Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Blind Faith

One thing that makes my gorge rise, gets my goat, and drives me nuts all in one fell swoop is people who subscribe to a religious tradition but for the life of them can't articulate their reasons for doing so. Like a dog coming back to its vomit, I’d like to discuss religion again, but this time around I’m more interest in people’s views of religion than religion per se.  I often come across expressions of ignorance and apathy when I ask—and I rarely ask such a question outright—why someone is Catholic, Lutheran, Mormon, or what have you.  They don't seem to know and they don't seem to care.  Once in a while I get a look of embarrassment, however.

What are you looking for, Der Viator?  Someone to articulate the theological and liturgical characteristics of their faith and how they differ from others?  Yes, that's precisely what I want!  Why shouldn't I?  Listen, I don't expect everyone to know the reasons and basis for everything that they do.  I like to drink Coke but I couldn't give you all the ingredients if you asked me on the spot.  I teach the social sciences at a university but don't expect students outside these disciplines to know as much as perhaps they should.  Again, everyone can't be a polymath.  But religion?  Shouldn't you have a fairly rich and deep knowledge about what you believe and why you believe it when it comes to your eternal destiny?  And it's not like I'm asking someone to be fully abreast of the theological nomenclature and church history for crying out loud!  I just want an explanation that touches the essentials as to why you've embraced this particular faith.  That's all.  I won't try to argue with you.  Why is it so important that your kid go through bat mitvah or confirmation if you don't even understand the reasons why these rites of passage came about?  Ritual for ritual's sake isn't a good enough reason.  I want answers to life's riddle and as I get older, as time goes by, I have less and less toleration for these people's complacency, blind tradition, and intellectual laziness.