“The Hassidic Rabbi, Baal-Shem-Tov, once told the following story. ‘Two men were traveling through a forest. One was drunk, the other was sober. As they went, they were attacked by robbers, beaten, robbed of all they had, even their clothing. When they emerged, people asked them if they got through the wood without trouble. The drunken man said: “Everything was fine; nothing went wrong; we had no trouble at all!” They said: “How does it happen that you are naked and covered with blood?” He did not have an answer. The sober man said: “Do not believe him: he is drunk. It was a disaster. Robbers beat us without mercy and took everything we had. Be warned by what happened to us, and look out for yourselves.’ . . . For some faithful . . . ‘faith’ seems to be a kind of drunkenness, an anesthetic, that keeps you from realizing and believing that anything can ever go wrong. Such faith can be immersed in a world of violence and make no objection . . . . The drunkenness of this kind of faith–whether in a religious message or merely in a political ideology—enables us to go through life without seeing that our own violence is a disaster and that the overwhelming force by which we seek to assert ourselves and our own self-interest may well be our ruin. Is faith a narcotic dream in a world of heavily-armed robbers, or is it an awakening? Is faith a convenient nightmare in which we are attacked and obliged to destroy our attackers? What if we awaken to discover that we are the robbers, and our destruction comes from the root of hate in ourselves?” Thomas Merton
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.”
Proverbs 31:8 NIV
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Imagine the violence being done during this pandemic towards first responders and other essential workers. As much as you’re able, do you advocate for them? If not, is your silence a form of consent?
- Are you aware of violence done in your name? Does your faith challenge you to consider such things?
- Is your brand of faith a “narcotic”–an opiate, that keeps you from seeing or admitting there is a problem? . . . that stifles your empathy?
Abba, may my faith always make me more desirous to live in reality–and more useful, more compassionate.
For More: Faith and Violence by Thomas Merton