Sally Quinn’s Five Lessons after Five Years “On Faith”

I’m glad that The Washington Post publishes its On Faith section regularly. I was disappointed, however, in Sally Quinn’s reflections on five years of managing this important forum for discussion and mutual education.  Her Five lessons from On Faith makes one wonder how much she was paying attention, especially given her final statement that the one thing she knows is that God is whoever anyone of us says God is.

Here’s my comment that I posted there:

While this article has a few good points (especially the reminder about the common search for meaning, a la Viktor Frankl, that is present in all human cultures and times), on the whole Ms. Quinn doesn’t seem to have learned much in five years, at least not much about what religions and faiths and spirituality at their best do for humanity. 

Ms Quinn, do you realize the utter absurdity of concluding an article about “lessons on faith” by stating, “God is what you or I or anyone else says God is,” and then following this with the statement, “This I know”??? By definition, “faith” cannot be “known.”  If it were knowable, it would not be faith.

The Latin root of the word “absurd” means deaf. You say you came to the perspective that God is whoever or whatever anyone of us says God is because “nobody has the same view” and there are such different views about God held by people throughout the world. Instead of looking for cookie-cutter “definitions” of God that were the same everywhere, did you ever consider that such divergent views of the Divine themselves were evidence of the many paths to the same Ultimate Reality? Did you hear nothing of people’s views that God is utterly Transcendent and beyond our ability to categorize? Did you not listen when people of faith spoke of the divine as Mystery? Did you not ponder in silence, letting go of your rationalistic “need to know” when people of faith told you that their experience of God lead them to find forgiveness for enemies and deeper love for others?  If religion does this, then it is indeed “true religion,” and it helps us see that God is precisely NOT who or what we say God is. Such a god would be an idol, a “thing” of our own making. For people of faith, any faith, God, however, is indeed “no thing”; God is Being Itself and the source of all that is good, loving, kind, wise. As the scriptures from my tradition says, God is “I Am Who Am.”

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