Damn You, Mustard Seed… These Mountains Just Aren’t Moving!
by Senator Brett
The story goes that there once was a man whose friends loved him so much that when they heard that Jesus was nearby preaching they took it upon themselves to carry their paralyzed friend to Jesus so that he could be healed. And, when they could not reach Jesus, due to the crowd, they made a hole in the roof and lowered their friend to Christ. And, the story says that Jesus was so moved by their faith that he healed the lame man, and the man walked away, carrying his mat.
There are other elements to the story, but the thing that I want to focus on the issue of faith, mostly because I, personally, find it fascinating. Faith, by itself is an incredible thing to me. If I were to be honest with you I would have to admit that faith, true faith, truly confuses me. I don’t understand it wholly (or even “holy”… pun intended!). How can any sane person believe in evidence of things that cannot be seen? How can any rational person possibly invest so much of their heart, mind, body and soul into something, anything, that is so subjective? I don’t get it.
The Bible says that Jesus once said that if we had faith as little as the size of a mustard seed that we could tell a mountain to move and it would move. Uh, okay, I’ll say it… I’m calling “bullshit!” I am. Maybe y’all don’t have the wherewithal (and by “wherewithal” I do mean “balls”) to say it, so I’ll say it. That’s horse manure. Absolute, 100% cow feces.
First of all, I don’t think it’s possible to have so little faith and accomplish so much. I had a little bit of faith that the Houston Texans were going to go to the Superbowl this year. We finished as the worst team in the NFL. (And, yes, I do know that I am not, technically, on the team so I shouldn’t be saying “we”, but let’s be honest… could they have done any worse had I been on the team?!) Suck on that, Mark Brett’s Faith! I had a little bit of faith that I’d be married by now, to a beautiful woman and we’d have three beautiful kids. The last date that I went on was so bad that I was actually praying that the Biblical Rapture would come just so she would shut the hell up. My mustard seed of faith is definitely not doing its job.
Second of all, isn’t it possible that perhaps the Bible, as it was written many years after the supposed events, failed to capture Jesus’ real tone? Perhaps he was just tired of lecturing His disciples on the issue of faith. They seem to fail at it in His eyes throughout all the gospels, so maybe he was just frustrated and was like, “Hey, guys, seriously, we’ve had this talk SO many times. I don’t know how else to explain it to your tiny minds, but I’m telling you that just a little faith can go a long way.” The Bible never says that Jesus was serious all the time.
And, lastly, I’m calling “bullshit” on the whole Mustard Seed Theory because I’ve seen, firsthand, people with incredible faith… blind, dumb, ignorant, just “hell-bent on believing in something despite all odds against it” faith… and it fails them. I’ve seen it over and over, time and again. I’ve seen people who believe that their marriages are going to be strong and based on Biblical principles, and then I’ve just seen them destroyed, and it was not for a lack of faith by that person. No, it was just Life. And, Life has a way of beating Faith almost every time. Perhaps you might say that it was due to lack of faith by the other, but to me? A spouse that doesn’t believe… well, that’s just a very small mountain. And, if what the Bible says is true, then that mountain should have moved because, despite not having it myself, I do recognize true faith hen I see it in others.
Before we go any further I feel like I need to clarify something. When I say “faith” I don’t simply mean the Christian kind. Because there is no such thing as Christian faith, or Muslim faith, or Hindu faith, or even Barney the Dinosaur faith. Those are religions (Well, except for the last one, that’s just an annoying obsession created by kids whose parents need serious counseling and, possibly, a visit from Child Protective Services). No, those are religions. Faith is what brings people to those religions, or rather a byproduct of those religions. I think a lot of people get confused by that fact.
I know that I will get raked across the coals for this analogy, but, in order for us to have an honest conversation about faith, well, we all what it is and where, exactly, it fits into our religion, whatever religion that happens to be. Confusing faith with religion is like confusing the chronic pain, fever, aching, tiredness and weight loss as the actual cancer itself, but they are not so. They are merely symptoms. The cancer exists and causes those things to be in much the same way that your religion exists and causes your faith to be. (Yes, I do know that there are a lot of other analogies that I could have used rather than comparing religion to cancer, but to be honest, I kinda think that for a lot of people the two are not as far apart as they might think. Also, I’m pretty lazy and WebMD.com is a lot easier to use than AnalogyMakerForIdiots.org. Also, if that turns out to be a real web site I’m going to give myself a high-five and eat a brownie.)
I’ve seen people of faith trust and believe, sincerely believe, that God is going to protect their children, only to be let down, most of the time by people within their own religion. I’ve seen mothers whose faith is without contestation just blown over by the wickedness of lesser men, So, my question is… which is stronger? Faith or Evil? And, don’t give me that bullshit answer of, “Well, God has a plan and, us, as humans, can’t always see what it is.” Don’t give me that line. I’m not buying. I’m not buying because the Bible doesn’t say that Jesus said, “For verily I say unto you, if ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed ye shall say unto this mountain, ‘Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove, and nothing shall be impossible unto you… you know, unless God doesn’t want it to move. In that case you’re just shit outta luck.” No, He’s definitive in the fact that faith is stronger than the physical world and never mentions in that passage that we could only accomplish certain things through faith if God wills it so. (Yes, before you raise your hand and I have to call on you… I do understand the argument that if one has true faith in God then one is close enough to God’s Will that one would not ask for things that are not designed by God, but that is another topic entirely and we will get to it later. So, pipe down, Mr. & Mrs. Bible Reference Bookstore… I’m on it.) He doesn’t mention that at all. And, I would think that the Son of God would probably know what He is talking about and, just as importantly, He would know to whom He is talking.
Look, I know that it is impossible for me to truly understand how faith works among us down here. I am, admittedly, a skeptic at best, and I guess in some people’s eyes, a heathen at worst. But, I do know that the Bible can say whatever it wants, and fine and pretty words can be spoken in churches, synagogues, mosques and any other type of place where people, whose faith is linked to a certain belief system, gather… and all of that is nice, but it doesn’t mean that faith, no matter how much is there, will always work in the real world.
I know part of the problem is that people don’t always know what their own personal faith consists of. There has to be a balance between knowing what is your faith, and knowing what is “what you hope for”… because there is a difference. I guess knowing that is half the battle.
But, come on… really? A mustard seed?!
Oh Ye, of Too Much Faith!
Another aspect of faith that troubles me is the issue of how people use the faith they have in their own particular form of worship and religion and then try to apply that to everyone’s life, oftentimes through a need to define their own lives. For me, a lot of the time, it’s tough to watch faith being played out in front of me because, from what I can tell, faith is oftentimes very intolerant of itself when humans get a hold of it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a conversation with a good Christian that went somewhere along the lines of this:
Me: You do know that the same faith that it takes to believe in Christ is the same faith that it takes to believe in any God, right?
Good Christian: No, my faith is different because I believe in the one true God.
Me: But, isn’t faith the act of believing in something rather than the something itself?
Good Christian: But, you can’t have faith in something that isn’t real. Jesus is real.
Me: Uh… do you even hear the Crazy that comes out of your mouth anymore, or is it all just White Noise by now?
Good Christian: What’s White Noise?
Okay, I’m obviously over-simplifying it a little, but it’s not far off from the actual words and it is definitely in the same spirit of the conversation. I promise, I’ve had this conversation many a time and it is frustrating as hell.
And, I guess that’s the part that I don’t get. How can anyone… of any religion, of any belief system, of any sincere form of investment of their being into something that cannot be proven or seen… how can anyone that has that capacity within themselves not be able to recognize that same spirit in another, despite the difference in opinion? Granted, it’s not every person in any one religion, but it is a lot more common than it ever should be… a lot more common.
Maybe that’s it. Maybe what pisses me off most about faith is that, so often, it cares only for its own kind when it is left in the hearts and minds of those who don’t know that it is a commodity that should be handled with care. It is a weapon, it is a powerful thing, and if you don’t know how to use it you can hurt yourself and others. Whatever your belief system, whomever you worship… we have to stop limiting faith to only those who believe the same exact thing.
And, that’s the hard thing about faith because all faith, whether it be Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jew, or even Atheist… all of it requires a sincere belief in the notion that we are right. It, by its very nature, requires us to believe in ourselves as the ultimate discerner of truth. Sure, we may say nice things, but deep down inside we sincerely believe that whoever disagrees with our form of God, is well, wrong.
In my youth I was of that nature (Of course, in my youth, I was mostly interested in girls, sports and trying to rebel against everything I was told… so… uh… not a lot has changed. You might want to take everything I say with a grain of salt, and/or possibly penicillin). Now that I am older I am trying to be more understanding of the fact that I could be wrong. Not wrong for me, but wrong in what I think is right for others. I’m secure in what I believe to be right… for me. I’m not so sure about everyone else.
The other night, while staring up at Orion’s Belt hanging bright and high overhead, it occurred to me that it’s quite possible that faith is like the night sky. Some of us are looking at the same exact thing, and if we were to discuss what we are seeing we would totally understand each other. But, in almost every time zone the placement of the constellations, the stars, the planets, well, they are slightly different than what I see. And, there are some constellations, and stars, and a ton of other things that aren’t even possible for me to see. They are on the other side of the world, in a place where I do not live. But, just because I can’t see them does not meant that they aren’t real.
And, like the night sky, we often lose sight of our faith. Other things become too bright, too real, too “in the way,” and we can’t see it anymore. But, it doesn’t mean that it’s not there, it’s just hidden for a time. It will come back.
And, just like we oftentimes treat the night sky… it may be there, it may be shining for all of us to see, and yet we barely even look up or pay attention. How many times have I barely recognized that the faith that I have is meant for me, and me alone, and that I should “see” it, really see it, and that I should use it for good?
Lastly, I’ll pose a question. Answer at your own leisure. It’s a simple one. It’s not deep, but it begs an answer. What is more important… faith in what you believe is the answer to the question of God, or love for another?
Oh, and one last very, HUGELY important thing… I checked out the Internet… no brownie for me. Bummer.