Charles Gruber, member, Oread Friends Meeting, 1146 Ore.:
Fate is reality. Faith is your reality.
Fate falls into the category of “How could it be otherwise?” Faith is the result of the complex interrelationship between you and Spirit.
Fate always seems to have a value-added component. (Good fate, bad fate.) Faith is neither good nor bad. It just is.
Fate seems to be “deserved” or in some way inevitable. Faith is always subject to inner manifestation. It’s a moving target.
Fate sometimes feels like being a victim. It has a judgmental component. Faith has a more inspirational component.
Fate is often shared. Faith is always individualized.
Fate is externalized ... it’s what happens to me. Faith is internalized…it’s what I feel.
Fate is a sigh. Faith is an inhalation.
Fate is belief without proof. Faith is trust without reservation.
Fate is calcified. Faith is spiritualized imagination.
Fate decrees that, because the sun rose yesterday, it will rise today. Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark.
Fate generates fear. Faith lifts us above fear.
Fate looks back. Faith looks up.
My recently deceased twin brother and I had a discussion going most of our lives about free will and determinism. That’s not the same issue as this one, but it does have the feeling of paradox like this one. Our sense of fate and faith with each other were intermingled like a double helix. It is to him that I dedicate these words.
— Send e-mail to Charles Gruber at email@example.com.
The Rev. Jill Jarvis, Unitarian Fellowship of Lawrence, 1263 N. 1100 Road:
Our fate — what happens to us as individuals — is dependent on an infinitesimal array of factors, past, present and future — factors over which we have little or no control. Genetics, innate personality and environment all play crucial roles, as does random chance. Given the odds against it, the fact that each of us unique beings is here at all is a miracle.
We often turn to religion to give us an illusion of control, and therefore safety, in this random world. An all-powerful God of justice will protect and save us if only we pray enough, believe correctly and obey. New Age beliefs refute that, even as they teach that we control our destiny through our minds, attracting the good through spiritually positive thinking. The latest twist on this is the prosperity gospel: if we truly believe that God wants us to be rich, we will be.
Bottom line: It is all up to us.
This illusion of control comes at a high price, theologically. When misfortune strikes as it inevitably does in all our lives (“humans plan; God laughs”), it must be our fault. We failed to believe right, act right, think right. These beliefs can actually undermine our sense of compassion, justice and abiding love that is the foundation of religion itself. And they have devastating consequences on a societal level. The fortunate can blame those who struggle with poverty, oppression, ignorance, and illness as being responsible for their plight, even as they believe themselves to be deserving of their own good fortune.
A truly religious response is one of humility and gratitude for the blessings of our lives, compassion (“suffering with”) for those less fortunate, and a constant awareness that “there but for the grace of God — or circumstances — go I.” We are all equally deserving of life’s blessings, and we can all be givers of grace.
— Send e-mail to Jill Jarvis at firstname.lastname@example.org.