The past few days I’ve been mulling over what it is I’m trying to do with my writing. It seems to me that much of my writing centers around the theme of purpose. The characters in my stories are trying to be successful in life. But what exactly does it mean to be a success? Isn’t it, like so many other things, a relative notion? The shifting sand of reality thwarts our search for purpose by redefining it at key moments of our lives. Just when we think we have reached a goal that took years to attain or the fulfillment of a dream, the sand moves us, altering our perception of what it means to have purpose.
Faith, as Richard Niebuhr defines it, is center of value and loyalty. I appreciate that definition. It’s based on the premise that each individual has a center of value, something which they hold as the center of their being, their purpose. For some it’s God. For others, it’s family. Still others, it’s a goal or and idea. But everyone has a center of value, that thing that has a personal value above all else. (Loyalty refers to the devotion of the individual to their center of value.) Faith, then, moves beyond the realm of religion and into the practicality of our lives. Faith is not dependent on religion even though religion requires faith. Faith speaks to every individual. It defines our purpose.
I wonder what can occur that would alter a person’s faith. What circumstances undermine our faith or cause us to lose it completely? How can it be regained? Faith is essential to humanity. It makes us human. For that reason it must be cherished, even coveted. Certainly it advises the stories I write.