“…faithless and therefore trustworthy…”

A couple of people (who just happen to be my awesome dad and my lovely wife) have questioned in their comments what this phrase from my last post means. Rather than respond in the comments, I will do it in a post so that everyone can easily find it if they are interested. Maybe it will open up a new forum of conversation.

I have an idea of what I think it means, and it is very pertinent to the change that I have undergone in 2007, as is much of the poem. I really like the phrase immediately before this one in the same section. This year has brought about the experience of having to disappoint another in order to be true to myself. I know very much what that feels like. It felt lonely when I had to make the decision to do it. And it still hurts a little, especially when I realize that this someone doesn’t really understand my honest explanation for why it had to happen. So I am living the experience of this verse, and it makes sense to me because of that.

“…faithless and therefore trustworthy…” to me takes this concept a little farther. Too often, we humans mindlessly fall onto a path of belief for any number of reasons. For a quadrazillion reasons actually. And we don’t often think through why we may believe certain things or not believe other things. This is exactly partly where I found myself, now nearly a year ago, and wanted desperately to get off that path. Iphoto-8.jpgt is part of the fuel behind the radical change of 2007. I have said that I wanted to own my faith, that I wanted to know why I believe what I believe, that I didn’t want to just in blind faith follow what was handed down to me. It needed to be mine. It is what prompted me to read the God Delusion by Dawkins and Mere Christianity by Lewis. It is what prompted me to explore.

I think “faithless” here refers to an individual who is not blindly prescribing to a system of belief without having thoroughly examined it. In essence they are faithless not because they have no faith, but because they have owned their faith and made it something that is unique to them. They are not subscribing fully to a set school of thought or belief system. Instead they have thought through it and taken bits of this school of thought and have owned it, and they have taken bits of that school of thought and have owned that, and they have maybe even come up with some of their own ideas. So faithless refers to someone who is owning their own faith, not just picking up some mantra of some other established faith and joining the masses. That is they way I want my faith to be.

So by being faithless in this sense, one has separated one’s self out as someone who thinks for themselves rather than someone who without forethought follows a system of belief just because it was passed off to them or handed to them.  This sort of person can be seen as more trustworthy than the one who just jumps on whatever bang wagon is near.  That is how I interpret “…faithless and therefore trustworthy…”


9 responses to ““…faithless and therefore trustworthy…”

  1. Faith is less important than the truth, which should be respected rather than owned. Try Carl Sagan’s Demon-Haunted World or Daniel Dennett’s Breaking The Spell.

  2. I understand your point. The truth is most important and it should be sought relentlessly. The problem I have with Sagan and Dennet (and Dawkins and etc…) is that they believe that the only truth lies in what can be objectively proven. When one holds that belief, you close yourself off to any truth that may lie outside of what can be proven. If we are mainly about searching for and respecting truth, we should be willing to look for it wherever it may lay. I don’t think Sagan and Dennet and Dawkins are willing to go there. That being said, I certainly am not opposed to reading them and have do so because I believe that we all contain bits of the truth that we can discover only if we respectfully engage one another. I really like what you say about truth being respected rather than owned. Thanks for commenting.

  3. paulscarlett

    Hey, thanks for this – yes I know I am about 4 years late, but I figured you needed to know your thoughts still make people think. I was thinking that it was better to be failthFUL (to a cause or person) and therefore trustworthy, but I really enjoyed your take and agree, that if you don’t blindly hold to any code, you can be trusted to be true to you. Hopefully the people near and dear to you know you and what you stand for, so they feel their trust is not misplaced…

  4. i, too, seem to have arrived late to this party…but yes, your thoughts are still relevant. i’d been struggling to grasp what exactly oriah meant by this statement. sometimes you need to borrow someone else’s glasses in order to see the big picture more clearly. thanks for sharing.

  5. Thank you! I get it and I also get the part about disappointing another and being accused of betrayal in order to not betray my own soul. I’d read the book a number of years ago, but the poem has surfaced tonight and is appropriate for many reasons on this day! Blessings!

  6. Just read The Invitation for the very first time and couldn’t wrap my head around being faithless! Thank you for posting this so that I could examine with more clarity the meaning carried in that phrase. Extremely thought provoking and challenging!

  7. I too was looking for what was meant by ‘faithless therefore trustworthy’. My first thought was what you said. If I don’t find the author’s definition somewhere, I am good with that interpretation.

  8. Am planning to use The Invitation for a class and was also glad to find your interpretation. I first heard the poem 20+ years ago, but it continues to circle through my life. Much wisdom there. Thank you.

  9. Oriah responds to this phrase in depth in her book of the same name of the poem.. as she received MANY questions over the years from people wanting to better understand what she meant. You can find The Invitation at most book stores, or on Amazon of course.

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