"Faith for Jesus is the opposite of anxiety. If you are anxious, if you're trying to control everything, if you are worried about many things, you don't have faith, according to Jesus. You do not trust that God is good and on your side. You're trying to do it all yourself, lift yourself up by your own bootstraps.

"The giveaway is control. That's a good litmus test for the quality of your faith. People of faith don't have to control everything, nor do they have to change people...."

[Richard Rohr, Jesus' Plan for a New World: The Sermon on the Mount]

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I would answer yes. I interpret Rohr's words as  'do the work that God calls you to and let go of what results'.

Among the more secularized branches of RSoF, I think it's a hard concept to embrace. I have my own struggles with letting go and not trying to push and pull things into the shape that I "know" is right.

 It sounds to me like this has elements of the 12 Step recovery philosophy in it-Alcoholics Anonymous, Overaeaters Anonymous etc- whereas  a person is in bondage to an addiction- and they try and fail numerous times to give up the addixction "controll" their addiction in various ways, until one day they realize that-if they can admit they are POWERLESS over their addiction, that "one day at a time" through faith in a higher power and the strengthof supportive group members-they have a fighting chance at recovery. I'm sure that faith in Jesus works for a lot of folks as you described. Don't think that'd work for me- as I do not think Jesus Christ was a supernatural being-just one of the best teachers, and human beings ever

Rohr is pretty definitely (I've got the rest of the book to go by) talking about the faith of Jesus, not faith in Jesus. "Faith" as Jesus talks about it, as in "Your faith has made you well."

If a person doesn't think of God as supporting us and aiding our good efforts -- then the effort to control everything will appear 'only reasonable'.

But the Sermon on the Mount is clearly based on trusting God's good will toward us -- regardless of our personal merits or flaws. Yes, Jesus talks about getting rid of whatever 'ways of seeing' and 'ways of acting' ('eye' and 'hand') might lead us to 'miss' the right way -- and being actually quite ruthless towards these --

But he doesn't think much of human efforts to plan for all contingencies. (Our record, in that regard, has not been good, has it?)

So, if one is a modern, secularly-minded Friend -- and wants to be "responsible" in the governance of a Meeting -- one will have a different idea of what good 'stewardship' looks like... than if one trusts God to guide and provide.

How badly has this tendency derailed us? What to do?

Yes, faith can reduce anxiety.  But it doesn't stop bad things from happening.

Spiny Norman said:

Yes, faith can reduce anxiety.  But it doesn't stop bad things from happening.


Hey, that depends. Most everybody would regard getting hung up on a cross to die as a really bad day, but sometimes you have to go through some stuff to get the Message our there.

As the gospels say, faith can make good things possible that otherwise wouldn't be so rude as to intrude... Things can happen that blow people's worldviews wide open! That's potentially scary, also extremely refreshing.  One impossible event can make life itself start looking worthwhile!

People can "put their faith in" illusory remedies, reduce anxiety -- but then, as you're saying,  find out the hard way that their shirt doesn't stop bullets.

Or they can put their faith in the mind/heart/soul of everything & everyone -- be open to teaching, trust it to love us like a good father. Life is still not necessarily the way we had in mind -- but we find ourselves taught, guided, protected beyond our expectations.

Thee speaks my mind, Forrest. 

Don't confuse 'faith" with "belief".

                               

James C Schultz said:

Don't confuse 'faith" with "belief".


There certainly is a difference, worth a whole discussion of its own (and maybe we had it here already?) but yes, it fits...

In some belief-systems, faith is simply illogical -- even 'irrational' in the bad sense.

In other systems, faith makes sense.

So, obviously it matters what people believe. (But that isn't necessarily the same as 'what I say I believe,' or even 'what I think I believe.')

In other belief-systems, there's a misplaced emphasis on putting one's faith in the belief system itself.

What I think "faith" means in the desirable sense, is something like 'putting your faith in what you know intuitively.' Because you can trust the One that kind of knowledge comes from.

'To let yourself know what you really know"?

I like that description of faith, Forrest. 

 

Forrest Curo said:

What I think "faith" means in the desirable sense, is something like 'putting your faith in what you know intuitively.'

Hello Forrest,

yes, I believe it would. (To every Christian, really.)

Thinking about what so many of the early Friends risked (being shunned, being imprisoned, or just being regarded as pretty weird people), I can only conclude that they were able to let go of their fear and anxiety and have faith. A lot of faith.

I always think it is easier to develop this enormous sense of trust and readiness to do your best and LET GO of fear and ambition and whatnot if you are fortified by religious belief, so I guess this is harder to achieve for secular Friends.

Cheers,

Susann

I agree that letting go is a powerful strategy.  But can we also let go of long-held beliefs and assumptions, or does fear prevent us from doing so?  Are we able to embrace uncertainty?

Susann said:

I always think it is easier to develop this enormous sense of trust and readiness to do your best and LET GO of fear and ambition and whatnot if you are fortified by religious belief, so I guess this is harder to achieve for secular Friends.

I favor a strategy of trying to find out what happens to be true, and why. It presents me with interesting puzzles; and I don't have to embrace Uncertainty when I'd rather be embracing someone more friendly!

"Embrace uncertainty?" What, wouldn't it be fun to wonder if the babysitter might be a criminal psychopath?" Naw, I'd rather know the Babysitter!

I get very very tired of watching antitheists project their fear onto theists; are they ready to let go of their long-held beliefs and assumptions and experiment with trusting the Universe to prove itself, ultimately -- sentient and trustworthy? To sit oneself down comfortably and ask, "Hey, You aren't really a fundamentalist, are You?"

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