I know that not too many people who read my blogs understand them let alone agree with any one of them to any quantifiable degree. I don’t have a problem with that. I would be greatly surprised to find anyone (other than Star) who might agree 100% with any one of the concepts I have put forth. And I think that this one is going to possibly be unpopular with a lot of readers….
But lately I have been thinking a lot about the word “faith” and what it means – both as defined by the dictionary and what people may perceive it to mean. I mostly hear people mention the word in two contexts: i. in terms of religious belief and ii. in terms of hopefulness. I have heard statements such as “I practice my religious faith earnestly…”, “I have faith things will work out…”, and “I have faith in that person…” It seems people hold that word in very high regard. “To hold true faith and allegiance …”, as part of a military oath goes. But once that word is uttered, should we all get a warm and fuzzy feeling in our gut, or should we take caution? I think that most people like hearing that word. I think that most people think they know exactly what the word means and what the underlying intent is of its usage. Well, that is the tricky part; ‘knowing’ exactly what other people think. But I can pick up a dictionary and read the ‘official’ definition based on collective agreement.
According to the Webster’s II New Riverside University Dictionary (1994): faith – n. (origin from Latin fides meaning to trust) 1. Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing. 2. Belief not based on logical proof or material evidence. 3. Loyalty to a person or thing. 4 a. Belief in God. b. Religious conviction. 5. A system of religious beliefs. 6. A set of principles or beliefs.
The word that I see as defining faith is “belief” and therefore interchangeable. “I have faith/belief in that person, thing, idea.” To me that is interesting, because I have tried really hard to eliminate the word ‘belief’ from my vocabulary (in reference to my thoughts and feelings on people, things and theories). In my opinion, one should either know something or have a feeling about it. If one does not have an opinion/feeling/theory that is theirs, then that is alright. You don’t have to think one way or the other about everything. But to say that you believe in something (have faith) is to say that you don’t know one way or the other and that you are deferring to an already established system of theology that was developed without your input –or- an intangible force to cause things to work out in your favor (Luck). Faith is the same way. One is hoping, wishing, desiring, with no action on ones own part to know for sure or create the desired out come.
Bottom line: you either know something, or you don’t. If you don’t, find out. That may be easier done when dealing with people and things, but what about religion? Drive downtown and count how many churches there are. Go to a bookstore and count how many ‘holy scriptures’ are for sale (not just the ‘Christian’ ones) and in how many different versions or interpretations. If you’re brave and have plenty of time on your hands, do a search on the internet. So who truly knows? Which is ‘right’? Why? How do they know? How can you be sure?
Only you can answer that because only you know what you think and feel. Don’t ask yourself “What do I believe?” or “What do I have faith in?” Just pay attention to how you feel. Do you feel god/gods/goddess/goddesses in or around you? Do you feel that he/she/they are a part of you? Do you feel that this Universal Force is going to punish you if you don’t go to a church/temple/synagogue/mosque? Do you really need someone telling you what is the right thing to do and what is harmful to yourself or others?
You can take control over your life by taking back what you are responsible for – you. Your thoughts, your knowledge of your feelings for your relationship with your god(s)/goddess(es)/Universal Force, your place in this world. Don’t have ‘faith’ in something. Don’t ‘believe’ in something. Know it. Feel it. How? Know yourself. Learn who you truly are and be honest with yourself. If you can’t be honest with yourself, then no one will ever be honest with you. And whatever your thoughts and feelings are right now about deity(ies), the more you discover about yourself, your understanding of deity(ies) will evolve with you. No one can define god to you in one Sunday, one Saturday, or one Friday – it takes a life time – your life time.