybe I will finally write that second book).

When I was young, there was much I didn’t understand, the rest I took on faith. Now, older for sure, wiser maybe, I recognize that there are plenty of reasons NOT to believe, yet I CHOOSE to anyway.

THAT, to me, is faith.

One Response to It’s called “faith” for a reason…

  1. Yvonne

    April 28, 2017 at 1:30 am

    Good start on the subject. Read the Book of Hebrews, we’ve been studying it for a few months. Very enlightening. Also have a listen to Pete Briscoe online. Very good teacher.
    We miss you in the neighborhood; hugs to Ivy! ❤️

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