Friday, November 17, 2006


Last month, I sat in a stewardship meeting listening to Father Bernie speak about evangelizing. While the practice is not something to new to me, as it is common in the Pentecost faith, it became clear that the idea of approaching someone and inviting them to church was almost unheard of to many Catholics. Father Bernie observed that most people would rather chew their own toenails than talk about religion (okay, I'm sure those weren't his exact words, but you get the point). In fact, most people will talk about anything -- including politics -- except religion. We'll debate endlessly about taxes, whether or not the war in Iraq is justified, campaign finance reform, the electoral college, environmental legislation, and even political issues that are almost inextricably tangled with religion (such as same-sex marriage, abortion, right to die, and stem-cell research) -- but to simply start talking about our basic beliefs, our spiritual habits, and our faith is completely taboo.

I've been lucky. There has rarely been a moment in my life when I felt I had to truly defend my faith. Like every Christian, I've experienced situations in which I've felt more comfortable keeping quiet in matters of faith; situations in which I've been the lone Christian in a group of atheists, agnostics, or practioners of other "alternative" religions; situations in which I've had to meekly speak up and say, "Hey! We're not all like that" when stereotypes run rampant. And while I've never had to choose between my faith and serious harm, I've certainly had to choose between my faith and my comfort many times over the past month. I have endured accusations of "turning away from God," blog spam extolling the evils of the Catholic church, accusations that I've abandoned my own religious convictions, personal concern that I've disappointed my family by deviating from my religious upbringing, and, in the midst of it all, fear that I'm mucking it all up. But that's faith. There are no easy answers.

Faith is many different things to many different people. To some, it's something that is most often placed on a shelf and never really called upon until times get tough. For others, it's a integral part of everyday life -- but a part that exists mostly in the background. Still others will stand staunchly by their faith and tend to it -- until doing so becomes uncomfortable. And few will truly live their faith by talking about it, defending it, challenging it, demonstrating it, studying it, and making it grow stronger. It's never easy to be one of those few, but I pray that I will be.


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