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Faith

The confident belief or trust in the truth or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.

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The Power of Faith, Belief and Trust

  • Dec 29, 2009
Rating:
+4
Faith is powerful.  Don't let anyone tell you any different.  Faith has the power to go above and beyond our own knowledge.  It isn't just a tool most of us use to justify our beliefs.  Sometimes it is used to justify our own wrongs and make them right.  Faith has the ability to influence us to do right, and the ability to influence us to do wrong.  The ability to accept.  The ability to deny.  Almost everything we do in life, at some point, requires us to have a little Faith.

We use Faith for small decisions in life.  Do you go to one car dealership or the other?  Both have the chance of selling you a lemon but perhaps your faith in one dealership to be honest is greater than that of the other dealer.  Some of you who read my work have Faith that what I'm telling you is true and justified.  "Sean liked Avatar?  I should probably go check it out then!" one might say.

We also use Faith in making larger decisions.  Is there a God?  No matter who you are, Faith is probably one of your biggest deciding factors.  You either have Faith that there is a God or you have Faith there is no God.  Or, in other cases, you just say you don't know and leave it to chance (thus putting your Faith in possibilities). 

Yet Faith is an undeniably powerful thing.  One that has inspired people to do good and one that has inspired people to do bad.  The idea of belief in one's self can be very powerful.  It's why the kid who can only draw stick figures at five may believe he's capable of being the next Da Vinci at twenty.  Or why the high school student who writes stories thinks he might be the next J.K. Rowling.  Faith lets you believe you can.  Of course, Faith has lead to a lot of bad things as well.  Faith is what lead to the 9/11 attacks and what lead to the crusades.  It might be what leads a bank robber to rob a bank or a murder to commit murder (Faith they'll get away with the crime).  

All the logic and reasoning in the world cannot stand up to Faith.  Because when you put someone's beliefs on the line I think you'll find that most anyone is going to be willing to defend them.  Faith is so powerful that sometimes it takes some of us a while to admit that it might've been misplaced.  Let us take the woman who refuses to leave her abusive husband based on Faith alone.  Sometimes it happens and it's terrible that it does.  When she first met him he wasn't like that at all and thus she believes that this abusive strut is something that either she caused, or is a part that isn't him.  Thus she'll go based on the Faith that she deserves it or that it'll pass.  It gets worse, of course.  Say she does leave him and he goes apeshit crazy and then she sees him again and he plays the, "I've changed!" card.  She has no way of knowing right off, she has to have Faith that he has (or that he can).  We put Faith in a marriage and sometimes it doesn't always work out.  We put Faith in our elected officials and sometimes feel betrayed.  Hell, we put Faith in specific News Networks and refuse to believe that what they're telling us could be wrong, even when they clearly are! 

Logic and Reasoning have little meaning in the world of Faith.  Even in the face of absolute proof.  If that were so certain political issues (or just stupid fights with friends) would cease to be big issues.  Take another simple issue.  Gay Marriage.  Look how some will defend to the death the belief that it is a threat to heterosexual marriage even though the places that allow it have seen no threat to heterosexual marriage at all (they actually did a poll... no really, they went to these states and asked straight couples, "Is gay marriage a threat to your own?" I imagine many of the respondents said, "Our state allows gay marriage?").  They haven't proven that it does (haven't even suggested how) but they continue to believe this based more so on the idea that an official told them this.  Of course Faith works just the same otherwise.  In the last election John McCain's age became contenious with people believing that he would surely die before his first term in office was over, as if someone living beyond the age of 80 is unprecedented.  I'm not asking for answers or possibilities here, only to get you to understand that logically it is possible for the opposite of what you believe to be true in those particular cases.

We can even play Faith with our health.  In such a way that even when we know certain things our Faith dictates how we'll behave instead of our own knowledge.  We know, for example, that smoking causes cancer, but when you see someone who lived to be 95 who never suffered from Lung Cancer (and then you learn he was smoking since he was seventeen) then chances are you're apt to believe that you just might be one of those lucky people who could do it as well.  If your parents are skinny as hell, even though they eat whatever they want (as my mother is) you're apt to believe you inherited that genetic trait and therefore you have Faith that by the time you're in your 40's or 50's you'll still be as skinny as you were in your teens and 20's.  Yes, you know eating McDonald's can clog your arteries and make you fat, but your Faith tells you it can't happen to you because it didn't happen to anyone else in your family.  Thus, even with knowledge, logic and reasoning you might still put Faith above it all.

Much of my examples make it seem as though Faith is a bad thing.  But as I said, Faith can be used for a lot of good.  Both personal and selfless.  For example, Faith in ones self just might inspire that five year who can only draw stick figures to be able to do something more (of course, it takes more than just Faith, but having that sort of Faith in yourself is fairly integral).  Faith allows you to doubt the naysayers who are going to work incredibly hard to bring you down in life.  And they will work hard, believe me (they're called critics--and everyone is a critic).  The artist will be beaten up for his work and craft (by people who, in turn, just have Faith that they're smarter) but he continues to do it out of the belief that someone out there might appreciate it.  For some Faith is the only thing they've got to get them out of a bad situation (sometimes referred to as optimism). 

In short, Faith is both good and bad.  It swings like a pendulum in a clock, and affects all of us.  Even for those who claim it to be non-existent or that it is an excuse for the misdeeds in life, are only looking at half the picture, and are also in danger of hypocrisy for not realizing it takes Faith to believe something like that as well.  Faith is not just a system to be used for ones own religious, political and spiritual beliefs, but rather it is a way of life.  It allows us to believe the unbelievable and explain the unexplainable.  As human beings you might say Faith is one of our support systems for life.  We're not here to judge whether or not Faith (specifically Religious or Political) has done more wrong than than good... we're mostly here to discuss how powerful it can be.  How it can help us, and how it can blind us.  How it gives us purpose and how it can give us an excuse not to think.  We can't deny the latter. 

When Faith is used as an excuse not to think that is when it becomes blind.  In other words, Faith becomes blind when you follow it without really considering what it could mean.  Let me put it this way.  Someone can have Faith in becoming a great artist, but he still maintains the idea that it won't "just happen," that he'll have to work at it.  Someone can have Faith in God but will still realize that when he becomes sick he must go to see a Doctor... or when he gets in a car he must still wear a seat belt.  This, you might say, is rational Faith.  Blind Faith, as far as I'm concerned, would be the man who decides to pray to get better and then suddenly dies when he doesn't.  My Grandma is fond of telling me, "God gives you five senses and expects you to use them!"  She's not at all religious, it's just her way of saying that God puts you here, but expects you to take care of yourself while you're at it. 

Blind Faith becomes dangerous, however, when people really do neglect to question why they must do certain things.  I really don't like using this example, but perhaps one of the best out there would be the Nazis, many of whom blindly followed Hitler and did terrible things some of whom later regretted what they did, and others who were simply too scared to stand up when they questioned what it was they were doing.  It doesn't excuse the actions of them in the slightest, but it gives you another understanding of Faith in and of itself.  That some people will use it to blindly follow an authoritative figure without asking any questions.  In other words Blind Faith isn't just going about without thinking... it's going about without questioning either.  It can turn some people into lemmings.  That should not suggest, however, you put Blind Faith in the "Everything is evil and corrupt," side of things either.  Doing so gives birth to people who believe, for example, that Michael Jackson faked his own death and is still alive (seriously, google it)... or that Elvis was abducted by aliens or even that there is a machine someone has made to control the weather.  Yes, those are all things people believe because someone of authority told them things like, "Yes, Michael Jackson is Dead, no Elivs was not abducted by aliens and for the last time there is no machine that controls the weather!" (that Michael Jackson one is HUGE--but in that case I think I'll chalk that up to "People who can't cope with Death"). 

We can sit here and argue whether or not Faith is Good or Bad, but the answers seems to be that it's both.  What I really hope, however, is that people step out of this idea that Faith is synonymous with Religion.  Much of the Faith we exibit in life comes not from our Religious beliefs but from our inability to know anything and our ability to want to know EVERYTHING.  We're a species that has curiosity, and that doesn't like "I don't know," for an answer (or being told we're wrong in other cases).  When that happens sometimes the answer we're given in life--even when it can't be proven--is what some of us need to get by day by day.  

The only thing left to say is that Faith, like so much in life is dependent on the people who utilize it.  Everyone in all walks of life has Faith in something.  Faith in your friends, Faith in yourself, Faith in family or Faith that you'll wake up the next day.  Faith inspires but doesn't act.  We act on our Faith.  It leads us to do good and bad things but I think if you step back you'll see that it is far more significant in your life than you previously thought.

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August 04, 2010
Wonderful review Sean - you brought out many things that make sense to me. Thank you so much for sharing!
 
March 28, 2010
Great review.
 
December 30, 2009
Incredible write up! You and Trashie have pretty much said everything that matters, I 'm not sure as to what else to add but I'll try.
December 30, 2009
I'm really curious as to what you'd put into it.  When I saw this datapoint my first thought was that I'd really like to see a write up from you and perhaps the other Sean.  It's a topic which fascinates me a lot, if only because it's so broad in many ways.
 
December 29, 2009
I found it. Lemming suicide is fiction: http://www.snopes.com/disney/films/lemmings.asp
December 29, 2009
Sorry about the digression from your topic, but I found it very interesting!
 
December 29, 2009
Purely as an aside comment, you mentioned lemmings. I heard that one day Disney was doing an animal documentary film and purposely herded lemmings off a cliff to their deaths -- so lemmings don't really follow each other blindly off a cliff, it was an act to increase ratings! I'll have to find that reference.
December 30, 2009
If you're gonna do that trashie you have to let me in on it.  I am so there!
December 30, 2009
Yeah, Disney's nose is growing. But be kind with the Bash-ometer, OK? The book I read back in college was called "The Disney Version" which sumamrizes what you want to do with your review. You may want to check it out at your library or Amazon.
 
December 29, 2009
Great commentary.  But why three stars?  Reads like a "four" or a "five."  Yeah, I am with Trashie on the Nazis. It's a cliche to use the "Nazi defense" in online blogs, etc., but they sure do fit the bill sometimes. At the Neuremberg (SP) Trials many Nazi party members used the excuse "following orders" to justify their acts. Blind faith, OK. Perhaps similar to devotion, really. Devotion and faith are different stripes of the same animal, I think. Faith in a higher power is fine, as long as it does not usurp individualism or self-determinism. See, now you got ME doing it!
 
December 29, 2009
This is some powerful stuff here, Sean. I love the way you tackled faith and how you weighed out the good and the bad. Faith is such a peculiar and abstract concept. Even those who are self-professed non-religious and non-spiritual types can't help but believe in and feel it, even though they can't visually see it. This review has given me a lot to think about. Thanks for sharing, Sean! :)
 
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Sean A. Rhodes ()
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I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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Wiki

Faith is the confident belief or trust in the truth or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing. The word "faith" can refer to a religion itself or to religion in general. As with "trust", faith involves a concept of future events or outcomes, and is used conversely for a belief "not resting on logical proof or material evidence." Informal usage of the word "faith" can be quite broad, and may be used in place of "trust" or "belief."

Faith is often used in a religious context, as in theology, where it almost universally refers to a trusting belief in a transcendent reality, or else in a Supreme Being and/or this being's role in the order of transcendent, spiritual things.

Faith is in general the persuasion of the mind that a certain statement is true. It is the belief and the assent of the mind to the truth of what is declared by another, based on his or her authority and truthfulness. The English word faith is dated from 1200–50, from the Latin fidem, or fidēs, meaning trust, akin to fīdere, which means to trust.
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