Saturday, April 16, 2005

A Negative Definition of Faith

To the usurper, faith is the act of dismissing one's doubts.

President Bush talked to the seven reporters traveling with him on Air Force One about Jesus after attending the pope's funeral in Rome last week. For 47 minutes, Bush and the journalists had an intimate, friendly chat largely about the pope, his legacy and Bush's own "walk with Christ," "The Washington Post" reported this week in an article with the headline, "Preacher Bush."
"There is no doubt in my mind there is a living God. And no doubt in my mind that Lord, Christ, was sent by the Almighty. No doubt in my mind about that," he said.
Bush said attending Pope John Paul II's emotional funeral last Friday strengthened his faith, his belief in a living God and in how religious faith is a lifelong journey, "not a respite."
"I think a walk in faith constantly confronts doubt, as faith becomes more mature," Bush said. "And you constantly confront, you know, questions. My faith is strong. The Bible [says] ... you've got to constantly stay in touch with the Word of God in order to help you on the walk.

First of all, doubt is my middle name. I haven't lived a day without doubt and I never dismiss it. Bush is full of what faith is not. When God says "come to me, all of you who travail or are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest," it just does not register. Faith is what you have when you take a chance, when you trust someone, and when you try to do good. It is not a sin to be unsure of yourself, it is not a sin to make a mistake provided that you recognize it and assert that you made it. Doubt is not sinful, it isn't wrong. Doubt is part of the human condition, and it becomes especially strong when your physical welfare is imperiled by uncertainty and poverty. The latter two conditions are ones the Bush has never known.
Faith is a respite from doubt, terror, and the darkness and injustice of the world. A walk, Mr. Bush? You do not know the meaning of the word unless you have canvassed for employment for several hours and been turned down everywhere you showed up. I am sure that Bush carefully avoids the parable of the vineyard in his readings of the New Testament. He has no idea that the people outcast from work, from well-being in this world, will be the first comforted by God. The terrified will find courage, and the weak will find strength in the light of God. But those who have produced and exacerbated their poverty will be dust and remain so for eternity.

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