“If these [believers] be mad, then madness is more beautiful, more reasonable, more beneficent, more effective than sanity.” – Charles Raven
Of the three elements that draw us to faith – beauty, goodness and truth – truth seems the most difficult to define or explain. And to some, truth ranks third of the three. Beauty doesn’t need any explanation, after all. It draws through the senses without words. And goodness is largely the outward sign of inner beauty, is it not?
So what of truth?
I’m thinking of a conversation I had by radio Monday with the former staunch atheist Jennifer Fulwiler (Conversion Diary). For Jennifer, truth eventually rose to the top of the three in her journey toward the believing world. For most of her life, Jennifer felt religion attracted the unintelligent who needed to make themselves feel better about the inevitability of death. To comfort themselves, they created a fantasy about an “after-life.” (Heaven: the true Never Neverland.)
Problem was, deep down inside, she wasn’t content. Something was missing – something that startled her awake more often than not in the middle of the night and left her with an odd sense of panic and un-resolve.
One of the first moments she began to question her long-held beliefs was while gazing upon her firstborn baby minutes after her birth. The beauty, the goodness of that child drew her in, and she began to wonder, what if there is something more and I’m staring at one of the products of it? Her tiny, vulnerable child opened up for her one of the first doors leading to faith.
Jennifer started looking into religion, beginning with Christianity, since it was the one religion whose founder had claimed he was, in fact, God. In addition, her husband had grown up in a Christian (albeit nominally so) home and yet she’d been attracted to him.True, he’d since abandoned the faith, but maybe it was safe enough to at least explore…
In the end, Jennifer came to Christianity because of the truth she began to see laid out as she examined, book by book, its foundation; not necessarily by looking to see how Joe X was living out his life, or whether Jane Y seemed to be getting it right (or not), but how the faith is meant to be lived as designed by its founder, Jesus the Christ. Catholicism in particular drew her because, she has said, it was so incredibly cohesive, so expertly woven together, that it soon became more impossible to argue against its believability. It also proclaimed to be “the one true Church” – a rather bold proclamation; just as bold as its founder claiming to be God. In the end, He’s either God, or not, and the Church is either true, or not. Too many factors pointed to the former, so Jennifer eventually took the leap of faith.
And in time, a beautiful thing happened, she later recounted. She began sleeping well again, the only midnight awakenings occurring because of the needs of her small children.
Not all would be so similarly drawn, because truth does not carry the same amount of significance to everyone. But I am one to whom it does make a difference. For me, truth stands solidly at the top of the three and binds all together, since beauty, truth and goodness are inextricably part of one package of faith.
Truth is not relative. It is not something that shifts with the wind, or with society’s particular leaning. It is enduring, for all time. Truth is the mind of God made manifest in our lives. And we need it in great doses in order to live a life of goodness and beauty.
In other words, truth isn’t the questionable variable – it’s the foundation of our faith that guides what we’re meant to be at our optimal.
All religions contain pieces of the truth, and every human being is born with truth at his or her core, but it needs to be understood and nourished within the context of the Creator’s perfect design. Catholicism, for me, contains the largest number of pieces of truth. It draws on an incredibly rich history, an enduring story of saints and sinners all, and its lineage can be traced back to Christ himself, as well as to Peter, our first Pope, and the unbroken line of successors that can be followed to the present.Wow — if that isn’t a mind-boggling truth, I don’t know what is!
I need frequent assurance as I walk the life of faith, and the Church gives it to me, time and again. Whenever I’ve had a question about my faith and have earnestly sought the answer through the Church, I’ve never failed to find it and so much more.
I know that as I live out my faith and express it through writing, I risk looking a bit loony at times. When I share the zeal I have for Christ, some may think me a bit odd, perhaps even deceived. I may well be high on my faith, but rest assured, having God as my drug of choice is not a bad deal, not by a long shot.
Charles Raven once said, “If these [believers] be mad, then madness is more beautiful, more reasonable, more beneficent, more effective than sanity.”
That’s where I began, and it’s where I’ll end. Though some may call me cooky because of my faith, I’m with Raven on this one: there’s no more magnificent way to live.