Thursday, August 24, 2017

Tests Of Faith

     This morning, we have a quiet cri de coeur from Stephen Kruiser:

     Mine is a life that hasn't exactly been fraught with tragedy. It has, however, known a fair amount of financial and personal struggle throughout the years. If the rough patches on one's journey are tests, I feel as if I should have multiple graduate degrees in Getting Over It Already.

     Whenever anything gets too ridiculous, I have relied on a triple-tiered, unwavering support network of family, amazing friends, and faith.

     In the past few months, the faith wavered. That's not wholly accurate: it disappeared.

     Kruiser is a lifelong Catholic who has always valued his faith, which makes the sense that it has deserted him particularly painful. The article is eminently worth reading in its entirety, but I’m going to skip to the end:

     The map to the path back to God is probably right in front of me.

     I am just going to need to look harder.

     The comments section is the usual mix of blather, including quite a bit of anti-Catholicism, but that’s of no real moment.

     Everyone has crises of faith, because faith is a much wider category of ideation than most persons imagine. Concisely: Let Proposition X be a statement that, in the nature of things, can neither be proved nor disproved. If you believe Proposition X even so, you have faith in it. This is of special significance if you choose to conform or constrain your behavior in light of Proposition X.

     Mind you, Proposition X cannot be a statement about the past. Statements about the past are either factual or counterfactual – correct or incorrect – right or wrong. Statements about the future, or about conditions that cannot be verified or falsified, are the ones that matter. Consider, for example, Job’s statement before his neighbors:

     For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God. [Job 19:25-26]

     That’s plainly a statement of faith. (Whether the story is fact or fiction is immaterial.)

     We have “secular” faith in many things: in people; in our relationships; in the soundness of our methods for pursuing what we want; and perhaps most important of all, in the value of our own lives and labors. It’s in the nature of such convictions that they will be tested... and that some of those convictions will fail their tests. Everyone is let down in some fashion, by someone or something, at some time in his life.

     Some hold (as a matter of faith) that God determines what the tests will be. I’m on the negative side of that one. God does not wield the “police power” under the veil of Time. He has decreed the laws of this universe and set us free to cope with them. We are subject to them despite our severest strivings to set them at naught. It is those laws that provide our tests:

  • By obstructing our progress toward what we want;
  • By placing us in competition or opposition to others with contrasting aims;
  • By denying us absolute latitude and infinite time to make our decisions and practice our methods.

     Much of this is summed up in a fatalistic way by the old maxim “Shit happens.” Indeed it does...but the regularity behind it should tell us a great deal more than most of us dare to infer.

     Before we proceed, have a few of the recognized faiths’ takes on “Shit happens.”

  • Catholics: If shit happens, we deserve it.
  • Protestants: Let this shit happen to someone else.
  • Jews: Why does this shit always happen to us?
  • Muslims: Let’s do some shit to those dirty infidels.
  • Buddhists: What is the sound of shit happening?
  • Rastafarians: Let’s roll this shit up and smoke it!
  • Solipsists: There is no shit.
  • Atheists: You theists are full of shit and you know it.

     These, too, are useful encapsulations. You might want to write them down.

     I’m reasonably sure Stephen Kruiser will regain his faith. His article speaks of a support system most of us don’t enjoy in its fullest extent. The point of this brief piece is otherwise:

Like Shit, Tests Of Faith...Happen.

     Indeed, I’m of the opinion that we should be grateful for them, for they help us to discover what we really believe, as opposed to fictions we maintain only while they’re comfortable.

     Be well, Stephen. I’ll be praying for you.


scttmtclf said...

Fran, please know that as you are praying for Stephen, many of us are praying for you; for your mental and physical well being.

Flyover Pilgrim said...

Orthodox Christians: when shit happens, know it is for the working out of your salvation. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.