What is "Faith"? The Real and the Phony

The LiveReal Quiz: Can You Take It?

article by LiveReal Agent Mary

we all hear about it,
have it in various things,
have it in various degrees,
are often told we should get more of it,
- but to ask a really basic question . . .
what is it?

What Is "Faith"?

(multiple choice format)

A) It is "The substance of things hoped for, the evidence for things unseen."

B) It is another way of saying that you have no proof.

C) It is an act of imagining the way we wish things actually were, and stubbornly insisting that it is that way, regardless of any amount of evidence to the contrary.

D) It is the effort to try to make yourself believe in something you really don't.

E) It is a concept of something that people resort to when they suffer or get themselves into trouble.

F) Whatever it is, if you have it, you'll be OK; and if you don't have it, you're in for a lot of pain and suffering.

G) An emotional state of conviction manufactured by emotional speakers at lectures, rallies, revivals, and crusades; in other words, it is the result of a successful sales pitch from a charismatic figure.

H) If you have it, you walk on water successfully; if you don't have it, you sink, and are scolded for not having more of it.

I) Ambrose Bierce: "Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel."

J) An inner state of connection with one's being and essence.

K) It is a polite way of saying "Please shut up, and stop asking me questions I don't have the answers to."

L) It is a deep inner state of being which gives one a profound and unshakable trust in life.

M) H. L. Mencken: "An illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable."

N) A state of confidence which tends to be shattered by inevitable tragedies.

O) An inner type of "knowing, without knowing how you know."

P) Something alternately encouraged and destroyed by various spiritual leaders.

Q) A claim that one believes in miracles.

R) A weapon of defense against not-knowing; also a philosophical trump-card one pulls as a means of telling folks who are asking difficult, complex, or disturbing questions to basically shut up.

S) Something called up when faced with a question or situation that one does not understand or cannot solve, which in normal circumstances, enables one to easily rationalize one's failing to put forth any effort to understand, or even attempt to understand even the problem, much less the solution, and so enabling one to relax into a comfortable security of believing that high-ranking spiritual figures are on your side in doing so.

T) It is an word that describes a process of insisting that you believe in a statement, phrase, or position, and refusing under any conditions to consider, question, or doubt anything contrary to it.

U) A type of business deal, or the loyalty a worker shows to his boss: if you say you have it and convince your boss of it, you will be rewarded; if you say you don't have it (or fail to convince your boss you do), you will be punished.

V) The natural state of the human heart, when it is not in the grip of fear, anger, shame, confusion, anxiety, depression, neurosis, or selfishness.

W) " The ability to hang on to what your reason has previously accepted as true, despite changing moods and conditions; the inner stamina for a moment of clarity to persevere despite pressure to fold." - C. S. Lewis

X) Another word for "inner strength."

Y) An intuition that there is an Answer to The Problem of Life.

Z) Something that is preserved through avoiding, dodging, and hiding from doubting, thinking, and objective analysis.

AA) Something that is arrived at after an intense period of doubting, thinking, and objective analysis.

BB) "I'd rather have 'faith' in something and be wrong than have 'faith' in nothing at all!" - from the campy schlock television B-film disaster movie "10.5" (so 'faith' ain't perfect, the argument goes, but at least it's better than nihilism...)

CC) It is the ability and willingness to completely face the unknown with perfect serenity.

DD) It is something that is place in a minister, a priest, a person, a book, a phrase, a rumor, a promise, an idea, or God.

EE) It is insisting, despite any evidence to the contrary, that bad things do not happen. Or, if they happen, they do not happen to good people. Or, if they do happen to good people, they do not happen to me.

FF) It is another word for "denial."

GG) It is the opposite of denial: it is a direct awareness and remembrance of the true, actual, real state of things, even when that awareness sometimes gets clouded and foggy.

HH) "Until God has taken possession of him, no human being can have faith, but only simple belief; and it hardly matters whether or not he has such a belief, because he will arrive at faith equally well through disbelief." - Simone Weil

II) "There is a difference between one and another hour of life, in their authority and subsequent effect. Our faith comes in moments; our vice is habitual. Yet there is a depth in those brief moments which constrains us to ascribe more reality to them than to all other experiences." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

JJ) An inner state of something similar to "confidence," something akin to an unshakeable state of being, which does not crumble, no matter what happens.

KK) "...She didn't need to think about the answer to my question How come you haven't got bits of glass? She'd had it ready for a long time, simply waiting for the right moment to deliver it. She didn't make a fuss about delivering it, either: 'Oh, 'cos I ain't frightened.' Now, that's probably the most missable sentence that can be uttered. Missable because that's what it's all about. Missable because it is too damned expensive. Missable because the price of not being frightened is trust. And what a word that is! Define it how you like, and I'll bet you'll miss the main point! It's more than confidence, more than security; it doesn't belong to ignorance, or for that matter, to knowledge either. It is simply the ability to move out the 'I'm the center of all things' and to let something or someone take over." - Anna and Fynn

LL) Something you're supposed to have in "God".

MM) Something you're supposed to have in "yourself".

NN) "...it is not the intellectual knowledge of the Greek. It is not the kind of knowledge that man can have through reason alone, or perhaps not through reason at all; he has it rather though body and blood, bones and bowels, through trust and anger and confusion and love and fear; through his passionate adhesion in faith to the Being whom he can never intellectually know. This kind of knowledge a man has only though living, not reasoning, and perhaps in the end he cannot even say what it is he knows; yet it is knowledge all the same..." - William Barrett

OO) "I discovered later, and I am still discovering right up to this moment, that it is only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith. By this-worldliness I mean living unreservedly in lifes' duties, problems, successes and failures. In so doing, we throw ourselves completely into the arms of God. Taking seriously, not our own sufferings, but those of God in the world. That, I think, is faith." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

PP) "When you question people about their faith, a great many will tell you that they believe in 'someone' or 'something', but they are unable to say exactly whom or what. Their intuition tells them that they once knew and experienced something, and occasionally, like a brief flash of light from the depths of time, that knowledge and those experiences rise to the surface of their consciousness. They do not know why this impression is so compelling, but they cannot doubt its reality.
At one moment or another in their lives, human beings sense that they are linked to a higher, mysterious world which has left its mark within them. The difference between them is that some let this feeling fade without attempting to examine it more closely or reflect on what it might mean, whereas for others it is the starting point of an inner quest that leads them to the Divinity." - Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov

QQ) "The great believers have been the unwearied waiters." - Anonymous

RR) None of the above.

SS) All of the above.

TT) Some of the above.

UU) Other _______________________________

Your Answer: ________.

When you finish your quiz, please pass your papers to the front.

(Please note:
You will probably be graded, but may not be;
we're not sure when or even if you'll find out what your grade;
and we might know who will or won't be grading your papers, but then again, we may be wrong.)

Appendix: "Stages of Faith"

"Are you familiar with James Fowler? He's the expert on the stages of faith development. I simplify them a bit. Jim's theory has six stages; mine has four.
The fundamental stage, one I call "chaotic antisocial," is a stage of absent spirituality.
The second stage is "formal institutional," in which the fundamentalists fall.
Stage three I call "skeptic individual," where religion is either thrown out or seriously doubted.
And then there is stage four, which I call "mystical communal."
To get from stage two to stage four - if you can in a lifetime - you must go through stage three. You have to go through a phase of doubting. One of the great sins of the Christian church is the discouragement of doubting. There's a limit to doubting. If you become really good at stage-three doubting, you begin to doubt your own doubts. And that's when you begin to move to stage four."
- M. Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled

And from here...

If you're really interested in digging in to this question...

So, if "faith" is something desirable, that can be built and strengthened . . . how?

Or if the really interesting, juicy parts of "faith" really comes down to faith in "God" . . . well, what is "God"?

And how is it possible to guard against the possibility of putting "faith" in the wrong things?

Stay tuned...

“If you would be
a real seeker after truth,
it is necessary that at least once in your life
you doubt,
as far as possible,
all things.”
– Rene Descartes

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