One of the best men I’ve ever known, Mike Baynes, who was a staff member at St. Catherine University when I was there as an undergraduate, picked “Faith” by George Michael. While this isn’t a post about the song…MB is someone who helped me think about faith differently.
I’ve felt compelled to write on the topic of fait for a few weeks now…I think I probably had most of a blog post written as I drove home to celebrate Christmas with my family. Between a conversation with colleagues about privilege around religion and television personalities claiming that Santa and Jesus were white, combined with a rewatching of the final season of the West Wing over the past few months, faith is strongly on my mind.
When I was in my graduate program, I worked on a presentation with a couple of colleagues and what came across to me as especially important was a definition by Fowler (1981), stating that faith is a the way we go about making and maintaining meaning in life. There are amazing people in my life who spend their days sharing the new evangelization as a core of their Catholic practice and work life. On the other hand, I find myself talking with students about their experiences, I see them share faith in so many areas. Each is beautiful.
As I talk with students about struggling through determining what they want to do in life, or exploring relationships with friends and romantic partners, figuring out what works best for them, it’s not always about the area about which they are speaking. More often than not, it is a crisis of faith. The way in which they have always made meaning is no longer working for them. I’ve had moments like this. I imagine most of the world has had these moments.
I guess, right now, I’m pondering this as I wonder how we help support each other’s faith in others, faith in nature, faith in religion, faith in science, and ultimately, how we support one another’s faith. Is there a way for the world to do that better? I see a lot of polarization lately, which doesn’t mean I miss the ways in which I support this polarization. But, in doing so, am I doing things that support others? For this one semester, I want to try and do this. Do more listening than talking. Take time to find out where faith is found and how to work through these crises. And do it without judgment, without insisting my faith practice is the only faith practice, but supporting those who struggling. I don’t think that means I need to minimize my faith practices; instead, I think (and I’m thinking out loud) that these can live in harmony. I’m convinced we can support one another’s faith practices simply by listening more and talking less. Let’s engage in dialogue instead of act as though every conversation is a fight we are trying to win. Let’s make the world a better place.
With some frequency, I ask my colleagues and my students what they are doing to make the world better. This is my goal at the moment. Please join me in making the world a better place.