Isn't it odd that online public profiles freely divulge a torrent of personal detail, but matters of faith are taboo? Pastor Mark Ferry calls this "editing out God." This statement is my response to his challenge. (I in turn challenge you, fretful reader, to do the same.)
In American culture, religion and politics make for awkward dinner conversation. But leaving a dinner party early is equally awkward, at least compared to hitting the back button on your web browser. So here I have no polite excuse for keeping quiet, even if my beliefs might annoy or bore you.
I profess the faith of the Roman Catholic Church, in whose community I weekly celebrate and commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The ancient Nicene Creed still nicely summarizes my beliefs.
I accept the Church's teachings on matters of faith and morals. In conversation I don't harp on one issue at the expense of others. I don't imagine that solving a particular one will produce utopia, or even that they can be solved in isolation. Of course, this leaves me vulnerable to the charge of being Mr Sensible from C.S. Lewis's The Pilgrim's Regress.
I was brought up in the Catholic faith, right after the upheaval of Vatican II. The earliest hymnody that I remember is mostly by Bob Dylan. This was later balanced with six years of plainchant, Palestrina, and Poulenc at St Michael's Choir School.
I've learned a thing or two about other Christians from a succession of Protestant roommates, one of whom is now a pastor, and another of whom merits a word stronger than roommate as we've exchanged certain vows.
Faith must be more than assenting to certain statements. If that assent has no practical implication for everyday decisions, small or large, then what use is it? Again borrowing from C.S. Lewis, every decision that I make changes me more towards worship of God, or towards worship of Me. So my faith is lived out in each moment, from how I phrase this sentence to how I invest my paycheck. This then strengthens my faith, like pasting on a smile helps you actually feel happy.
But faith is not just practical psychology. Like so many things, it is an unearned gift from God to have a relationship with him.
More simply: faith is being able to talk with God, ask questions, report successes, whimper over failures, ask for forgiveness, or just sit quietly. Faith means relating to God exactly how you relate to someone you love.
Two ways in which I talk lovingly with God are public liturgy (organist and songleader), and private and small-group lectio divina and centering prayer.