Because life is a series of edits

Faith’s Only Worth Is in What (or Whom) It’s Placed

In Politics on October 8, 2007 at 2:00 am

John McCain's recent interview about religion, combined with Barack Obama's declaration about faith and how it plays "every role" in his life, reminded me how much politicians (and most Americans) talk about faith as if it's an actual deity itself.

McCain said last week in this Beliefnet interview:

"We have to rely on our faith sometimes to give us guidance, not to help us make a specific decision, but to help us maintain our moral and spiritual values that then allow us to make the right decision, even if sometimes it's politically expensive. My faith obviously informs my decisions. It informs my strengths as well as my weaknesses. And it makes me aware of how imperfect a person I am. And it is vital in helping me maintain the principles upon which I conduct my political life, as well as other parts of my life…"

The New York Times reports in this article Obama saying:

"It's what keeps me grounded. It's what keeps my eyes set on the greatest of heights. Faith is what propels me to do what I do, and when I am down it's what lifts me up…What role does faith play? It plays every role."

It could just be me playing semantics, but if I didn't know any better, I'd swear McCain's and Obama's god is named Faith. Maybe it's a generational thing (my parents' friends talk about having "a faith" almost like it's a membership to Sam's), or maybe it's just politico-speak to appeal to the religious voter (which is everyone, regardless of whether they acknowledge it or not) – I don't know.

What I do know is this generic faith thing bugs me. Faith's only worth is in what (or whom) it's placed, not just in having some.

The fact that I may have "a faith" that a chair will hold me has more to do with the integrity of the chair than the integrity of my faith; that is, I can believe all I want, but if the chair isn't worthy, my faith in it is worthless. Likewise, I can believe all I want that my faith can make a difference in the world, but it has little to do with my faith being mine and more to do with my faith being in God.

If politicians want to talk true religion instead of just playing the "spiritual" card on the campaign trail, they're going to have to stop making faith a generic buzzword and start specifically naming who and for what they're really trusting. Call me a cynic, but my guess is few of them honestly know.

  1. Can’t say I was, Emily, but thanks nonetheless.

  2. You made a great point. People are either so atheist or so syncretist today that they don’t seem to care about the differences between religions/faith. All they care is that someone has it (or doesn’t). If we can’t get back to what the CONTENT of someone’s faith is, our nation is in deep trouble.

  3. I read John McCain’s Faith of our Fathers and was disappointed to learn absolutely nothing of his faith or the faith of his fathers. Go figure.

  4. Brad Pitt was on the front of Parade magazine yesterday and the headline had something to do with his faith, so I opened it up to find out. Parade takes about two minutes to read so I figured I wasn’t wasting a ton of time. Brad’s faith is in himself. He even said so! He prefers the personal responsibility of believing in himself. Just in case anyone was wondering.

  5. thank you for pointing that out. so well said I can say nothing else…

  6. how true! i think that is pretty sad when people are so proud of themselves for having their faith in themselves. talk about a poor object for your faith. that’s it! m

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