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31 August 2004 @ 09:31 am
The need for faith?  
What is the basic difference between people who have religion and those who don't? Are some driven by a need to have faith, a need to believe in a higher power that holds the ultimate authority?

Personal responsibility versus predestination? When watching the Olympic coverage there was a sharp delineation between those athletes who ascribed their successes or failures to a god ('It wasn't God's will that I win this race' or 'My victory was due to God') and those who talked about things in terms of themselves ('There's no one to blame for my failure but myself. I just didn't come through.')

What benefit is there to 'it's (insert name of god(dess) here)'s will'?

Does any god really favor one team over another? One country over another?

I have never 'needed' to have religion. I was raised a good Roman Catholic schoolgirl, complete with penguins, plaid uniform skirts, and mass every day, so I'm more than passingly familiar with seriously organized religion and the crucial place that it holds in some people's lives. Mom also made sure that we were exposed to a variety of other religions on a regular basis so that we would have a better understanding of others. But I have never experienced the overwhelming *need* to have faith, there is no religion-sized hole for me to fill.

So what's the *real* point of faith and religion for an individual. Where does that internal need come from?

Random thoughts I had while trying to fall asleep last night.

-the redhead-
Ferretferret on August 31st, 2004 09:48 am (UTC)
Without entering into a long theological discussion - I think you summed it up with actually, a question line.

The Real point of faith and religion is for an individual to decide. To some, it is a crutch. Others, its something comforting. To others, its just the "way things are". And to others, its a Joy.

Likewise, the lack of faith hits the same for many different people. To some, the lack of faith is a "crutch" with the same zealot fervor that the most devout (insert religion here)expresses. To others, its comforting for each individual to be just that. And to others, its plain joyous.

Dang, I rambled on saying not much of anything.

Back to your regularly scheduled LJ.

Abby Franquemonthuaman on August 31st, 2004 10:57 am (UTC)
I was thinking about this last night as well, because my mom has asked me to think about what I want to have happen at an Episcopalian church-based memorial service for my late father. And the problem for me is... though in fact it was my father who guided me through all the 'thinking about religion' stuff that I did growing up, when you get right down to it, I just don't have a strong association between church and religion and so forth, and my dad. He was raised a southern Baptist, but we were a pretty non-religious family while I was growing up. Except, of course, in that much of the growing up was in Latin America, where Catholicism is inseparable from the culture at large. But that's there, and not here.

And then too, about 10 days ago I got a short email from my grandmother -- my dad's mom -- who was the daughter of Baptist missionaries, raised in Brazil, and whose faith was renewed when she had cancer some 30 or 40 years ago (she credits her renewed faith with saving her life). She states that my father's death has caused her to doubt her faith.

Like you, I have never felt an overwhelming need for faith in the way that has been described to me by some people -- my grandmother included, when she has spoken to me in the past of needing a helping hand during those difficult times in her life. But at the same time, I do feel that organized religion can in many cases provide a strong and valuable community. I would recommend it to my little sister, the single mom, for example. But that's community moreso than faith.

One tool that my father got from growing up Baptist, and that he passed on to me, was about the power of song -- to get you through hard work, to help with sorrow, to celebrate. But again, in many ways, that has little to do with actual faith.

I do not know that I have ever had religious faith -- or ever really felt the lack of it. I have perhaps wished at times that things were easier, or that I had help -- but an inspirational "Footsteps" plaque wouldn't help.

The one faith that I really do have, which defies logic, is a core faith in the goodness of human beings. I truly believe -- even in the face of evidence which would seem to contradict this -- that most human beings are fundamentally good and guided by some variant of the Golden Rule. And that, I definitely think that I need to believe, because without believing that, the world really is a bleak and nasty place.