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Carol Hoenig

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Santorum Reminds Me Why I Wrote 'Of Little Faith'

Posted: 02/24/2012 4:40 pm

When I hear people sermonize while using phrases such as "spiritual war" and "father of lies," I am reminded again of what drove me to write "Of Little Faith," where I completed the first draft in six weeks. It's the conviction of these people -- people like Santorum who think we should all share the same belief system -- that stirs my ire. See, years ago, I belonged to a fundamental, Bible-believing church and it was common to hear such commanding phrases. At the time, I didn't question the validity of such thinking. After all, I believed that the Bible was infallible and not only trusted those who interpreted it for me, but studied it daily myself. Initially, I actually liked being a part of something so certain. I attended Bible studies and, over time, hosted them weekly in my home. I approached the God I believed everyday and eschewed what I'd been taught were the devil's advances. When my then-husband and I had our son, we dedicated him to the Lord and had every intention of raising him in the faith. And for the first few years of his life, we did.

But I began to witness the cracks in the foundation. For instance, there was the young boy from my church who claimed a faith in Jesus but used his father's gun to take his life, leaving behind a note asking that his family pretend he'd never been born. I couldn't help but think of the failings of 1 Corinthians 10:13 in that young boy's life. ("God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength but with your testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.") I suppose suicide could be considered a way out.

Then there was the minister whose brother suffered with a brain tumor. The minister claimed his faith, the same faith that could move mountains, and trusted his savior to heal the brother. Sadly, the brother died and the minister went on to blame himself, thinking perhaps a bit of doubt in his heart was the deciding factor on whether his brother lived or died. What an unnecessary burden to carry.

Eventually, I began to give serious thought to what I was being taught. What followed was a matter of separating myself from this church I'd been immersed in for several years. Yet, it wasn't easy since I was warned what could happen if I gave a voice to my questions: The "father of lies" would lure me away from the gates of heaven. I clearly remember the day I was curled up on my living room couch in the fetal position while sobbing. I had reached a point where the hypocrisies and paradoxes needed to be addressed. I couldn't ignore them any longer. But that didn't mean I wasn't going to go to hell, which is why I was devastated.

When my pastor came to see me to find out why I'd stopped attending church, I explained my reasons in detail. He told me that most believers wouldn't entertain such questions since they'd probably reach the same conclusion I had, which can be very scary. Oh, I knew about scary, but should getting to such a place as heaven be based on threats and fear? Basically, the pastor and I parted ways.

Thankfully, over time, I managed to shake off the guilt and learn more about how all those books of the Bible came to be. I no longer was blindly following what organized religion was teaching, but probably spent more time trying to understand the origins of faith than many routine church-goers. Over time, I felt the need to share my spiritual journey from "coming to the Lord to coming to my senses" by writing what began as a memoir. However, not too much time passed before I realized that my story would be much clearer if I allowed some fictional characters, all who had a part of me in them at one point or another, flesh out the story. As I stated earlier, I wrote the first draft in six weeks, often not stopping to eat or sleep, I was driven to get it done; however, several years and just as many more drafts later "Of Little Faith" was completed. Recently, one reviewer wrote the following to me: "I am reading your new book and loving it. I think it's a brave move."

Brave, perhaps, especially in today's climate where religion seems to be pulling the strings of many of our politicians. But I can't help think that the term "free will" has gotten lost in the noise.

 

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