Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Faith: a poem

"Let go of what you 'know'
and honor what exists.
Son, that's what bearing witness is.
Daughter, that's what bearing witness is."

--David Bazan

Gimme a little wine
and I'll talk to you about Jesus.
When I'm sober, I'm pretty
quiet on the subject.
I am full of fear and trembling.

You know that thing Ghandi
said about Christians,
that he loves Jesus
but doesn't like Christians.
Amen to that. Sometimes.

I am afraid to talk about faith.
I think it was Thomas Merton who said,
"When people try to talk
about faith, their words
are blind lions
looking for springs of water
in the desert."
Amen to that too.

To paraphrase Kierkegaard,
for most people "of faith,"
faith comes way to easily.
For me it is really really hard.

I mean, seriously,
how can someone believe in God
in a world of genocide
and Wal-Mart and
clinical depression
and cancer and death?
How can someone who has
known chronic pain
even begin to think about
the idea that God is love?
How indeed.

The thing that pisses me off
about a lot of Christians is that
faith is equated with knowledge.
They claim to 'know' the Truth.
Listen up, you don't know shit.
No one does.

Whenever I see a Christian
living comfortably in a surburban
house, driving an expensive car,
working some corporate job,
going on cruises, eating expensive
dinners, I think:
What the fuck do you know about Jesus?

The problem as I see it is this:
most Christians put their hopes
in the afterlife, in heaven.
But what is heaven?
Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven is within"
and "The kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Meaning it is here, now, in this life.
What we do in this life is just as
important, probably more important,
than what we will do in that
unknowable realm of the afterlife.

Whenever someone asks me
if I am a Christian,
I usually say:
"I am something between
a Christian and an agnostic."
It is the most honest answer
I can give.

I don't know.
But I have faith.
For this reason,
I feel super uncomfortable
in most churches.
People at church
don't want to hear
about uncertainty.
They want knowledge,
They want comfort.

For me, faith is discomfort.
It is not knowing,
It is fear and trembling.
It is blind lions.


  1. So, did it take a little wine to type this out?

  2. Thanks for sharing this, bro. Really tough stuff to write about, much less to share. A couple of quick observations. First, I think Gandhi's quote was not about disliking Christians. It was an observation that often Christians are unlike Christ. Second, if you want to talk to someone who has experienced chronic pain and still can think of God as love, you can talk to Christine some time. Or you can read A Grief Observed by CS Lewis. He does a good job of working through it. And that will be the only time I ever recommend a CS Lewis book. Keep writing, Jesse.

  3. This is incredibly open and courageous. I am haunted by your words, and find myself floating amongst them. I am at once angry, hurt, sad, and thrusting my fist into the air yelling, "Right on!". Wealth is not evil, but I can see how you would believe it to be contradictory to living out a Christian faith, but those conversations are best over alcohol! Thank you for sharing!

  4. Great stuff. I now go to a church that has a sign on the street that says, "No Perfect People Allowed." The pastor is a recovering gambling addict and the people are a lot like me. It's a big relief for me.

  5. Brave and thought provoking.

    But let me ask you this, how do you know "no one does"? You are a devout skeptic, no?

  6. @Mark: I have a rebuttal to your post and then a rebuttal to my rebuttal:

    There is no empirical and repeatable evidence of God's existence so that in of itself is the lack of proof needed.

    'gnosis' is relative...ask a sophist and a meta-physicist and you will get two different answers. If God = knowledge and knowledge is relative then God is relative.


  7. annaliese, Yes... if knowledge depends on faith. But this doesn't invalidate all knowledge. If it did, how would you know this? Certainly someone knows something.