Michael Battalio

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Annual Christmas E-mail

While I'm at home I get a chance to catch a random five minutes of NPR here and there during my drive to and from work. (Go ahead and laugh, I like NPR.) On Monday mornings the news features a spot during the time I usually leave the house called "This I Believe." It's a short essay written by a different person each week in which they describe what it is they find fundamental to their existence, and one doesn't often get the usual answer. On my way to work last Monday (the 18th) the segment featured a Franciscan priest. He had an intriguing statement about faith. I'll do my best to summarize:

Faith is a mystery. Our definition of faith is the opposite of what it is supposed to be. Scientists can deal with the existence of black holes and a principle that demands we not be certain of most things going on in the universe, but those with contemporary faith assert that we must know everything beyond any veil of uncertainty. People of that faith demand closure and clarity, but those who possess real faith are the ones that can accept ambiguity and paradox.
The people who know Holiness are the most humble, and those who don't know try the hardest to show that they are humble. The ones who have come to terms with the mystery are the ones that can say they honestly don't know, but the ones who haven't are the ones who pretend to know everything (remind you of anyone you know)

How amazingly astute and true all of that is. Isn't that the definition of faith, to believe when there is no proof? For the longest time, I had difficulty dealing with that. Why have reason when I shouldn't use it? Faith should serve my every need. I got past this obstacle with a metaphor. Faith and reason are the shoes on my feet. I'll get a lot further with both than I'll ever get with just one or the other alone.

Reason is what makes us human, but faith is what gives us our humanity.

I don't get much more stream of consciousness than that thankfully. Enjoy the season, appreciate the little things, and take the time to give yourself some credit for making it as far as you have.

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