Showing posts with label belief. Show all posts
Showing posts with label belief. Show all posts

Monday, December 12, 2011

What do you Believe?

For some strange reason this phrase keeps grabbing my attention. I suppose it goes back to my Christian days, when the constant question was "Do you believe in Jesus?" After awhile, that question began to really bug me. If by believe, we mean, do we accept the existence of Jesus? For most Christians, that would be "yes, of course". But so what? It was never believing in Jesus that was the issue, but accepting him as your Lord and Savior, yada yada yada, and so on.

What is interesting is the play between the words "trust", "belief", "conviction", and "know" . Reading between a Webster's dictionary and an Oxfords, these are all used to define each other. In my fundamentalist days, much was made about "knowing the facts of the bible" as opposed to "believing the truth of the bible". Even after I moved on, I kept those distinctions, as if they really were separate concepts. Now I am not so sure. Can we really make a division between an intellectual acceptance of a fact, and having a heartfelt "conviction" that something is true? I suppose because much is made about faith, the people of faith, the people of THE faith. To believe in something without any evidence is supposed to carry some superior moral force with it, and make one's life so much the richer for it. That doesn't make much sense to me. It is surely a fact I don't believe in.

It seems, rather, to be all one thing bundled up together, all one idea being expressed a dozen different ways. I suppose when people ask, "do you believe in Jesus?" what is being asked is, "do you trust in Jesus", "do you have faith in Jesus", and that even if you merely accept the "facts" of Jesus, it is the same thing. Does the English tongue allow us to accept facts without trusting in them. It doesn't seem so. It seems when one believes in a fact, they also trust it. So the question should be "do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Annointed One of God, the Savior of your Soul, and so on." The usual formulation "do you believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior?" could also be stated, "do you trust in Jesus as your Lord, and Savior?"  If one accepts that as fact, they are also trusting in Jesus as their Lord, and as their Savior (from Hell, I think). To simply ask "do you believe in Jesus?" means, "do I trust Jesus?" I could possibly trust Jesus, but in a different manner, or role, other than Lord and Savior.

Belief can be a touch thing in this world of faith religions. People of faith demand you believe in something not seen, evidence lacking. How can someone trust something not seen, felt, touched, heard, acted upon, and so on? Plus there is more than one faith, all of whom they accuse their rivals of being unbelievers. That is so right. But why is that such a sin? How is one to know the unknowable, to have this wonderful faith? Is it not a gift?
Why am I scorned for not having this gift? Indeed.

What is even more curious is that after leaving Christianity, and all these religions of faith, of which I include Buddhism, I have lived even more by faith than my religious friends and family. They have a book to tell them what to do, what to think. They have a book to tell them all about their object of faith, of which their is no evidence, no direct contact by any one living. I have no book but the book of my heart, my mind, and my spirit. I have nothing but the world about me, and myself to guide me, to inform me, to nurture me. The traditions of my people erased by the conquering Romans, first by the sword, then by the book, as the christian clergy destroyed the collected traditions of the Germanic and Celtic peoples. Lacking the traditions of my priests, the rituals of my forefathers, I must enter the forest in great faith, humbleness, and patience: listening in whispered wind in branches, in the twittering of birds, the babbling of brook, in rain drops upon green leaf for the wise words of my ancestors, my people, and my gods. But I do believe in them, I trust their guidance and their intents. I have faith, but not much else.

It is a curiosity that belief is often defined as having strong conviction. The people of my christian past would often talk of having conviction. A quick check of the meaning in my Webster's reveals the latin root meaning conquest. Now that's really interesting. A Freudian slip, perhaps?

I do believe sleep in calling to me. Next time the Muse sings, I'll be here...