Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Blind Man's Take On Blind Faith


Well, it's been a while hasn't it? First of all, I'd like to apologize for the length of time between my last post and this one. Spring time at my normal place of employment is a busy time of year and I just finished wrapping up a good deal of overtime. With that behind me though, I an now ready to resume my writing with something I've been thinking about quite a bit for the past few weeks. As I continue down my own personal path of Spirituality, I am finding it more of a need to bite my tongue on some issues as to not step on the beliefs of others.

What I'd like to talk about in regards to this conflict is the particular urge I get to beg and plead with people to not use blind faith as a major decision making factor in their lives. This is an ideal I was even passionate about in my Christian ministry at least to a certain degree. On other levels, I would have done well to take my own advice back then but anyway, I have always felt that total and complete blind faith without something I like to call common sense is responsible for a lot of bad things in life.

Recently, someone I know went through some medical troubles and in fact still is going through them. The question of whether or not the doctor this person is seeing is competent or not came up and my friend was questioning whether or not they should get a second opinion. I of course was all for it because the more I listened the more I believed that this doctor wasn't someone I'd trust 100% without a second opinion.

In the end though, my well natured and good intended Christian friend decided that they were going to go back to this doctor and "trust God to guide his hands." for the procedure that this person needs to have done. Trying my best to not protest so strongly as to scare the poor person, I strongly urged them to seek the second opinion for the simple reason that in cases of major surgery it's always good to have one. I'm not sure how that situation turned out yet, I'm hopeful though that my friend considered my advice.

The trouble is that people of faith hear things like that all of the time. "Just have faith and God will take care of the rest." which is well and good in principle but leaves something to be desired in practice I think. I used to get around this in the past by simply telling people to pray about it and I didn't understand fully at the time but it was the most sound advice I could have given anyone regarding life changing decisions. When we slow ourselves down into a state of deep contemplation, more often than not, we will give ourselves the right solution to a problem.

At some point however, well intended people get caught up in the people behind the pulpits screaming at them that they don't have enough faith, that's why bad things are happening to them, that's why they aren't where they want to be in life, that's why they're poor and that's why they're *still* sick after years and years. Because they aren't fully trusting God or because their faith isn't strong enough, these people become so frustrated and desperate to do "right" that they determine the only true way to have faith in God is to throw common sense to the wind and stumble ahead blindly making decisions based on crude faith based mentalities at best.

So, the question we must ask ourselves is how does this line of thinking get so driven into the minds of intelligent people? Because, the business of religion is very good at what it does. Christianity in particular has had at least 2,000 years to perfect the trade and it really works because religion has become an expert in playing on our human side, our emotions, our desire to be a part of something bigger than we are, to make a difference, and to be accepted and affirmed.

We get reeled in by the testimonies of the damned who have seen the light and changed their lives, we get dazzled by the miracles of healing people go through fake and real cases alike, we hear the stories of success and elation at how God has provided for people and when we hear all of these wondrous it any wonder we can't help but want that kind of experience in our own lives? Of course not, we're human. Most of us have a deep desire, a need even, for those types of experiences and the vast majority of us hunger for that so much that we will believe most anything to get it.

One of my favorite movie lines in the world is from "The American President" which says "People are so thirsty for leadership that they'll crawl through the desert for it and when they discover there's no water they'll drink the sand." to which the President responds "People don't drink the sand because they're thirsty, they drink the sand because they don't know the difference." and in this case, a little bit of both is true. People are thirsty for their spiritual lives to be full and healthy to the point that they will swallow anything that initially reels them in and can hardly ever tell the difference between what is real spirituality and what is bologna.

What I don't hear a lot of these religious groups doing is talking about the failures of their faith. I don't mean the people who have "backslidden" from a life of grace into a life of sin or anything like that. I mean the real tragedies, the ones that cost people their lives or families. I can't help but use the gay and lesbian community as an example because it's where I have been most active in the last ten years and I can tell you that people have been left at the wayside where spirituality is concerned. I don't just mean the GLBT people themselves, but the lives of those around them. If that kind of falling short is so common in one niche of a spiritually seeking population, how much more so exists in the population at large?

Finally, to bring home this point, there's me. I have got to be religions ultimate failure. I am the gay blind man who fell from grace. Now, I don't usually make it a habit to talk about my vision a lot in relation to my spirituality because secretly, I've always been curious about it and during my ministry days, scared by it. You see, to a young rising star in the southern baptist church, who was as sincere as one could be in his Christian faith, the thought of divine healing was always in the back of my mind. As time wore on and that didn't happen though, it made me question my faith and it's strength. I have been legally blind since birth and although I would never show it, I go through yearning spells just like anyone else with a disability does, to be cured.

I don't say that to gain sympathy but to inform. I have of course since realized that my vision like my sexual orientation, is just something I was born with. What's more, I've come to realize that these are both strengths in me, not weaknesses. It took me the better part of the last ten years to get to this point and that's with more trials and tribulation than I can possibly have ever imagined ten years could hold. That's just me, one single human being in a mass of billions....imagine how hard coming to this kind of clarity must be on a planetary scale when a lot of it has to be done within one's self, on their own. How many truly have the strength to quench their own thirst for spiritual growth?

This is why awakening to the real facts of the universe is so important and the most important fact we can learn about it is that we know a lot less than we're willing to admit as a race. No, one individual doesn't always have the ability to quench their own spiritual thirst initially, I know I didn't. The importance of coming together has never been clearer in my mind where this is concerned and reaching within ourselves for direction, not stumbling ahead blindly into the future hoping that God makes the right decisions for us.

Existence is an amazing thing, all life is wondrous but try to keep in mind that usually, amazing and wondrous things are almost never 100% good or 100% bad 100% of the time and are rarely ever safe. Miracles, disasters, struggles, pains, disabilities, what are they but simply part of the wondrous experience that is being alive? Try to keep this in mind when you find yourself tempted to be moved by the stories and testimonies of the faithful and/or when you yourself are tempted to tell such a story. And, my friends, try to use all of these insights to help you make your own spiritual decisions to help you live your life to it's fullest. Please don't fall into the trap of molding your life to help you live more spiritually.

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