Olives for Hope

If the world is ever going to come to peace,
humanity can no longer be recognized 
on a case by case basis.


Quaker Oats (no, not oatmeal!)

Posted on September 3, 2011 at 10:00 AM

I believe in prophecy.

Some folks see things not everybody can see.

And,once in a while, they pass the secret along to you and me.


The issue of faith has been prominent this week. A group of Atheists and Agnostics put up a billboard near me that sparked a lot of discussion. It suggested that one could be a good person and live a good life without believing in God.  It is a pretty radical statement in this area. I have also been confronted several times with statements aligning Christianity with the instruction to “Stand with Israel”.


And as the Quaker faith is a “peculiar” faith, a number of people have asked me “What exactly, do Quakers believe?” Anyone that has ever asked, or attempted to answer that question knows, there is no one straight-line answer. I do my best, explain it is not so much about what we believe, but it is about who we are and what we do. However, one of the beautiful (and hard) things about the Quaker faith is that no one person can define it for other Quakers.


And I believe in miracles.

Something sacred burning in every bush and tree.

We can all learn to sing the songs the angels sing.

Yeah, I believe in God, and God ain't me.


There is nothing about faith that speaks of rationality and logic. It is not linear, or black and white. Yet, at the same time it makes so much sense. I remember in high school Earth Science class, my instructor was an atheist. One day he asked me “How can you know what you know, and still believe in God?” My answer was “How can you know what you know, and NOT believe in God?”

I've traveled around the world,

Stood on mighty mountains and gazed across the wilderness.

Never seen a line in the sand or a diamond in the dust.


 I had a conversation once in Nazareth with someone that was wrestling with their own faith. He spoke about the faith of the worshippers there (we were at the Church of the Annunciation) as superstition. I don’t believe he was referring to their belief in God in general, but of the ritualistic way of expressing their faith (yes, there was a holy water drinking fountain). Although I don’t believe what they believe, I can see how in their (very scary) world, faith in those rituals can be comforting.T he problem with faith as I see it, is that too many people use it as a weapon. Somehow my faith (or lack, of in their minds) is a personal assault which they must confront.


And as our fate unfurls.
Every day that passes I'm sure about a little bit less.
Even my money keeps telling me it's God I need to trust.

And I believe in God, but God ain't us.


I saw the same when I visited the Western (Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem and the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron. The rituals themselves are different, but yet very similar. And they all serve the same purpose - to create a sense of connection with God. Quakers don’t (in general) put much stock in rituals, though I have often said that I think sometimes Quakers can be quite ritualistic in their “non-ritualism”.


God,in my little understanding, don't care what name I call.

Whether or not I believe doesn't matter at all.


A Jewish friend once said to me “I am not concerned about saving the State of Israel. I am concerned about saving Judaism.” She is certain (and I agree) that the politics of Zionism are corrupting the faith. But, it is not so different in Christianity and in Islam. It is very sad to me that something as profoundly personal as faith is so skillfully used to push political agendas. When we feel threatened, we so easily forget that the essence of faith is not to support a particular politics, but to look outside ourselves and create community in this world we have been given.


I receive the blessings.
That every day on Earth's another chance to get it right.

Let this little light of mine shine and rage against the night.


Faith, however, is a political statement. Regardless of what one believes about the inerrancy of the Bible, you have to be struck by the fact that Jesus was a revolutionary whose only weapon was love. “Love your neighbor” – it doesn’t get much simpler, or harder than that. (Power to the People!)


Just another lesson
Maybe someone's watching and wondering what I got.
Maybe this is why I'm here on Earth, and maybe not.

But I believe in God, and God is God.


['God is God' by Steve Earle, is on his recent release 'I'll never get out of this world alive"]

Categories: Random Thoughts, POV