Month: May 2016

Faith #paganvaluesmonth #preview

It seems like faith lives in a world of simplicity. “Have faith,” and that’s it, you’re supposed to just reach that weird place between contentment and complacency, a steady not-quite thoughtless state that leads to shelves lined with Chicken Soup for the Soul books and handy little rocks with words like “Laugh,” “Faith,” “Hope,” and “Love,” planted in random, ostensibly inspirational spots.

Right… but what the fuck does faith mean anyway?

How is faith different from trust? I know it is – but why?

I’m supposed to have a lot of faith right now. I keep being told to have faith. My life partner of ten years has dragged me 2000 miles away from our home and is now transitioning to female. I’m supposed to have faith. Apparently faith that it will work out to the good.

I’m supposed to have faith that I am in San Francisco for a reason. This, by implication, means I am to have faith that I am the reason, or that the reason involves me, or if it involves me that it’s actually beneficial to me. I can have faith and still have my assumptions stop long before I get to that beneficial place – and thus I can still have faith, and still feel like I’m getting fucked over.

Since I am myself morally opposed to using my shiny new pink taser on simpering twits just because they simper platitudes at me about faith from a place of zero genuine empathy, I am taking to the page instead.

Even before this latest heap of bullshit came down on me I have been walking around faith as though it’s a three dimensional, somewhat puffy statue that no one has thought to touch. People should touch faith. It’s really squishy.

So, when someone says s/he has faith, it’s often presumed that that person means “faith in God.” Great, but let’s break that down:

“I have faith.”

Can Mean: I believe there is a God/ess and/or a divine guiding intelligent principle to the universe.

This in no ways commits to what that person believes about said God/ess.

“I have faith.”

Can Mean: I have faith that there is a God, and that that God is good.

By “good” I mean that that God deserves my trust, and that even if it looks like God is doing something to be an asshole, there is a Big Picture and screwing me over keeps the earth from exploding or something.

“I have faith.”

Can Mean: I have faith that whatever is happening to me now is at some point either going to a)stop b)reverse or c)turn out to actually be a really good thing for me. Notice the absence of mention of God – it is simple faith in a good outcome.

“I have faith.”

Can Mean:  If I do x, y will happen. It may not happen right away, but it will happen. (Reference: Field of Dreams)

“I have faith.”

Can Mean: I am choosing to believe that the voices in my head/the random occurrences etc. are connection with an external spiritual force/synchronicity and not just random.

“I have faith.”

I have no expectations of this situation outside myself – I just know that everything around me is going to do what it’s going to do because physics.

I often describe myself as a woman of faith. Lately, that definition has fallen to the last one – centrifugal force gonna centrifugate. Once, in a weird paroxysm of calm shortly after my father’s death,  I decided that faith is living free from expectations of God. I’m not sure I’m willing to change that one yet. It relieves a pretty big burden for me to go “OK, something is there…and that’s it. I’m not obligated to attribute anything else. If I doubt something is there, I am not burdened with the responsibility of disproof, either.”

There is a God, in my world view. That’s all faith is – I have faith there is one. All that other stuff about good and reasons and universal balance? They’re pretty thoughts but I feel zero inner obligation to have faith beyond is or isn’t. I don’t know what that thing is thinking or if the thing has a plan. I just know it’s there.

Believing there IS a God/ess is easy for me. Also easy for me is believing that other gods exist, immortals given form thanks to the power of collective belief American Gods style. Faith that magic exists is also a no-effort thing for me, because I think that there has to be something untraceably physical that lets us form thoughts at all, and whatever it is benefits from more and different pathways through our brains.

I need faith. I have faith. I am a woman of faith.

Real faith is not a burden. It just is, like the star and sky and sea. Not everyone needs faith, that “that is,” and I think there is some human distribution thing that prevents people from all having it. I think there is a profound, balance to nature reason that the world needs its atheists and agnostics, that they have a very important place in the universe, and sometimes I envy them since I don’t have the privilege of being one.

I think faith has been coopted by the same people that use “S/he’s religious,” as shorthand for saying “s/he is a conservative Christian who expects everyone else to conform to his/her sensitivities and ego needs.”

I am, as I have said before, very religious. I am just not Christian.

I am a woman of faith. I am just not a Christian woman of faith.

Christians aren’t the only people that inherited faith. That belongs to anyone that faith fits – not just who a group of egoists decide they want in their club.

Do I have faith right now?

Yes – I do have a sense of a divine intelligence. But purpose? Maybe not. I am a priestess and of late I am exhausted by the sense of relentless obligation, often without relief and support, that I suspect besets all women.

Do I think they’re about me – no. What about me says “drop her in the most expensive city in the country?” The intelligence is not looking to my good, or remotely concerned with it.

And I just gotta ride that shit out.

I have faith that something will change because change is oddly reliable.