Leap of Faith

Leap of Faith

Karen Hall writes a reaction to a story in the L.A. Times by a reporter who lost his faith over the sex-abuse scandal. I haven’t read the article she refers to yet; but Karen’s response struck a chord and I think is worth passing on:

One of the truths I own by virtue of having earned it the hard way is that the necessary leap of faith is a choice.  And for me, it is a choice that has to be made not once, but constantly.  Sometimes every day, sometimes every minute, depending on what’s in front of me at any given time.  Sometimes that choice begins or ends with the kind of warm fuzzy glow the writer describes in the article, but my personal experience has been that this is not often the case.  Most of the time, it’s just a cold, hard choice.

If the writer goes far enough down his current path, he’ll probably discover, as I did, that when all else is stripped away, the choice comes down to a pretty simple one:  hope or no hope?  At that point, it really doesn’t matter if 99 percent of the priests on the planet are pedophiles.  It doesn’t matter whether or not the DA ever gets the key to Mahony’s filing cabinet.  I don’t know how it translates to other people of other faiths, or even to Christians who aren’t Catholic, but for me, it comes down to this:  Was Jesus who he said he was?  Did he, or did he not, found something he called the Church?  Did he, or did he not, proclaim that the gates of hell would not prevail against it?  If the answer to those three questions is yes, then everything else is irrelevant.

And the “leap of faith” is not a “gift” that God deigns to give to some people but not to others.  It’s a choice that He gives to everyone.  If the choice always came with the warm fuzzy glow, there would be no such thing as faith, since it would be unnecessary.

Understanding the choice is vitally important these days, because most people don’t have a theology that explains the things they read in the papers.  The same priests who have not been protecting the children have also not been explaining the value of suffering or the work of the devil or what is at stake if you choose to chuck the whole thing because it’s just too illogical or too painful or simply too much work.  They don’t explain the things about which they are in denial themselves, and so they leave the Faithful working without a net.  Consequently, many of them don’t survive the fall.

It’s all incredibly complicated and at the same time, frighteningly simple.  Strip away all the garbage and make the choice.  And be prepared to make it again, and again, and again…

Contemporary American culture lacks a basic understanding of what faith is, what love is. We’ve substituted feeling for thinking, emotions for ideas. And thus we think both faith and love are warm, squishy feelings. They aren’t. They are choices. They are actions.

I’ve learned that being a parent isn’t all happy giggly babies blowing raspberries. It’s also getting up at 4 am when you are dead tired to tend a screaming, writhing baby who will not be consoled. And marriage isn’t all moonlit walks on the beach. It’s hard work and compromise. Love, like faith, requires making a choice, every day, every hour, every minute to do the right thing.

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1 comment
  • I have shared the experience teaching, and no some of what you are talking about.  I ended up teaching to those who wanted the education – and I was not afraid to hand out poor grades.

    I have also found that the academy has a share in the blame too.  I found that because of my passion, my students would be passionate (at least more of them).  It wasn’t entertainment – it was caring.  It is hard to find professors who cares.  The magic happens, of course, when both teachers and students care about what they are learning.

    Of course, the process would work much better if students would trust the authority of the professors.  But isn’t that what the academy (especially the liberal arts and social sciences) have sought to undermine for the past 40 years?  But if you question everything, all you have are questions and no answers.  Which leads to suspension of judgment and apathy.  But now I am rambling. smile

    Nice post.