Some may get sick of my quoting Liz Gilbert’s book, but there are so many excellent nuggets of wisdom sprinkled throughout that I can’t help it. I’ve learned much from this wonderful spiritual quest. Here’s the latest:
The devout of this world perform their rituals without guarantee that anything good will ever come of it. Of course there are plenty of scriptures and plenty of priests who make plenty of promises as to what your good works will yield (or threats as to the punishments awaiting you if you lapse), but to even believe all this is an act of faith, because nobody amongst us is shown the endgame. Devotion is diligence without assurance. Faith is a way of saying, “Yes, I pre-accept the terms of the universe and I embrace in advance what I m presently incapable of understanding.” There’s a reason we refer to “leaps of faith”–because the decision to consent to any notion of divinity is a mighty jump from the rational over to the unknowable, and I don’t care how diligently scholars of every religion will try to sit you down with their stacks of books and prove to you through scripture that their faith is indeed rational; it isn’t. If faith were rational, it wouldn’t be–by definition–faith. Faith is belief in what you cannot see or prove or touch. Faith is walking face-first and full-speed into the dark. If we truly knew all the answers in advance as to the meaning of life and the nature of God and the destiny of our souls, our belief would not be a leap of faith and it would not be a courageious act of humanity, it would just be…a prudent insurance policy (page 175).
And that my friends is why fundamentalists who insist on biblical inerrancy aren’t practicing faith at all. To insist you have all the answers contained in a single book is not faith. That’s a straight-jacket around your concept of God and height of insurance policy making. That’s, to use J. B. Phillips’ explanation, Your God in a Box or Your God’s Too Small. Biblical inerrantists are acting primarily out of fear not faith; fear that perhaps God is speaking to other people and in different ways and through a variety of means; fear that women might “change” the image they’ve created of a hell-committing, abusive, brow-beating male god into a loving, all-embracing, compassionate god who universally loves rather than exclusively hates. Those who make fear their “faith” see sin everywhere but in themselves and have to legislate others’ perceived sins rather than focus on their secret sin. Everyone knows that those who crow the loudest about sin are hiding some whoppers of their own. I think the same case can be made for atheists as well. The current backlash against fundamentalism in America is perhaps very well deserved, but there is no reason to call for an end to faith. No such thing could ever happen, EVER. Some very excellent, decent, and loving people exist on faith, which to me is just another word for hope and if you kill hope in a society….well we can see the fallout of that all around us. Elizabeth Gilbert ends her quote this way:
I’m not interested in the insurance industry. I’m tired of being a skeptic. I’m irritated by spiritual prudence and I feel bored and parched by empirical debate. I don’t want to hear it anymore. I couldn’t care less about evidence and proof and assurances. I just want God. I want God inside me. I want God to play in my bloodstream the way sunlight amuses itself on water (176)
Powered by ScribeFire.