Unpublished: Faith as Hallowing

Faith, as I've come to see it, is less about believing in objects existing or not existing than it is about valuation.

To be a human being we have to add value to the world. Otherwise the world is just a swirling mass of elementary particles with each particle, to use religious language, no more holy or sacred than any other. To be human is to lay value on top of existence. And everyone does this, consciously or unconsciously.

Faith is the activity of hallowing, the practice of picking out patterns from the indifferent egalitarianism of particle physics to say that these things are sacred, these things are holy, these things are worthy of honor, these things are worthy of care, these things are worthy of emulation, and these things make us human.

Faith, then, is any reflective and intentional system of valuation. And more.

Faith is a system of valuation that is accompanied by personal and social rituals that help inculcate and form the values of interest. Such rituals are especially important if the valuation being aimed at goes against the grain of self-interest, as it does in the Christian faith. Learning to hallow in a certain way, for some faiths, is very difficult, unnatural and effortful. Faith, then, is a lifelong process of being shaped into a certain kind of human being. Faith posits avenues of formation, personal and corporate pathways to move us closer to the things we value. These are rituals and liturgies, repetitive habit-forming activities that remind us of our values, shape the virtues needed to embody our values, and create experiences where the values are physically enacted, where you are literally practicing what you are preaching.

And, finally, faith incorporates a diagnostic element, an account of human nature and social life that attempts to explain why the values we are striving for are hard to attain. Faith gives an account about why the things that make us most human are not natural and require enormous effort. For example, if one values, honors and hallows something like kindness faith will give an account about why kindness is so hard, why it is so scarce, and why it will take a lifetime of training to become more and more kind.

--from an unpublished post experimenting with a definition of faith, faith as valuation and hallowing

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3 thoughts on “Unpublished: Faith as Hallowing”

  1. I'm interested in your use of 'human being' in the last couple of posts that seems to indicate it is something that we do rather than something we are. Is this new? I am wondering about the embedded risk of dehumanizing when we define it this way. If I need to be relaxed or add value in order to be a human being, what am I when I am not and/or do not?

  2. I'm really glad I went back to check your blog to see if there were any gems I missed.

    I find that gem. <3 Thanks.

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