The difference between faith and belief is one of those loopholes which has long kept me out of trouble among my more pious clergy friends.  I’m always getting yelled at about things I write. It’s fun; it’s sort of like ecclesial bumper cars.

I love loopholes.  They can be so fun and helpful.  When I was a child in the 70’s and was told to go to bed at the end of a show, I could always tell if there was an “Epilogue” – one of the first big words I ever learned.  It was, back when we watched TV with commercials, the last bit of a show after the final flurry of commercials, but before the end credits (remember those?)

Mum would say “That’s the end! Go to bed.” And I would say “It’s not the end, there’s an epilogue.” And then Mum would yell at Dad for teaching me big words Epilogue… “now! …will you look at this word, your son’s throwing back at me!”  I was always “your son” when I was in trouble.  I was also always in trouble.  Still am really.  So fun!

I’m having more and more trouble with belief these days and so, love the “faith” loophole.  Do I believe in God saving only some good Christians on a planet of 8 billion people and many more gazillion animals? Well, I have faith that all will be well, somehow.  Is that enough?  Not for some I suppose.

Do I believe in sin and forgiveness of sin? Well, I have faith that a loving creator would not harm its creations, mistakes or not. Is that enough?  Not for some I suppose.

Do I believe that God loves me more if I go to church to suck down bread, wine and horrible coffee than if I am all happy and soft by spending a Sunday Morning in my pottery studio or on a walk in the forest with a lovely ham sandwich with mayo on thin bread, just the way I like it? Is that enough?  Not for some I suppose.

I pulled this platter out of the kiln the other day. I had used two glazes, one over the other – an experiment.  They fell and swirled and in one place, the glaze took on a silver metallic luster – an accident of the kiln much-prized in Asia. I had planned for the plate to be dark blue, but the kiln had a different idea. I believed the plate would be dark blue, but I found I had faith that it would simply be – mysterious silver and flowing colors not-withstanding.

We have all had about a year without dogma, without sermons, without pulpit-scoldings, without “be baptized or you’ll not be in a state of grace.” Do I believe in “a state of grace?” Well, I have faith in one, even if I define it differently.

Is that good enough?  Not for some I suppose. I find it hard to believe in a mystery let alone be sure of its dogma.  But I am happy to have faith in one.

That platter came out of my kiln much better than I could have imagined.  Our souls are similar, I think. What I had done to glaze it should not have resulted in this much beauty.  But miraculously, it did.

Do I believe in heaven? I have faith in the unity we call “God” working things out. That will have to be enough. 

The Daily Sip is a series of short-form essays written by Charles LaFond, a potter, writer, and fundraiser; who lives with his dog Sugar on a cliff, on one of the more than 400 islands in the Salish Sea, pondering and writing about how to be a better human, but often failing. And sometimes not.

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