Having been raised Catholic, complete with six years of nuns in full “penguin” regalia teaching Catholic school, I’m familiar with the concept of faith.
Having rejected Catholicism and all other religions, I’m familiar with the realization that reality often sucks.
Tonight, having exposed myself to my daily dose of muck, mire, stupidity, and hatred in the news, I saw a comment by someone who was taking solace in her faith in God and her belief that under divine guidance it would all work out for the best. (For the moment we’ll ignore the discrepancy between that common view of the deity’s job description and the theological necessity for free will.)
For a moment I was almost jealous. In her piety and faith she wasn’t pissed off, depressed, furious, outraged, or anxious. God would take care of it, all’s well, let’s have dinner!
Then I was wondering how people with that kind of faith can manage to hold on to it when their it turns out God might have been asleep at the wheel that day. I know that many people lose their faith at that time (hey, welcome back to reality, have some wet wipes, there’s a lot of shit being flung about out here!) but many, such as my mother, hold onto it no matter what.
So which is better, to face reality with all of its flaws and warts and at times like this being pummeled heavily about the head and shoulders with the fact that we’re a long, long way from that mythical Paradise? Or to sail through it all with our faith as the rock solid keel keeping us on course, only to end up spinning and capsizing when that keel breaks away?
I’ll stick with reality for a lot of reasons, but here’s a key one that comes to mind.
If you forfeit the ownership of the world’s slimier aspects, you also forfeit any credit for its moments of bliss. You can believe that God’s invisible angels are all around you, or you can find yourself to be an angel of our own making. This can be in the smallest things, the way you treat people from total strangers to heads of state, to the biggest things possible, such as how you choose to react in a crisis.
You also get to take ownership of the world’s rainbows appearing in a ray of brilliant sunshine slipping through a hole in a black thunderhead, the sound of the thunder rolling across the landscape, and the brilliant stars that come in the clear night skies that follow.
Sometimes there is an awful lot of shit to wade through, but if you’re going to have faith, think about a Mozart symphony, a 9-11 first responder, your child’s first cry, and the feel of your lover’s hand in yours as you walk through a quiet forest – then have faith there there really will be a pony underneath all of that shit.