November 10–Faith: A Constant Return

Come, come, whoever you are.
Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving.
It doesn’t matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow
a thousand times
Come, yet again, come, come.

On a recent drive that took me out away from metro Atlanta, my radio picked up a rural religious station.  The speaker came through the radio saying:

why don’t people just understand that all they have to do is believe, and they won’t burn in hell forever? It’s just that simple.  Just believe.

I muttered back:  Sure, that’s what you say–it’s so simple, but you have a whole list of things you want to attach to “just believe–it’s so simple.”

Within the space of 30 more seconds, he launched into a tirade about abortion, doctors and nurses who provided abortion, people who supported laws making abortion legal, liberals in general and how we were all going to burn in hell forever.

So much for “just that simple.”

When faith is reduced to content–you must believe these things–it very quickly becomes a tool for abuse and violence against people that we never need to know.  We just need to know that they do not hold the right content.  Burn in hell.

Faith is always really relational.  Faith is a spectrum of what we might call times of faithfulness and times of faithlessness. We are constantly moving on that spectrum as we learn and forget and learn again how to be trustworthy and how to trust in relationships.

With people.  With animals and plants.  With the environment.  With the earth.  With ourselves.  With our gifts.  With what we might call the Divine. With what we might call the path of our lives.

Bob Patrick


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