Faith: Religious coinage?

I am wondering if I didn’t grow up in a world that essentially turned things like faith, hope, grace and truth into items of transaction–almost a religious capitalism.

Each of these words, in my experience, becomes a sort of quid pro quo. They are externalized.  They become the special language of religion that tells us how to define them.  Those definitions often imply or directly indicate that if we hold faith (hope, truth, grace) in the proper way, we stand to receive something for that correct stance.

Have faith in Jesus, don’t go to hell.  Hope in God, things turn out okay.  Depend on grace and you will be forgiven.  Tell the truth (confess your sins) and well . . . you still won’t go to hell.

There’s a sense in which all of those words begin to blur into the same sort of religious coinage, owned and operated by external systems.  If we hold them as such, they continually distract us to some external motivation, a religious capitalism, a religious behaviorism.  That is the kind of meaning these words can hold for us human beings, but they don’t have to.

What if we consider faith (and hope, grace and truth) them as internal states that have always been inherent to who we are as human beings?  Don’t they then begin to help us make sense of things in a much different way?

Bob Patrick

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4 Responses to Faith: Religious coinage?

  1. Barbara says:

    One of the foundations of capitalism? You do this and to will get this greater and greater thing from God. I wonder though if or is not just human ego taking our inner voice, our god, and turning it into the bigger and grander God. Maybe we as humans need to have the excuse to not listen to our inner voice, god, and understand that our inner voice is sometimes hard to hear, then we seek redemption for not living by that voice or for the assistance to understand that voice.

    My responce ended in a much different place than where I started or thought that I would end up.

    Where I really end up is my god (inner voice) is not transactional, and my God (voice of my community including my voice) is working to not be transactional as is the call from my inner god.

  2. Denise Benshoof says:

    Thank you, Bob. I often hear, when I tell the story of our family’s pain over the past few years, that I don’t need to worry about my future, God will bring me untold blessings for being such a good daughter. I understand that it’s a message of support, but I don’t take care of my family to get more blessed “by God,” especially after I’m dead. I took care of them because they needed it, and wanted me to do it. Dad still wants me there no matter how much grouses about it. And I want to do it, to a point. I take care of them because I want to continue and improve my relationships with them, others I care about, and myself. That’s the transaction. The blessings are in knowing my parents were as safe as I could make them, and as I am able to make my Dad, and that my strength is growing through the experiences with them. There is fear and sadness and complexity, but there’s also love, kindness, hugs, gratitude, and shared memories. Those are the blessings worth working for.

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