It is argued that because they believed thoroughly in a just, moral God they could put there faith there and let the smaller insecurities take care of themselves. But I think that because they trusted themselves and respected themselves as individuals, because they knew beyond doubt that they were valuable and potential moral units- because of this they could give God their own courage and dignity and then receive it back. Such things have disappeared perhaps because men do not trust themselves anymore, and when that happens there is nothing left except perhaps to find some strong sure man, even though he may be wrong, and to dangle from his coat-tails.
For every person who closed the door in my face, thank you. For every person who told me I wasn't good enough, thank you. For every person who laughed and told me that I was wasting my time going to college, because I was going to fail, thank you. For every person who tried to break me, thank you. For every person who took my kindness for weakness, thank you. For every person who told me I was wasting time chasing my dreams because I would fail, thank you. It could of broke me. From the core of my heart, I thank you. I truly mean it, because if it weren't for each of you I wouldn't be who I am today. I wouldn't of spend hours and loss sleep studying. I wouldn't developed tough skin. You pushed me to think about what I "really" want out of life. You pushed me to master my craft. You helped me develop the drive, passion and determination. You pushed me to not wait for someone to believe in my vision, but to find a way to make things happen. I know you didn't "intend" to, but I thank you for teaching me to believe in myself! AND you taught me to TRUST in God and lean on my faith, not man. Thank You!
Tell me something. Do you believe in God?'Snow darted an apprehensive glance in my direction. 'What? Who still believes nowadays?''It isn't that simple. I don't mean the traditional God of Earth religion. I'm no expert in the history of religions, and perhaps this is nothing new--do you happen to know if there was ever a belief in an...imperfect God?''What do you mean by imperfect?' Snow frowned. 'In a way all the gods of the old religions were imperfect, considered that their attributes were amplified human ones. The God of the Old Testament, for instance, required humble submission and sacrifices, and and was jealous of other gods. The Greek gods had fits of sulks and family quarrels, and they were just as imperfect as mortals...''No,' I interrupted. 'I'm not thinking of a god whose imperfection arises out of the candor of his human creators, but one whose imperfection represents his essential characteristic: a god limited in his omniscience and power, fallible, incapable of foreseeing the consequences of his acts, and creating things that lead to horror. He is a...sick god, whose ambitions exceed his powers and who does not realize it at first. A god who has created clocks, but not the time they measure. He has created systems or mechanisms that serves specific ends but have now overstepped and betrayed them. And he has created eternity, which was to have measured his power, and which measures his unending defeat.'Snow hesitated, but his attitude no longer showed any of the wary reserve of recent weeks:'There was Manicheanism...''Nothing at all to do with the principles of Good and Evil,' I broke in immediately. 'This god has no existence outside of matter. He would like to free himself from matter, but he cannot...'Snow pondered for a while:'I don't know of any religion that answers your description. That kind of religion has never been...necessary. If i understand you, and I'm afraid I do, what you have in mind is an evolving god, who develops in the course of time, grows, and keeps increasing in power while remaining aware of his powerlessness. For your god, the divine condition is a situation without a goal. And understanding that, he despairs. But isn't this despairing god of yours mankind, Kelvin? Is it man you are talking about, and that is a fallacy, not just philosophically but also mystically speaking.'I kept on:'No, it's nothing to do with man. man may correspond to my provisional definition from some point of view, but that is because the definition has a lot of gaps. Man does not create gods, in spite of appearances. The times, the age, impose them on him. Man can serve is age or rebel against it, but the target of his cooperation or rebellion comes to him from outside. If there was only a since human being in existence, he would apparently be able to attempt the experiment of creating his own goals in complete freedom--apparently, because a man not brought up among other human beings cannot become a man. And the being--the being I have in mind--cannot exist in the plural, you see? ...Perhaps he has already been born somewhere, in some corner of the galaxy, and soon he will have some childish enthusiasm that will set him putting out one star and lighting another. We will notice him after a while...''We already have,' Snow said sarcastically. 'Novas and supernovas. According to you they are candles on his altar.''If you're going to take what I say literally...'...Snow asked abruptly:'What gave you this idea of an imperfect god?''I don't know. It seems quite feasible to me. That is the only god I could imagine believing in, a god whose passion is not a redemption, who saves nothing, fulfills no purpose--a god who simply is.
I learned to put my trust in God and to see Him as my strength. Long ago I set my mind to be a free person and not to give in to fear. I always felt that it was my right to defend myself if I could. I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear." - Rosa Parks
He chooses us, not because we believe, but that we may believe; lest we should say that we first chose Him” (Augustine). Faith receives the electing love of God not as if it had already become efficacious without faith, but aware that God’s prescience foreknows faith like all else.In accord with ancient ecumenical consent, predestination was carefully defined in centrist Protestant orthodoxy as:'The eternal, divine decree, by which God, from His immense mercy, determined to give His Son as Mediator, and through universal preaching , to offer Him for reception to all men who from eternity He foresaw would fall into sin; also through the Word and Sacraments to confer faith upon all who would not resist; to justify all believers, and besides to renew those using the means of grace; to preserve faith in them until the end of life, and in a word, to save those believing to the end' (Melanchthon).
Because to influence a person is to give him one's own soul. He does not think his natural thoughts, or burn with his natural passions. His virtues are not real to him. His sins, if there are such things as sins, are borrowed. He becomes an echo of some one else's music, an actor of a part that has not been written for him. The aim of life is self-development. To realize one's nature perfectly -- that is what each of us is here for. People are afraid of themselves, nowadays. They have forgotten the highest of all duties, the duty that one owes to oneself. Of course they are charitable. They feed the hungry, and clothe the beggar. But their own souls starve, and are naked. Courage has gone out of our race. Perhaps we never really had it. The terror of society, which is the basis of morals, the terror of God, which is the secret of religion -- these are the two things that govern us.
The Loneliness of the Military HistorianConfess: it's my professionthat alarms you.This is why few people ask me to dinner,though Lord knows I don't go out of my way to be scary.I wear dresses of sensible cutand unalarming shades of beige,I smell of lavender and go to the hairdresser's:no prophetess mane of mine,complete with snakes, will frighten the youngsters.If I roll my eyes and mutter,if I clutch at my heart and scream in horrorlike a third-rate actress chewing up a mad scene,I do it in private and nobody seesbut the bathroom mirror.In general I might agree with you:women should not contemplate war,should not weigh tactics impartially,or evade the word enemy,or view both sides and denounce nothing.Women should march for peace,or hand out white feathers to arouse bravery,spit themselves on bayonetsto protect their babies,whose skulls will be split anyway,or,having been raped repeatedly,hang themselves with their own hair.There are the functions that inspire general comfort.That, and the knitting of socks for the troopsand a sort of moral cheerleading.Also: mourning the dead.Sons,lovers and so forth.All the killed children.Instead of this, I tellwhat I hope will pass as truth.A blunt thing, not lovely.The truth is seldom welcome,especially at dinner,though I am good at what I do.My trade is courage and atrocities.I look at them and do not condemn.I write things down the way they happened,as near as can be remembered.I don't ask why, because it is mostly the same.Wars happen because the ones who start themthink they can win.In my dreams there is glamour.The Vikings leave their fieldseach year for a few months of killing and plunder,much as the boys go hunting.In real life they were farmers.The come back loaded with splendour.The Arabs ride against Crusaderswith scimitars that could seversilk in the air.A swift cut to the horse's neckand a hunk of armour crashes downlike a tower. Fire against metal.A poet might say: romance against banality.When awake, I know better.Despite the propaganda, there are no monsters,or none that could be finally buried.Finish one off, and circumstancesand the radio create another.Believe me: whole armies have prayed ferventlyto God all night and meant it,and been slaughtered anyway.Brutality wins frequently,and large outcomes have turned on the inventionof a mechanical device, viz. radar.True, valour sometimes counts for something,as at Thermopylae. Sometimes being right -though ultimate virtue, by agreed tradition,is decided by the winner.Sometimes men throw themselves on grenadesand burst like paper bags of gutsto save their comrades.I can admire that.But rats and cholera have won many wars.Those, and potatoes,or the absence of them.It's no use pinning all those medalsacross the chests of the dead.Impressive, but I know too much.Grand exploits merely depress me.In the interests of researchI have walked on many battlefieldsthat once were liquid with pulpedmen's bodies and spangled with explodedshells and splayed bone.All of them have been green againby the time I got there.Each has inspired a few good quotes in its day.Sad marble angels brood like hensover the grassy nests where nothing hatches.(The angels could just as well be described as vulgaror pitiless, depending on camera angle.)The word glory figures a lot on gateways.Of course I pick a flower or twofrom each, and press it in the hotel Biblefor a souvenir.I'm just as human as you. But it's no use asking me for a final statement.As I say, I deal in tactics.Also statistics:for every year of peace there have been four hundredyears of war.
My lack of faith in God is not a dilapidated house.It does not need to be razed to the ground or burned down to cinders.I refuse to be the wounded woman on a crossthat you crucify with your disapproval like nails;I will only be the woman who believes in thunderstormsthe same way lightning loves the tops of trees it strikesevery time it gets tired of being pent up in an unforgiving sky,the only difference is that I believe these are natural weather phenomenons,not God’s belly rumbling or synapses firing.When my doorway is filled with groups of peoplewielding religious conversion pamphlets like crossbows,I will be the martyr who steps aside to let the arrowscrack through the plaster in my wall instead of piercing my chest.This is not a eulogy to the believer I could have been.This is a battle cry to the believer I always have been,believer in sunsets like splashes of paint, handholdinglike willow branches brushing one another, new morningsafter old nights spent drowning in despair, believerin love as an entire language instead of a single word.Just because my beliefs align themselves on a different spectrumdoes not mean they are the wrong wavelength or color.And even though I think the universe was created by the Big Banginstead of a God with magic dust shooting from his fingertips,my universe does not contain fewer stars.
I don't believe in God because certain reasons and arguments weigh more heavily in my mind than others, not because I have willfully decided to reject my creator, as many religious people seem to think. I could no more simply decide to believe in God than I could decide to like beetroot, just like that.
Killing, raping and looting have been common practices in religious societies, and often carried out with clerical sanction. The catalogue of notorious barbarities – wars and massacres, acts of terrorism, the Inquisition, the Crusades, the chopping off of thieves’ hands, the slicing off of clitorises and labia majora, the use of gang rape as punishment, and manifold other savageries committed in the name of one faith or another — attests to religion’s longstanding propensity to induce barbarity, or at the very least to give it free rein. The Bible and the Quran have served to justify these atrocities and more, with women and gay people suffering disproportionately. There is a reason the Middle Ages in Europe were long referred to as the Dark Ages; the millennium of theocratic rule that ended only with the Renaissance (that is, with Europe’s turn away from God toward humankind) was a violent time.Morality arises out of our innate desire for safety, stability and order, without which no society can function; basic moral precepts (that murder and theft are wrong, for example) antedated religion. Those who abstain from crime solely because they fear divine wrath, and not because they recognize the difference between right and wrong, are not to be lauded, much less trusted. Just which practices are moral at a given time must be a matter of rational debate. The 'master-slave' ethos – obligatory obeisance to a deity — pervading the revealed religions is inimical to such debate. We need to chart our moral course as equals, or there can be no justice.
Some of the owner men were kind because they hated what they had to do, and some of them were angry because they hated to be cruel, and some of them were cold because they had long ago found that one could not be an owner unless one were cold. And all of them were caught in something larger than themselves. Some of them hated the mathematics that drove them, and some were afraid, and some worshiped the mathematics because it provided a refuge from thought and from feeling. If a bank or a finance company owned the land, the owner man said, The Bank - or the Company - needs - wants - insists - must have - as though the Bank or the Company were a monster, with thought and feeling, which had ensnared them. These last would take no responsibility for the banks or the companies because they were men and slaves, while the banks were machines and masters all at the same time. Some of the owner men were a little proud to be slaves to such cold and powerful masters. The owner men sat in the cars and explained. You know the land is poor. You've scrabbled at it long enough, God knows.
It's because I haven't courage,' said Samuel. 'I could never quite take the responsibility. When the Lord God did not call my name, I might have called his name - but I did not. There you have the difference between greatness and mediocrity. It's not an uncommon disease. But it's nice for a mediocre man to know that greatness must be the loneliest state in the world.''I'd think there are degrees of greatness,' Adam said.'I don't think so,' said Samuel. 'That would be like saying there is a little bigness. No. I believe when you come to that responsibility the hugeness and you are alone to make your choice. On one side you have warmth and companionship and sweet understanding, and on the other - cold, lonely greatness. There you make your choice. I'm glad I chose mediocrity, but how am I to say what reward might have come with the other? None of my children will be great either, except perhaps Tom. He's suffering over the choosing right now. It's a painful thing to watch. And somewhere in me I want him to say yes. Isn't that strange? A father to want his son condemned to greatness! What selfishness that must be.
Many veterans feel guilty because they lived while others died. Some feel ashamed because they didn’t bring all their men home and wonder what they could have done differently to save them. When they get home they wonder if there’s something wrong with them because they find war repugnant but also thrilling. They hate it and miss it.Many of their self-judgments go to extremes. A comrade died because he stepped on an improvised explosive device and his commander feels unrelenting guilt because he didn’t go down a different street. Insurgents used women and children as shields, and soldiers and Marines feel a totalistic black stain on themselves because of an innocent child’s face, killed in the firefight. The self-condemnation can be crippling.The Moral Injury, New York Times. Feb 17, 2015
If priests—of all clans—were free of disease and immune to death, then there might be some basis for the claim of the religionists. But these "men of God" are victims of the natural course of life, "even as you and I." They enjoy no exemptions. They suffer the same ills; they feel the same sensations; they are subject to the same passions of the body, the same frailties of the mind, are victims of circumstances and misfortune, and they meet inevitable death just as every other person. They commit the same kind of crimes as other mortals, and especially, because of their "calling," many are notoriously involved in the embezzlement of church funds. Nor does their calling protect them from the "passions of the flesh." The scandalous conduct of many "men of the cloth," in the realm of moral turpitude, often ends in murder. That is why there are so many "men of God" in our jails, and why so many have paid the supreme penalty in the death chair.They are not free from a single rule of life; what others must endure, they likewise must experience. They cannot protect themselves from the forces of nature, and the laws of life, any more than you can. What they can do, you can do, too. Their claims of being "anointed" and "vicars of God" on earth are false and hypocritical.If they cannot fulfill their promises while you are alive, how can they accomplish them when you are dead? If they are impotent Here, where they could demonstrate their powers, how ridiculous are their promises to accomplish them in the "Hereafter," the mythical abode which exists only in their dishonest or deluded imagination?
The nice people do not come to God, because they think they are good through their own merits or bad through inherited instincts. If they do good, they believe they are to receive the credit for it; if they do evil, they deny that it is their own fault. They are good through their own goodheartedness, they say; but they are bad because they are misfortunate, either in their economic life or through an inheritance of evil genes from their grandparents. The nice people rarely come to God; they take their moral tone from the society in which they live. Like the Pharisee in front of the temple, they believe themselves to be very respectable citizens. Elegance is their test of virtue; to them, the moral is the aesthetic, the evil is the ugly. Every move they make is dictated, not by a love of goodness, but by the influence of their age. Their intellects are cultivated—in knowledge of current events; they read only the bestsellers, but their hearts are undisciplined. They say that they would go to church if the Church were only better—but they never tell you how much better the Church must be before they will join it. They sometimes condemn the gross sins of society, such as murder; they are not tempted to these because they fear the opprobrium which comes to them who commit them. By avoiding the sins which society condemns, they escape reproach, they consider themselves good par excellence.
When a soul in sin, under the impetus of grace, turns to God, there is penance; but when a soul in sin refuses to change, God sends chastisement. This chastisement need not be external, and certainly it is never arbitrary; it comes as an inevitable result of breaking God’s moral law. But the entrenched forces of the modern world are irrational, men nowadays do not always interpret disasters as the moral events they are. When calamity strikes the flint of human hearts, sparks of sacred fire are kindled and men will normally begin to make an estimate of their true worth. In previous ages this was usual: a disordered individual could find his way back to peace because he lived in an objective world inspired by Christian order. But the frustrated man of today, having lost his faith in God, living as he does, in a disordered chaotic world, has no beacon to guide him. In times of trouble he sometimes turns in upon himself, like a serpent devouring its own tail. Given such a man, who worships the false trinity of (1) his own pride, which acknowledges no law; (2) his own sensuality, which makes earthly comfort it goal; (3) his license, which interprets liberty as the absences of all restraint and law—then a cancer is created which is impossible to cure except through an operation or calamity unmistakable as God’s action in history. It is always through sweat and blood and tears that the soul is purged of its animal egotism and laid open to the Spirit … Catastrophe can be to a world that has forgotten God what a sickness can be to a sinner; in the midst of it millions might be brought not to a voluntary, but to an enforced crisis. Such a calamity would put an end to Godlessness and make vast numbers of men, who might otherwise lose their souls, turn to God.
Faith is always coveted most and needed most urgently where will is lacking; for will, as the affect of command, is the decisive sign of sovereignty and strength. In other words, the less one knows how to command, the more urgently one covets someone who commands, who commands severely—a god, prince, class, physician, father confessor, dogma, or party conscience. From this one might perhaps gather that the two world religions, Buddhism and Christianity, may have owed their origin and above all their sudden spread to a tremendous collapse and disease of the will. And that is what actually happened: both religions encountered a situation in which the will had become diseased, giving rise to a demand that had become utterly desperate for some "thou shalt." Both religions taught fanaticism in ages in which the will had become exhausted, and thus they offered innumerable people some support, a new possibility of willing, some delight in willing. For fanaticism is the only "strength of the will" that even the weak and insecure can be brought to attain, being a sort of hypnotism of the whole system of the senses and the intellect for the benefit of an excessive nourishment (hypertrophy) of a single point of view and feeling that henceforth becomes dominant— which the Christian calls his faith. Once a human being reaches the fundamental conviction that he must be commanded, he becomes "a believer."Conversely, one could conceive of such a pleasure and power of self-determination, such a freedom of the will [ This conception of "freedom of the will" ( alias, autonomy) does not involve any belief in what Nietzsche called "the superstition of free will" in section 345 ( alias, the exemption of human actions from an otherwise universal determinism).] that the spirit would take leave of all faith and every wish for certainty, being practiced in maintaining himself on insubstantial ropes and possibilities and dancing even near abysses. Such a spirit would be the free spirit par excellence.
Our acceptance with God is sure only through His beloved Son, and good works are but the result of the working of His sin-pardoning love. They are no credit to us, and we have nothing accorded to us for out good works by which we may claim a part in the salvation of our souls. Salvation is God’s free gift to the believer, given to him for Christ’s sake alone. The troubled soul may find peace through faith in Christ, and his peace will be in proportion to his faith and trust. He cannot present his good works as a plea for the salvation of his soul. But are good works of no real value? Is the sinner who commits sin every day with impunity, regarded of God with the same favor as the one who through faith in Christ tries to work in his integrity? The Scripture answers, ‘We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should work in them.’ In His divine arrangement, through His unmerited favor, the Lord has ordained that good works shall be rewarded. We are accepted through Christ’s merit alone, and the acts of mercy, the deeds of charity, which we perform, are the fruits of faith; and they become a blessing to us; for men are to be rewarded according to their works. It is the fragrance of the merit of Christ than makes our good works acceptable to God, and it is grave that enables us to do the works for which He rewards us. Our works in and of themselves have no merit. When we have done all that it is possible for us to do, we are to count ourselves as unprofitable servants. We deserve no thanks from God. We have only done what it was our duty to do, and our works could not have been performed in the strength of our own sinful nature. The Lord has bidden us to draw nigh to Him, and He will draw nigh to us; and drawing nigh to Him, we receive the grace by which to do those good works which will be rewarded at His hands.
I believe the perception of what people think about DID is I might be crazy, unstable, and low functioning. After my diagnosis, I took a risk by sharing my story with a few friends. It was quite upsetting to lose a long term relationship with a friend because she could not accept my diagnosis. But it spurred me to take action. I wanted people to be informed that anyone can have DID and achieve highly functioning lives. I was successful in a career, I was married with children, and very active in numerous activities. I was highly functioning because I could dissociate the trauma from my life through my alters. Essentially, I survived because of DID. That's not to say I didn't fall down along the way. There were long term therapy visits, and plenty of hospitalizations for depression, medication adjustments, and suicide attempts. After a year, it became evident I was truly a patient with the diagnosis of DID from my therapist and psychiatrist. I had two choices. First, I could accept it and make choices about how I was going to deal with it. My therapist told me when faced with DID, a patient can learn to live with the live with the alters and make them part of one's life. Or, perhaps, the patient would like to have the alters integrate into one person, the host, so there are no more alters. Everyone is different.The patient and the therapist need to decide which is best for the patient. Secondly, the other choice was to resist having alters all together and be miserable, stuck in an existence that would continue to be crippling. Most people with DID are cognizant something is not right with themselves even if they are not properly diagnosed. My therapist was trustworthy, honest, and compassionate. Never for a moment did I believe she would steer me in the wrong direction. With her help and guidance, I chose to learn and understand my disorder. It was a turning point.
For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow. Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life. A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail. A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live. When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all. A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one's suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother. So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.
Whether or not you believe in God, you must believe this: when we as a species abandon our trust in a power greater than us, we abandon our sense of accountability. Faiths… all faiths… are admonitions that there is something we cannot understand, something to which we are accountable. With faith we are accountable to each other, to ourselves, and to a higher truth. Religion is flawed, but only because man is flawed. The church consists of a brotherhood of imperfect, simple souls wanting only to be a voice of compassion in a world spinning out of control.
Because salvation is by grace through faith, I believe that among the countless number of people standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands (see Revelation 7:9), I shall see the prostitute from the Kit-Kat Ranch in Carson City, Nevada, who tearfully told me that she could find no other employment to support her two-year-old son. I shall see the woman who had an abortion and is haunted by guilt and remorse but did the best she could faced with grueling alternatives; the businessman besieged with debt who sold his integrity in a series of desperate transactions; the insecure clergyman addicted to being liked, who never challenged his people from the pulpit and longed for unconditional love; the sexually abused teen molested by his father and now selling his body on the street, who, as he falls asleep each night after his last 'trick', whispers the name of the unknown God he learned about in Sunday school.'But how?' we ask.Then the voice says, 'They have washed their robes and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb.'There they are. There *we* are - the multitude who so wanted to be faithful, who at times got defeated, soiled by life, and bested by trials, wearing the bloodied garments of life's tribulations, but through it all clung to faith. My friends, if this is not good news to you, you have never understood the gospel of grace.
My mother believed in God's will for many years. It was af if she had turned on a celestial faucet and goodness kept pouring out. She said it was faith that kept all these good things coming our way, only I thought she said "fate" because she couldn't pronounce the "th" sound in "faith". And later I discovered that maybe it was fate all along, that faith was just an illusion that somehow you're in control. I found out the most I could have was hope, and with that I wasn't denying any possibility, good or bad. I was just saying, If there is a choice, dear God or whatever you are, here's where the odds should be placed.I remember the day I started thinking this, it was such a revelation to me. It was the day my mother lost her faith in God. She found that things of unquestioned certainty could never be trusted again.We had gone to the beach, to a secluded spot south of the city near Devil's Slide. My father had read in Sunset magazine that this was a good place to catch ocean perch. And although my father was not a fisherman but a pharmacist's assistant who had once been a doctor in China, he believed in his nenkan, his ability to do anything he put his mind to. My mother believed she had nenkan to cook anything my father had a mind to catch. It was this belief in their nenkan that had brought my parents to America. It had enabled them to have seven children and buy a house in Sunset district with very little money. It had given them the confidence to believe their luck would never run out, that God was on their side, that house gods had only benevolent things to report and our ancestors were pleased, that lifetime warranties meant our lucky streak would never break, that all the elements were now in balance, the right amount of wind and water.