Saturday, March 26, 2005


From The Geographer's Library. Paul's boss is telling him about what a priest taught him about faith:

"'he said anytime his faith was tested --which I imagine was pretty often-- he turned not to the Gospels or Revelation or promises of heaven or anything like that, but to this one verse from Ecclesiastes' --and here Art read from the scrap of paper: ''Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, wither thou goest.'' Art looked up at me. 'He said that it reminded him that faith came and went, even in priests --even we cannot believe all the time, he said-- and that actions, not pure belief, matter more. I remember he looked up at me --a practicing Catholic can always tell a lapsed one-- and said, 'You came for a bullet, but you would not have come for mass.' He was right." (p94-5)

Perhaps the reason this paragraph caught my attention is that I'm also a lapsed Catholic, like Art. I suppose I'm a lapsed believer, period. Still, it's conforting to think that what matters is actions, not intangibles like faith or belief. I wish believers felt that way, though -- maybe then they would concentrate on living well instead of converting/saving/damning the rest of us.

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