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February 16, 2024

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Our complex faiths

On Monday, David Busch wrote an article about a powerful experience in the Holy Land. The experience was influential, one that could have possibly altered anyone’s outlook on life. Busch mentioned how he saw powerful faith in the pilgrims at the Wailing Wall, as well as in the streets of Jerusalem. He painted a vivid picture of the faith and passion that has been present in the Holy Land for thousands of years.

However, Busch also went on to criticize the churches in Bowling Green for “forcing faith on others” and “advertising religion”. But does this dichotomy really exist? I know first hand that faith is being shared with others in a respectful and sensitive manner. I agree with Busch, condemning one to hell is not an appropriate means of conveying the message of faith. It is unfortunate this happens at BGSU, but preaching condemnation is certainly not a sufficient representation of the methods various churches in Bowling Green community use.

Faith is trust as well as a belief of acquired truth. This can often lead to fulfillment and meaning.

Busch wrote on Monday, “Faith should give us kindness and love, a yearning for everyone to lead a fulfilling life.”

Well said. But it is this “yearning” that leads religious groups to branch out to the campus. They are so energized with faith that they are willing to invite complete strangers to join them. These groups have a conviction of faith that leads to their “advertising” or better stated, campus outreach. If faith is portrayed correctly, it can be shared conscientiously and respectfully; be skeptical of a faith using any other means. My challenge is this: Follow one of those “advertisements”, perhaps they may lead to a similar experience to that of the Holy Land pilgrimage, or better yet a faith filled life.

We can dogmatically state “col wachad” (we are all one) but that doesn’t mean it’s true. According to Judaism, we become one by following the one true God. “Shema yisrael Adonai eloheinu Adonai echad” (Hear o Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One). According to Judaism, humans become one by loving the one true God, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” This led the early Jewish people to follow the Jewish Torah (Law), distinguishing them from the neighboring people.

Different faiths hold different beliefs and practices. These faiths do not allow their congregations to pick and choose which beliefs and practices to follow; they teach their congregation a set of beliefs and doctrines, which are expected to be upheld by the faithful. If one has true faith it is difficult to wind up a “confused soul wandering the earth”.

I commend Busch for his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, as well as his insights. Though I’m weary of a subjectivist and relativist approach to religion and faith, for it may ultimately lead to confusion, doubts, and ultimately a lack of faith.

Swearingen is a junior majoring in political science. Send responses to his column to [email protected].

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