What Faith Is NotThe first myth is that faith does not allow questioning. As Father points out, demanding this type of faith would be spiritual and psychological abuse and mind control. It is one of the things that separate religious groups from cults.
There is a story in the Old Testament about Jacob wrestling with an angel. A priest I once knew used to preach about the need for us to "wrestle" with God--bring up our questions and concerns to the Almighty and not to be afraid. I think this message gets lost in our quest to inculcate our faith onto the next generation.
It is ok to question. It is ok to search and to shake one's fist at God, if that is what we feel. God is big enough to handle it. He is unconditional love, and is not offended by true searching.
The second myth is that faith is "trying very hard to believe something that is hard to believe". Father Longnecker says "when non-believers scorn this kind of faith, I am on their side." This is a childish and infantile belief in a sort of wishful or magical type of thinking. It is seen today in the various "positive thinking" advocates--believe hard enough and you will get your wish. The flip side of that is that if your life is not an easy path, you are not believing hard enough.
The third myth about faith is that it involves unquestioningly following a set of moral rules. This is a bit like signing some sort of legal contract. If you keep up your end of the bargain, God will whisk you up to heaven. It's as simple as that. The problem is that this has nothing to do with love--either ours or God's. This is God-as-landlord faith.
The fourth myth is that faith is about easy, no-worries type of living. As Fr. says, "somebody else pays the bills, somebody else picks up the pieces, somebody else picks up the trash." That is definitely not faith, because none of us lives a worry-free life. Again, people who espouse this type of faith are often judgmental of those whose lives are not quite this worry-free.
What Faith IsIn a separate post, Father talks about what faith is, focusing on Hebrews 11.1 “For faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” Father points out that, when this verse was written (in this translation--in Medieval English) "substance" meant not "the actual touch-able thing" that it means today, but was a philosophical term meaning "the inner essence of a thing". He posits that "faith gives us access to the inner reality of things."
For the second half of the verse, he turns to marriage as an apt analogy. Faith, he says, is the proverbial "leap of faith" that he likens to a young man in love, but afraid of marriage. When he listens to others who have made that commitment, and watched them live it out, he decides to take that step himself.
What he discovers is that Love is there. "The step itself", the marriage commitment "has provided him with the final evidence he needs. He is transformed by taking that step into that commitment and this step, by its very nature, provides the final proof of what he had doubted for so long."
Also, as in marriage, we "enter into a new state of being". We are different in our essence, after we discover and commit to the Divine in our lives.
"The two shall become one."