Good Essay On Midterm Exam Questions Rels 1335
1. The definition that is most meaningful to me is that faith seeks understanding. First, this means that faith cannot be blind. When we accept faith, it is not like accepting a gift without inquiring what it is. Faith is like a gift. However, we seek to understand the gift of faith. Without understanding, faith is like a child’s faith. Children also ask questions about faith. So being like a child does not mean that we accept faith blindly. Faith that is taken on blind assumptions alone tends to be very shallow faith.
Shallow faith is skin deep. It is troubled easily. Faith that does not seek understanding is faith that is more like accepting the law without understanding the deeper roots of the law. Christ says that we are supposed to walk by faith. Walking by faith sometimes means wondering about the big questions. Why do bad things happen to good people. Asking this question is a good example of getting deeper into our faith. For it is a question that seeks to understand God’s goodness. By understanding God’s goodness, it is natural to inquire why there is evil in the world. If God is good, then why does evil exist?
Faith of this kind helps us to understand how to deal with the most difficult aspects of life. If we never questioned our faith, we would be naive. We would be like the little girl who follows the wolf into the woods not realizing that the wolf may not have our best interests. Perhaps this is why Christ called himself the Good Shepherd for he leads his flock. Unlike dumb sheep, however, we are asked to follow the shepherd and seek out the good in the midst of a sometimes evil world.
2. In Mark’s Gospel, the passage that lends itself well to a meditation on the Gospel as performance is the feeding of the multitudes (Mark 6:31-44). It is interesting that Christ chose to escape the crowds with his disciples, but the crowds found him. Christ has “compassion on the people” and says they are like “sheep without a shepherd”. So Christ performs for the crowd. He teaches them and realizing that the crowds are hungry he does a miraculous deed. He has his disciples distribute loaves of bread and fish. The disciples are incredulous at first. How can we feed so many people with such little resources? The miracle of the feeding of the multitude is a great performance. For Christ understood that the people want to hear his words. He also understood that they sought from him nourishment. So instead of telling them to go home, he continues the performance and shows him that he does not give only to mere words. The miracle is supposed to show how substantial following Christ can be for those who have faith. Not only are the people fed spiritual nourishment, they are satisfied in their physical needs as well.
Christ acts like a charismatic preacher in this scene. The five thousand people who were present were perhaps looking for something and like a good performer Christ recognize this deep spiritual need. It is similar to how today preachers can attract great crowds of people? Why? Because they are seeking out something more in their life. The performance and the miracle are tied together into one. For Christ could have just made the food appear as if by magic. But the performance required the participation of those present. The disciples had to give the food out to the people, and naturally, the people shared with those around them what was given. Because they were so caught up in the sacred performance they did not realize a miracle had occurred until after everyone was satisfied. It was a subtle performance given on a grand scale.
3. John Donne’s “No Man is an Island” is a great example of a text of faith. The poem is about how we can not be isolated from our fellow human beings. No man is an island means that no person can truly live alone. We need others. While we may think that we are self-sufficient, and we do not need others, it is part of the spiritual journey to be with others. By being with one another Donne, means that we are part “of the continent” and we are a piece of the main. What this means is that we all share a common human nature together. The poem is even more profound in its last lines where Donne talks about death. The point of this passage is to show that any person’s death “diminishes me” for “I am a part of mankind”. What this passage means is that even those people we don’t know or we are not close to — we are still connected. It is why the death of another person hits us so strongly. What ties us together is our mortality — that we will die. Donne is saying that the loss of another life is an intrusion. Even though Christians believe in life after death and the promise of spending eternity with God, the fact is that death is experienced as a loss. Even Christ had compassion on those who gathered together to hear his words. He understood the frailty of humanity.
Spirituality cannot be solely self-centered. To think that one’s journey of faith is simply a solitary road keeps us from understanding how we “are in this together”. Even though I may not know everyone in my class, or even if I do not know very well the people I go to school with on a daily basis, the spiritual truth is that we share a common bond. Donne is saying that we should not avoid the suffering of others. If others suffer and we turn a blind eye we are doing ourselves a disservice. For at the end of Donne’s meditation he writes “For whom the bell tolls — it tolls for thee”. What this means is that death reminds us of our own short life. By sharing in the suffering of others we recognize that no matter what — our life is no more important than someone else’s. Christian faith means accepting this humble fact and never thinking oneself as superior to another. Death is the common denominator. Donne’s point is that this ought to bring us closer together.
4. I think the best way to think about the stages of Christian purification illumination, and union as being lost one’s journey. Have you ever been lost and could not find your way? It is a scary experience for you wonder if you will ever get home. It makes you realize that you have to rely on someone else for guidance. This is the part where we ask for directions, and hopefully someone shows us the way. In the life of the spiritual person, it seems, it is necessary to be lost before one is found. In being lost, we have the opportunity to be vulnerable. In being lost, we can then open ourselves up to illumination. In this way, texts from scripture can have a deeper meaning. It is like reading Mark’s account of the loaves and fishes and feeling nothing. At first the story is not meaningful. Illumination only comes after feeling lost. Perhaps the feeling of one of the people who followed Christ to hear his words. Maybe they were lost. Maybe they followed the crowd to hear Christ speak and could not find their way home again. In this feeling of lostness, they heard the words and experienced the miracle of the feeding of the multitudes.
In this way, there is a union for the person of faith understands how we all share in the divine life while here on earth. In the regular course of everyday life the divine breaks into our staid existence and lights us up and we feel a deep spiritual connection we had never heard of before. In this way, the spiritual journey has to have some element of feeling astray, in order to be purged, and then to be led to a deeper spiritual understanding.
5. In speaking of friendship, there are many kinds of friends. The most common kind of friend is the friend that I make through school or work. I notice though that once I go another direction, I lose touch with these friends. Alternatively, friends I have had through a common interest often go by the wayside once we find something else that interests us. A soul friend, I think, is someone you care about no matter what they do, where they go to school, or what their interests are in common.
In my experience, I have probably have had only one “soul friend”. This friend is someone who I do not see very often because we do not live in the same place. But when I do see them it is like we have always been connected. With normal friends, it is like a game. You either are trying to have fun with them, or do something together, or trying to get rid of a certain loneliness. I think of my soul friend as someone I can be alone with and it does not feel uncomfortable, or someone I can take a long trip and enjoy all aspects of the journey. It is knowing you can talk, or be quiet, or you can talk about something important, or talk about nonsense.
Knowing you have a soul friend means that they do not consider you a friend because of what you do or what you can offer, and similarly, a soul friend is someone I do not go to because I want something out of the relationship. A soul friend has to be someone who is on a similar journey, however. I notice that the people I am close to I am connected to them because of a shared journey. The development of the friendship takes time. It is not something that happens over the course of a few drinks, or a few nights out. It is a building of trust. And even when they move away, or if you have not seen them in a while, the intensity of the friendship remains.
Christ’s disciples were his soul friends. So, in this way, a soul friend is also a spiritual friend. Feeling comfortable praying with a friend is a good sign that a soul friend has been found. Feeling alone with a friend, or letting them know who you truly are as a person is a good indication of this kind of friendship. I probably cannot be a friend with my boss, or with my teacher at his level of friendship. Nor can I say my parents are this kind of friend. It is surprising who may turn out to be a soul friend. It is not necessarily the person you may expect.