The other day, a tweet showed up in my Twitter timeline:
“Faith is the refuge of the small mind.”
It was one in a series of tweets and retweets that someone I follow—an atheist—was posting. He was not trying to be rude or disrespectful, though some of the postings (such as this one) did touch a raw nerve in me.
At first, I was a little perturbed. One thing atheists I have known are keen to harp on is religious intolerance to certain lifestyles and diverging viewpoints. A blanket statement that someone who has faith in a higher power is small-minded seems to smack of the same sort of hypocrisy and intolerance atheists preach against. Yes, there are bigoted religious people. There are also bigoted atheists. I’m not a fan of generalizations and blanket statements from or about any one class of people.
Once I got over being miffed and slightly offended, I kept mulling the statement over and over in my head. It just felt wrong, like it a malapropism or mixed metaphor does. And it made me sad that someone would believe that.
It’s a terrible mischaracterization of what it means to have faith. Faith is not the refuge of a small mind. It’s the refuge of a broken soul, that comforting and guiding hand that shelters us in crises. That counts our tears and points us to the light.
Faith is believing in something or someone greater than you and this world. It’s optimism, hopefulness, acceptance, and redemption. It’s believing that no matter how badly you may mess things up, you will be forgiven, you will be given another chance, and you will always be loved. Faith is anathema to the small mind because to truly have faith, you have to open your mind to all possibilities. Faith is belief in the absence of evidence, and how can someone with a narrow or small mind truly profess to have faith? For we don’t know God’s plan, we aren’t intended to know. We are supposed to know that He has one, and that it’s for our benefit, and we are called to accept His will.
Faith transcends religion. Perhaps that person meant to say that religion was the refuge of the small mind. I still don’t agree with the sentiment, but I can see that point of view. Many believe they have faith and are acting in accordance with their particular religious doctrines, but neglect honest spirituality. Because faith and spirituality in God and Christ and the Holy Trinity aren’t about a prescribed set of rules that we must follow. Surely, they are guidelines to help us live the way God wants us to (according to our own religions), but they are not meant to supersede the greatest Commandments:
“He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.’” (Mt 22:37-40 NAB)
Faith is the refuge of those who love. For it’s in our love for God and for one another that we will find peace, solace, and acceptance. That requires a large heart, not a small mind.