I have been lately thinking a deal about difference between having Faith and having a Philosophy. The two have been collapsed into being seen as a set of beliefs about the world. The collapse has been not formal in the sense that the two would be seen as synonymies of each other, but in how they function in the world. I have heard that Faith is claimed to powerful in and of itself. Recently fox sports published a story on Kurt Warner's faith. In it, Mark Kriegel saw Warner's faith as a key to his success, but the Warner's faith was seen apart from his faith in Jesus. Faith as a system of belief was what mattered and cause the success, the content of the belief:
"Actually, the issue isn't really religion. It's faith. I don't care what or whom a ballplayer believes in: Jesus, Moses, Buddha, L. Ron Hubbard. I don't care what his position is on stem cell research, abortion, gay rights. But a system of belief — any system, really — that stills the mind and quells doubt is of obvious benefit, particularly if you're an athlete."
Faith as a system of belief viewed in such a way then can easily lead to Faith in myself. Then is there a difference between Kurt Warner's faith in Jesus and Terrell Owen's faith in his own skills (to keep in the world of professional sports). Faith as a system of belief is in reality a philosophy and not a faith at all. Follow me. A philosophy is more a set of propositions or a set of beliefs to which a person ascribes to. Faith should be an onological event that changes the self. If I have faith in Jesus, then it alters who I am, while if I hold to a philosophy of Jesus, it does not. The major difference comes down to faith forces me to be and do things differently than I would like to, while philosophy does not need to call me beyond myself. Viewed from this angle, then the object of faith is what transformed. The faith in Jesus is profoundly different than faith in Naziism to take the extreme. It works even if you reframe form the extremes. Faith in capitalism is different than faith in money and shapes us differently. In all cases the object of faith shapes the self. Having faith has to be having faith in something.
Friday, January 9, 2009
Mystery has been used in Theological questions as a way of drawing a boundary, as in once reach, no further work can be done. Why does God allow suffering? Once the question leads to uncomfortable ground, the conversation stops with a simple statement, "It is a mystery." The more I have ponder this, the more I start to see that mystery has been collapsed as a distinction with "I don't know," followed by an unsaid demand to shut up. Mystery constructed as answer tends to stop inquiry, which contradicts the notion of mystery drawing one closer to God. Mystery is better when understood as closer to wonder than as an answer. Wonder pulls us into relationship. Wonder is why when a relationship is new, we feel so alive and it seems so fresh. Who is this person? fills us with a longing to learn more about the other. Then invariably we give an answer, and our relationships become dull and sad. Yet, what if we could stay in that state of wonder about the other, the world, life and God? Would be in a constant state of prayer?
Friday, January 2, 2009
Here are some random thoughts after listening to this week’s Speaking of Faith about the Spiritual life of Children. Krista Tippet does a great job of making you wonder about our world. I kept thinking about how much wonder plays in spiritual life. Adults start to lose their wonder about existence. Most adults by early twenties have lost most of their questioning about life. Why? When we say that someone has become jaded are we really saying that that person has lost the capacity to wonder. Wonder is the application of imagination to questions. Where the adult loses wonder is in the loss of questions. We are too full of answers to have any room for questions. If fact that is why we get so easily annoyed by the questions of children. They quickly reminds us how small our knowledge and wisdom really is. The parables of Jesus really are an attempt to recapture in the Adult the sense of wonder that faith should provide. They are provocative because they leave us with questions. After reading the serious of parables about what the Kingdom of God is like in Matt 13-16 I am always left more in question then in answers. And as I look at from the outside, I realizes that my state of being is wonder.
Once when I was about twenty or so, and my nephew, go was five at the time, we were traveling in a car, when he lit-up with eyes the rivaled the car tires and said, “Wow, look!”
“What,” I responded“Cows” He said about a herd a cows next to the road. I thought at first so what, and then I realized he was right. The Cows on the side of the road as a cause for wonder, as was a young boy gripped by wonder. Wonder is both a form of prayer and a spiritual disciple.