The Value and Challenges of Faith from 240505 Gathering

Faith Insight Shared at the Community Gathering of May 5 2024

The Video for this insight can be viewed at

In the Inspiration shared in April 2024, Sacred Breeze was described as a ministry with a goal of seeking out and embracing the Spirit of unconditional inclusive love that is part of all faith traditions. 

While we support inclusive, unconditional love in all faiths, one cannot help but notice that faith itself has suffered greatly over the past few decades.  A lot of people have given up on faith altogether, and even people who participate in traditions like Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and even Hinduism and Buddhism, increasingly seem to be fearfully circling wagons for protection, rather than connecting and reaching out in faith.

Loss of faith is not surprising given the claims that have been made about faith in the past.  In Christianity, just around the year 2000, something called a prosperity gospel was introduced.  This prosperity gospel promised great wealth, health, and even miraculous powers, if a person would just offer their thoughts, hearts, and souls, in addition to substantial monetary offerings, to their faith.

And then what happened?  In the US, on September 11 2001, the attack on the World Trade Center in New York happened. 

Faith was understandably shaken.  We tithed, we offered ourselves heart and soul, we did all the right things.  Why did God allow us to be attacked?  When prosperity gospel leaders were asked “why did this happen?”, they responded with finger pointing and blame.  Blame Islam!  Blame the Muslims!  Blame LGBTQ people! Blame immigrants! And of course, there were similar voices in other faiths.  Not happy with life?  Not reaping the rewards your faith promised?  Blame the west!  Blame Christianity!  Blame Judaism! Blame Hinduism! As an example, in the Kashmir region between India and Pakistan, where Muslim, Christian, and Hindu children played soccer together happily for hundreds of years, faiths were polarized and families were forced into exile. 

Radical factions gained power in all faiths, including Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism.  Families of all faiths were displaced everywhere, from Myanmar to Sudan to Palestine, all in the name of faith.  And the conflicts, deaths, and displacements continue to this day.

Even beyond the global issues of conflict and displacement, many, many people have suffered from within their faiths and cultures of origin.  Abuse of LGBTQ people, women, abuse of children, abuse of power in general are common stories throughout all faiths and cultures. 

Its no wonder many people have given up on faith altogether.  If this is what faith is about, conflict, displacement, and abuse, who needs it?

If we go back to the promises of the prosperity gospel, let’s take a look at how conditions have changed 24 years later.  We’re not rich.  We’re not enjoying miraculous powers, in fact we’re getting older and weaker.  People of my generation, so called Boomers, are watching family and friends fade and pass away.  As is the natural course of things in this universe. 

In the wake of prosperity gospel, turning to a gospel of blame and fear hasn’t helped either.  Conflict, death, displacement, and suffering are increasing worldwide. 

So, why bother with faith at all?  Why even consider faith, even in the context of unconditional, inclusive love?

Many books, sermons, and songs have been written with the intention of presenting evidence for why faith has value.  Unfortunately, most if not all those works are self-referential, that is they use the sacred writings of whatever faith they espouse to prove each their own particular faith.  There are anecdotal stories of course of miraculous revelations, epiphanies, and even physical miracles, and to be honest I have a few of those stories to share myself.  But by definition anecdotal stories are self-referential as well, and not backed up with any kind of reproducible evidence.

But scientific evidence of the value of faith actually does exist.  For example, the placebo effect, which provides well documented evidence that believing in, for example, the healing effects of medications, can provide relief from symptoms and accelerate healing even if the medication is a sugar pill. 

There are also millions of people in 12 step recovery groups who readily describe the value of acknowledging a “higher power” through which to surrender burdens and receive comfort, confidence, and resilience to carry on one day at a time.  Similarly, perhaps billions of “people of faith” who continue to have faith in inclusive, unconditional love expressed in each their own religion and culture can testify to much the same, a sense of abiding comfort, inspiration, and resilience in facing the daily challenges of life.

If one wants to delve into sacred scripture, in Christianity Jesus is often quoted as saying “Your faith has made you whole.”  Even Jesus proclaimed the value of faith.

Clearly, faith itself has value, even if specific anecdotal claims are met with justified skepticism.

The big question is, faith in what?  While all faiths claim to have the “right path” to miraculous powers and healings, to wealth, to God, to Nirvana and enlightenment, all faiths also have exclusivist conflict, displacement, and abuse. 

As humans, we lift up what we value.  And we do so within the context of our lives, the customs and cultures we are familiar with.  Within the cultures of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and all others, there are many people who lift up the values of inclusive and unconditional love.  Within the existential conditions that characterize living in this universe, of loss, of grief, addiction, and suffering, people find hope.  People find relief from suffering, and even healing and reconciliation through faith in inclusive, unconditional love.

OK, now I can hear the voices of protest.  You probably can also hear them, perhaps in your own head.  Jesus is the light, the truth and the way.  There is but one God, Allah.  Hear my people Israel, our God is one.  And even from Buddhism, Buddha the Conqueror reveals the path to release from Samsara. 

As a Christian, I can believe that Jesus is the light, the truth, and the way, and that the Holy Spirit reveals herself through everyone from every culture who is kind, generous, peaceful, patient, and loving.  I can see the light of Christ shining through peace makers from any culture.

The same can be said from the perspective of all religions and cultures.  Grace, Ar Rahim, Chesed, and Dharma are expressed through every culture.  There is a Spirit who speaks to every human heart, calling us to love one another.

This is the value that is worthy of lifting up.  This is the faith worthy of human hearts.  This is the faith that rests in the Holy of Holies.

Faith in unconditional, inclusive love has value.  Christian scripture says that genuine Divine Spirit shares the gifts of hope, faith, and love.  And where the seeds of hope, faith, and love are planted, the fruits of love, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control spring forth. 

I personally think all faiths have value and speak truth.  I think that the Hindu / Buddhist culture of releasing ego centered attachments opens the heart to accepting the faith and Grace of Judeo-Christian-Islamic faiths.  And all faiths, from the eight-fold path of Buddhism to the Alms giving pillar of Islam, express the necessity to share the creative and material gifts cultivate with others lest fortunate. 

Jesus said seek and ye shall find.  Faith is, in a way, a process of seeking.  For those seeking darkness, fear, and reasons to hate, there is plenty.  For those seeking Grace, even in the darkest of times, Grace Abides.  Unconditional, inclusive love is worth the effort.

The fear centered division in this world is alarming.  The survival instincts that are a part of every living creature cry out “be afraid, the enemy is near.”  Billions are spent on ever more sophisticated machines and weapons of death.  Wars seem to be never ending.  Meanwhile, refugees, homeless people, and working families struggle to just put food on the table and maintain a roof overhead.  

In contrast, the still small voice of authentic Spirit whispers “Have a little faith.  Love one another.  We’re all in this together.  We’re all afraid of the same things. Have some compassion.” 

Until we meet again, may the Spirit of Grace soften our hearts just a little.  May we take the time and make the effort to be kind in response to impatience and hostility.  May we have the faith to forgive when our natural response is to react.  May we recognize inclusive, unconditional love abiding in the fabric of the universe, and may we recognize peace, joy, and reconciling love as it abides in us. 


Posted by admin on 5 May 2024 in Category Insights    •••    The Value and Challenges of Faith from 240505 Gathering / Insights

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