A couple of days ago, the New York Times posted an article on Woody Allen. It was entitled, "Woody Allen on Faith, Fortune Tellers and New York." The article was an interview with Mr. Allen timed around his new movie "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger" is being released.
Now I will be honest, I am not a huge Woody Allen fan. His movies have been interesting over the years, but mostly I find myself sad when I watch them. So I usually make a decision to see something else.
I read the article because I usually read articles that have "faith" flagged in the title. I am interested in how we people see, hear, understand and acknowledge faith from a variety of perspectives. I was not looking for anything in particular, just curious as to what Woody Allen would have to say about faith.
I wasn't surprised by he said, but his statements made me uneasy, saddened and disappointed. Here's an excerpt from the article: “To me,” Mr. Allen said, “there’s no real difference between a fortune teller or a fortune cookie and any of the organized religions. They’re all equally valid or invalid, really. And equally helpful.”
REALLY? A fortune cookie is as helpful as faith? Then Mr Allen said, "I was interested in the concept of faith in something. This sounds so bleak when I say it, but we need some delusions to keep us going. And the people who successfully delude themselves seem happier than the people who can’t."
You can read the article for yourself, mostly I found it incredibly sad. I am sure Mr. Allen would say that I am one of those who deludes herself. Instead, I would describe myself and others with faith as those open to possibilities that defy explanation. All the science in the world cannot truly explain the wonder and joy of a sunrise or sunset. There is not way to explain the delight when a child says "i wuv u" the first time or the depth of understanding a long relationship shares.
I could go on. My point is that fortune cookie paper (as fun as they are) in no way defines the values and the faith that guide my life. I would not make a decision based on a fortune cookie or a fortune teller. I would base it on multiple resources within myself, my family and my faith community.
The psalmist writes that all of us long for God, that we thirst, we hunger for the One who knows us better than we know ourselves. I may not always be able to articulate that experience of God, but that does not invalidate it. I stake everything I know to be true and good and real on faith.
"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." One can not see hope, or love or faith. Yet, our lives are infinitely better because of them. In some ways, it is love, it is hope and it is faith that changes lives, that changes our world into a better place. Otherwise, we get stuck into a cynical, dark world view. Nothing changes, nothing matters, no point in trying or attempting to do anything to change the world.
I do not intend to live like that. I have faith that God loves me and loves the world. I believe that faith can generate the passion and the power to create a world where people are valued, are loved and justice and peace reign. I may not live to see it in my life time, but I believe, I know that I am part of a people of faith that have, that do and that will continue to change this world for the better.
Graced to Serve