Faith: A Introduction
Mike Mosher and Tamara Watkins
You say you've lost your faith, but that's not where its at
You have no faith to lose, and ya know it
--Bob Dylan, "Positively 4th Street" (1966)
Do you have faith in the United States' new President? Do you have faith in the voting process and the Electoral College? Do you have faith in the local police, or local government to preserve your neighborhood's character? Do you have faith in your skills, education, and training to make a career for yourself in a roiling, shifting society? Do you have faith in a God or gods, comfort feeling spiritual-but-not-religious?
After the 2004 election, when America clearly defined itself as blue states and red states, the latter distinguishing themselves from the secular others in their adoption of patriarchal anti-choice restrictions and anti-LGBT "marriage definition" laws, Bad Subjects assembled its #72 Jesuslands issue. In #91 Faith, we revisit many of these ideas a dozen years later, with the Obama years in the rearview mirror and the Trump years in front of us.
In "Faith Moved Me to Action: My Bernie Story", Mike Mosher tells of local activism on behalf of the the socialist who was supposed to be President. And in "Lucky Luther", a younger Mike reflect on a famous young man's spiritual crisis.
In "Notes from an Organizer: How to Love a Fascist", Whitney Dziurka contemplates love in a choleric time.
Tamara Watkins also considers the connections between faith and science while recounting her research trip to the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, in Adventures in Young Earth Creationism".
In "God-ness", Rosalie G. Riegle discusses how her Catholic faith and anti-war activism dovetail.
In "Inactive Faith, Parts I & II", Christi Griffis reflects on the vastly different experiences with faith she has had throughout her life.
Steve Martinot laments "The Surreality of the Actual" in his northern California.
Thomas Powell notes Chinese citizens' faith they'll find sufficient "Living Space and Parking Space in China."
Bill Carney tells of "The Electrifying Mojo", whose blend of funk and techno (European and homegrown) kept faith in a de-industrialized city and its radio-umbrella environs.
Zuzula enlightens us with "Catching a Bus", a moment of clarity if not faith, where the bottle replaces sustaining, meaningful employment in the North American Rustbelt.
We're also aware of what we don't have in this issue. We'd hoped for a contribution on Black Lives Matter, one of the most significant political movements of this time, motivated by the faith that speaking truth to power (and recording and publicizing phone-cam video of killings and abuses) will reign in police killings and unnecessary violence against African Americans. And the personal testimonies ofk religious faith are here based in Christianity, realizing how many faiths of the world are outside those traditions. (Look through Bad Subjects archives for good secular pieces by Joe Lockard, Joel Schalit and others on Israeli politics; one other former editor became a Rabbi.
Think how President Trump's travel ban must have strained the faith that many Muslims had in the United States' living up to its ideals.
Faith comes in many forms. It can be shaped, challenged, encouraged, destroyed. Angered by hypocrisy in post-Civil War America, Col. Henry Steel Olcott travled from New Jersey to Sri Lanka in the 1880s to preach Buddhism and organize anti-colonialist riots against "our common enemy, Christianity". So has the current international political climate, post-Trump election and post-Brexit, cost you your faith? Well, consider the words of 13th-century Persian scholar-poet Jalaluddin Rumi:
Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don't open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down the dulcimer.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
So while we advocate organizing, fueled by righteous anger, also rock that dulcimer for creativity and inspiration. Punctuated by moments of humble gratitude for blessings of whatever tenuous first-world prosperity we enjoy, please join in a lot more marching, struggling and standing firm until justice, equality and decent living standards are universal.
Have faith, in whatever form you choose.
--February 14, 2017