Beyond Compare

I received a message asking, amongst other things:

What if Islam is true? What if Buddhism is true? Atheism? How can you be so sure of your Catholicism when there are thousands of religions and world-views you have not even encountered?

I am thankful in the extreme that the question seeks the source of my surety and certainty in the Church, and not my factual reasons for being a Catholic. If the latter was emphasized, I would have to give up from the onset, the answer too big for the question. But this demand that I explain my indecent bravado in the face of a million different world-views, this I can meet, with an answer appropriately portioned to Internet appetites.

If a man is so foolish in the ways of this world as to fall in love with a woman, it is not out of a comparative sampling of all other women. If he calls her beautiful, his confidence in her beauty does not spring from her relative position to others. Rather, his decision to value the girl, to orient his life towards her, to believe in her, to bet his life on her — all this springs forth from a delight in the fact of her existence. Love exists outside of the category of comparison, where the truth and worth of a thing are validated by its reference to the truth and the worth of other things. Love’s object is the beloved in herself.

This is not to say comparisons are impossible, only that the heart of love is an encounter with a particular person, and particular people are precisely that — particular, unique, dissimilar, loved for being themselves — not for being like or unlike another. That a comparatively more beautiful, gracious, and stunning person might exist some where “out there” is hardly considered, not out of some factual certainty such a person does not exist, but because it is precisely the particular beauty and graciousness of the particular beloved that is of interest.

This is the failure of the phrase “there are other fish in the sea.” It makes sense to the platitude-preacher. He has a cool, objective view of his neighbor’s heartbreak. But for the man in love, the fact that his love’s loss has made apparent the “other fish in the sea” is the very pain of it. He has exited the category of love and entered the category of comparison. The one for him has become one amongst others. We’ll leave Romeo to whine about it at proper pitch and passion.

The truth is that Catholicism is first and foremost an affair of love. Its edict is “love God” and “love your neighbor,” commanded by a Creator who is Love, loving His creation even unto death with a love we acknowledge, celebrate and participate in through visible signs of love we call the sacraments. It is an erotic phenomenon before it is an assent to a series of claims regarding man, his world, and his wonderful God — though it is all these things and more. Simply put, Catholicism does not exist within the category of comparison.

I understand that this may wring as wishy — or worse, washy — to Christians and atheists alike, reminiscent more of Bob Marley’s “Love is My Religion” than any manifesto all faith-defending and “ass-kicking for Jesus’ sake.” We may be more inclined to say, “I am Catholic over any other religion because, first and foremost, I have found Catholicism to be true.” I do not disagree, but I do wish to deepen. For our knowledge of truth is preceded by a love for truth. Truth is experienced as the fulfillment of desire. Knowledge is a satisfaction of what is prior, namely, a desire for knowledge. Only because we our born reaching do we ever find. To say that “I am Catholic because I have found Catholicism to be true” is to say that Catholicism fulfills and further inspires a longing and a desire, what we would call eros.

This is not, perhaps, a satisfying answer to the question. It doesn’t make my religion true. It is, however, an explanation of why neither I nor the Catholics I know are bitten at night by the various forms of Shintoism we have no knowledge of, the more resplendent forms of atheism we have not yet taken a crack at understanding, or any of an infinite list of other possible belief systems. Sure, we doubt. We question it all to pieces and try to build it up again in hopeless schemas and systems we end wishing we could burn up like straw. But we don’t feel the need to verify our faith against all others. From some grand, objective view of things, perhaps Catholicism is a belief system, one amongst many, to be chosen by a careful evaluation of its “system” relative to others. From the inside, from the alternatively clouded and radiant and always awful task of actually being the thing, we are in love.          

Sexuality and the Land
Why I Can’t Conceive of De-conversion
Presence as Absence
Selling Our Sins
  • John Paul

    This is utterly stupid.

  • John Paul

    Sorry…this is what I’m specifically referring to…
    “If a man is so foolish in the ways of this world as to fall in love with a woman, it is not out of a comparative sampling of all other women.”

    As if we don’t enough problems in the church with all of our gay priests and child abusers, statements like this are exactly the problem. It’s time for priests to marry, and “be so foolish as to fall in love with a woman.” Instead of the priesthood being full of closet homosexuals and pedophiles. Idiots like you are the problem with our Church.

    • Kevin

      Despite the fact that his has absolutely NO relevancy to the article, I’ll bite. Priestly celibacy has been around for over 1000 years. Priestly child abuse has been around more or less only the last 50-60 years. By what stretch of reason do you think married priests will decrease child abuse.

      Are you trying to say that if only those pedophiles had been married, their disordered desires would be stymied? That men are just sex-crazed animals that, if they are not satisfied by a woman, they would be carried out through anything else, even children? Or even that married men have lesser rates of child-abuse than priests (here’s a hint: they don’t).

      Go away, troll.

    • Lucifer

      Well… I guess I fail to see why a gay man would be less of a priest, or a man for that matter… The fact that you would consider them so says something about the universality that your “Church” tries to claim… Go ahead, throw out some Bible verses about their subhuman status, if that helps solidify your worldview…

      • Kevin

        From the Catechism: The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

        Not subhuman, but merely human. All have trials – those with same-sex attraction have a particular one.

        • Kevin

          Please note that the second paragraph are my words, not the Catechism’s. Forgot to add quotations.

        • Jarred

          Exactly. “People do not hate the church, they hate what they THINK the church is”. Sometimes I wish I could have a dollar every time I get the same objection based on the same misunderstanding…It’s so common you could write a flowchart and script for it…wait a minute…apologetics via flowchart – brilliant!

          • Lucifer

            The human heart does not need flow charts or a quoted catechism to see Catholicism… it needs connection, it needs acceptance, and unconditional love… Until that is understood, words and flow charts will be flat, empty, and despair inducing. The Church we wish it was is not always the Church that is… very much in the same way that the person we wish we were is not always the person that we are. A life of poverty, chastity, and obedience begins with humility. There is no greater apologetic than humility. Rather than “I can’t believe they don’t get it–guys, just don’t have sex forever and you are good!” Wow. Thanks for wrapping up personhood, the longing for intimacy, and desire for someone to share a life with into a sexual act. I was once on your team… and then I realized that telling someone that their life demanded celibacy to be acceptable to God was probably not my place–considering how popular celibacy is among the contemporary heterosexual community…

          • Jarred

            Yes, in the end it is about building a relationship with the person of Christ as well as one another. I apologize for the lack in refinement in my “woman at the well speak” – I truly do not believe that apologetics can be reduced to bumper sticker slogans as that in itself objectifies the person who I am talking. Our first step is establishing that brotherly love with each other and speaking from there – each person is an individual so there is no cookie-cutter method. That being said, there are common misconceptions which at least give us a jumping off point (I have to know which well to meet you
            Now to address celibacy – it is not for everyone – as sex is beautiful and needed. For those who are called to celibacy – it is not because we think sex is evil and must stay away – they actually are giving up a good which really places them to have amazing and unique graces…one of which I call “the unrequited lover’s heart”….Eric Berne talks about it saying: “‘the man who is loved by a woman is lucky indeed, but the one to be envied is he who loves, however little he gets in return. How much greater is Dante gazing at Beatrice than Beatrice walking by him in apparent disdain’”. It is not a death sentence to be celibate because our identity is not within only our sexuality – we are more than that… we are artists, brothers, sisters, track runners, boxers, sky divers, poets, thinkers, people who loved others deeply. I would hate to think at the end of my life on my tombstone all is written is: “here rests Jarred…yep, he liked girls”.

          • Lucifer

            The pain of loneliness and unrequited love–that’s what we have to offer… I can’t even… I won’t… Nope… Excuse me while I go pray for charity.

          • Jarred

            I think at this point we are talking past each other. And in the end I’m not here to change your mind on anything, just to give a “voice to the voiceless” as you said so that false “facts” do not rule what is being said. I truly have sorrow in my heart for “dissenters” as you stated because all deep down have some wound which they have scapegoated on faith and the church – I mean she is the best punching bag. But it is ok because realize that we all have value and that this temporary pain is part of what it is to be human. To live a constantly euphoric life would be boring. I encourage all who have been hurt in some way to keep struggling to find that truth – God is patient and will wait all of our entire lives just for us to return to Him – because in the end – regardless of sexual orientation we all will be joined in the heavenly marriage with God and are invited to come to Holy communion to God when we are able. Nothing else on earth – nothing – matters as much as that. :)

          • oregon nurse

            “Thanks for wrapping up personhood, the longing for intimacy, and desire for someone to share a life with into a sexual act.”

            It is you that has made the first 3 desires contingent on sex. If you stop and think about it you would realize you can have the first 3 in abundance. And if you gave it a second thought you would realize that there are many faithful Catholics, SSA and straight, who manage to build a very happy love-filled life without sex both by choice and by circumstances beyond their choosing. Why do you think they can do it but you can’t? What do you suppose they have that you don’t?

          • Lucifer

            “Why do you think they can do it but you can’t? What do you suppose they have that you don’t?”
            Considering this is the internet and none of us know each other’s life stories–the decision to move it to a personal level is quite frankly pathetic. To hold up another person’s life and ask someone (who you do not know) why they can’t be more like them is demeaning to the dignity of both persons.
            Your obsession to insist that a group of people not have sex is really no better than an obsession that they must have sex. I would endorse neither perspective.

          • oregon nurse

            I thought you posted a comment about you personally and I responded to what you wrote. If I was mistaken I apologize.

          • Lucifer

            If you would read starting with my original post, it was directed towards a person who felt that the priesthood should allow marriage to prevent closeted homosexuals from entering the priesthood. The point of my discussion has little regard for my lusts or yours. It has everything to do with the attitude of some within the Church that someone’s unchosen sexual orientation makes them fit or unfit to lead, to follow, to serve. It has everything to do with the notion that some loving relationship between two adults are abominations, while others are not. A life of celibate chastity is a beautiful thing indeed, yet when it comes from a place of fear and shame… not as cute–and I am not saying that all do. But some have and some do, they call them ex-Catholics- and they are typically wounded and in pain… I think those people deserve a voice instead of being called the sinners who just can’t handle the TRUTH. Perhaps you think of me as an evil dissenter, but I would merely hope that I would be giving voice to those who suffer–instead of just saying they deserve it and that’s what God wants. Maybe I am in the wrong Church.

          • oregon nurse

            I have no problem with homosexual priests. They have the same capacity to celibacy as any other priest, imo. If they are fornicating in any fashion with a minor they need to be removed and punished.

            The point I was trying to make was that difficulty or even outright suffering is involved in most forms of chastity – so what? How is that any worse than a hundred other kinds of suffering people have to deal with? Pain and suffering is a reality of life and we do our best to help people cope but we don’t give people permission to sin to escape it. That’s what SSA folks are asking the Church to do.

            Our faith gives us a purpose and an understanding of our life and its meaning that goes beyond ourselves. That’s why I asked the question “what do others have who are successfully living without sexual partners?” I would say faith and a relationship with God that places trust in His Word – seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened. Too many people approach chastity as something impossible to do when it’s clearly not and they are clearly not that special or unique nor are they beyond the reach of Grace.

          • Lucifer

            I think what those with “SSA” are trying to do is promote acceptance of a historically marginalized, ostracized, and scandalized group of people whose committed love shouldn’t be considered a monstrosity just because it cannot produce children. Given that currently 50% of American heterosexual marriages (with rates in Christian populations not all that much better) end in failure and no one seems to mind all that much–you know cuz marriage is hard and stuff… I don’t think we make a very compelling case for why two women or two men sharing a life together is the real abomination. But it is easy to attack the splinter in your neighbor’s eye rather than pluck the log from your own. I understand the Church’s teaching, I just think she has much much much bigger fish to fry when it comes to her teachings on pro-creative marriage than to key off with an onslaught against gay marriage as the true act of the Devil. Thus I rest my case.

        • Guest

          Yeah, the RCC’s position that homosexuality is “objectively disordered,” a “trial,” a cross to bear, is inhumane and should be abandoned.

          • oregon nurse

            I guess everyone has a personal sin they would like to say that about and have the Church abandon it as sin.

            Here, I’ll start the LIST, others can add their own

          • Guest

            Homosexuality is not a sin.

          • cestusdei

            It is an objective moral disorder.

    • Lobi

      He was joking, a witty aside, about as serious as his saying that washy is worse than wishy. He’s not saying in the slightest that men who fall in love with women are stupid. You have to quote it outside of the literary context to get that.

  • Paul H.

    Do you know what apologetics is? There are actually very good arguments as to why Catholicism is true (in comparison to other religions), though of course many of these are question-begging.

  • ladycygnus

    I understand what you are saying…but I don’t think it comes across well. I think you came closest to making sense with this line, “We may be more inclined to say, “I am Catholic over any other religion
    because, first and foremost, I have found Catholicism to be true.” I do
    not disagree, but I do wish to deepen. For our knowledge of truth is
    preceded by a love for truth.”

    I’m Catholic because I love truth and, in seeking truth, found it in the Catholic religion. I remain steadfastly Catholic (rather than constantly worry about whether X random religion is true), because I fell in love with the truth in Catholicism. That doesn’t mean I won’t read something from another religion, nor does it mean I don’t entertain doubts on occasion, but it does mean that I start from a foundation that cannot be shaken by one seemingly good argument.

    In debates I often do not have the answer to an argument, and while it bothers my pride it does not bother my faith. At one time I searched for truth and found it. Then, by delving into that truth I found a Person and fell in love. Truth and Love are two sides to this coin and even if you “ding” the truth, I’ve developed a relationship based on love, not my ability to answer every objection.

    • PaulK

      To switch up a little: “I’m married because I love truth and, in seeking truth, found it in my wife. I remain steadfastly married (rather than constantly worry about whether Scarlett Johanssen’s truths are truer), because I fell in love with the truth in my wife. That doesn’t mean I won’t occasionally watch a movie starring Scarlett Johanssen, nor does it mean I don’t entertain doubts on occasion, but it does mean that I start from a foundation that cannot be shaken by one seemingly good photo of Scarlett Johanssen.”

      I don’t see that working. The average person does not fall in love with a truth. The average person falls in love with a person. And then in allowing that love to grow and flourish, we find out more truth about the beloved.

      I think Marc nailed it. And though I completely agree with your point that loving truth is also important, I just think that most people don’t start there.

      The truth about the real presence in the Eucharist doesn’t mean much if you don’t know Who is present. Fair?

      • ladycygnus

        I realize I made a mistake when I said this “because I fell in love with the truth in Catholicism”…but I later clarified with this “Then, by delving into that truth I found a Person and fell in love.”

        I would actually say I fell in love with the Trinity, three persons – not with an abstract truth. I began with a love for truth and found Catholicism – and in Catholicism I fell in Love with Truth (Jesus).


    • Guest

      I understand what you are saying…but I don’t think it comes across well.

      I’m an atheist usually at odds with Marc Barnes and his fawning admirers, but this time he’s absolutely right. It’s undeniable that Catholicism is infused with the erotic. Jesus allegedly envisioned himself as a divine bridegroom who invites (well, commands) spiritual intimacy with him. It seem this union is meant to produce righteousness in the world; the “kingdom,” if you like.

      It comes across pretty well.

  • Hershey Scholar

    Dear Marc,

    My name is Grace, and I host a radio show at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Would you be willing to give an interview for my show? You can let me know at Thanks.

  • Anonymous Reader

    Dear Marc,
    This is slightly off topic, but anyhow.
    A few years ago I stumbled upon an old copy of ‘Screwtape Letters’ by CS. Lewis.
    After completing the book I thought to myself, “I should write a ‘Modern’ Screwtape Letters, addressing issues of the 21st Century…”
    The truth is I don’t believe I’d possess the writing talent to attempt something worthy of a follow up to a work of C.S Lewis. However, I believe that you do. I therefore challenge you to write a Modern Screwtape Letters and share it with the world.
    Make it controversial and powerfully true. Lots of people would dig it.

    • Montague

      I know someone who did this (same setting except with emails) but I can’t recall who wrote it, except that it was most likely a catholic blogger. :P

      • Joseph Not Joe

        It was Mary Eberstadt, the book was “The Loser Letters” and it was terrible. Kreeft wrote one called “The Snakebite Letters,” with results much like Eberstadt. Marc, as your friend and confidant, don’t write that book.

    • shackra sislock

      I really support this idea, hope that Marc pick it up!

      • Donovan

        Just saying Montague was being vague because marc has already done this.

  • Forever Intent

    Pandemonium of the blog comment section. Homosexuality! Priests! CS Lewis! The horror. The horror.

  • Theodore Seeber

    My answer comes straight out of Nostra Aetate, and I call it the Theological Scientific Method:

    The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men. Indeed, she proclaims, and ever must proclaim Christ “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), in whom men may find the fullness of religious life, in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself.

    Everything good belongs to Christ, and is indeed already in the Catholic Church. That is why I am Catholic.

  • Strife

    “But the new rebel is a skeptic, and will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty; therefore he can never be really a revolutionist. And the fact that he doubts everything really gets in his way when he wants to denounce anything. For all denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind; and the modern revolutionist doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it. . . . As a politician, he will cry out that war is a waste of life, and then, as a philosopher, that all life is waste of time. A Russian pessimist will denounce a policeman for killing a peasant, and then prove by the highest philosophical principles that the peasant ought to have killed himself. . . . The man of this school goes first to a political meeting, where he complains that savages are treated as if they were beasts; then he takes his hat and umbrella and goes on to a scientific meeting, where he proves that they practically are beasts. In short, the modern revolutionist, being an infinite skeptic, is always engaged in undermining his own mines. In his book on politics he attacks men for trampling on morality; in his book on ethics he attacks morality for trampling on men. Therefore the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything.” ― G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

  • Strife

    “If I say ‘Suppose the Divine did really walk and talk upon the earth, what should we be likely to think of it?’ I think we should see in such a being exactly the perplexities that we see in the central figure of the Gospels: I think he would seem to us extreme and violent; because he would see some further development in virtue which would be for us untried. I think he would seem to us to contradict himself; because, looking down on life like a map, he would see a connection between things which to us are disconnected. I think, however, that he would always ring true to our own sense of right, but ring (so to speak) too loud and too clear. He would be too good but never too bad for us: ‘Be ye perfect.’ I think there would be, in the nature of things, some tragic collision between him and the humanity he had created, culminating in something that would be at once a crime and an expiation. I think he would be blamed as a hard prophet for dragging down the haughty, and blamed also as a weak sentimentalist for loving the things that cling in corners, children or beggars. I think, in short, that he would give us a sensation that he was turning all our standards upside down, and yet also a sensation that he had undeniably put them the right way up.” ~ G.K.Chesterton

  • Strife

    “No skeptical philosopher can ask any questions that may not equally be asked by a tired child on a hot afternoon.” ~ G.K.Chesterton

  • Hershey Scholar

    Does anyone know how to get a hold of Marc? I have a radio show, and I’d really like to interview him for it.

  • JethroElfman

    Indeed, whether God’s existence is true doesn’t matter. What’s important is the results that His existence brings about. Were I living in old-testament Israel, I should hope that I would have joined the Sinners Against Tyranny And Natalcide (SATAN™). Yahweh was a vicious freak. Being true makes the Christian’s invitation to follow Christ any more appealing.

    Does your religion enrich your life? Is it helping society? Does it lead you to treat other people better? These are the questions you should ask.

    • David A. Carlson

      And those are the great things about God. He does enrich my life. Through him, I find love, not just for myself but for all people. He commands us to help society, to help the poor and the needy. It is through Him that I have come to treat other people better. I still get angry with other people and lose my temper, but it is through Him that I find strength to be patient and loving.

  • jg

    As a christian (not catholic, but particulars like sect never bother me so much as the big stuff which I agree with you on) I feel mostly the same way though I phrase it like this: acknowledging there is a possiability I could be wrong I am christian because it is livable (or as my dad puts it, it works), coherant in regard to itself and life as it must be lived, it answers the largest questions in philosophy, and the big one I have only realized recently: it explains evil and goodness both completely. I accept I could be wrong, but I have faith, not that I have all the particulars right, but that this Jesus guy is trustworthy. I really do trust him.

  • Matthew Roth

    Martin Bueber’s example of the rabbi and the skeptic in Werke (cited by Ratzinger in Intro to Christianity) explains well why I am not an atheist: Christian faith is present against doubt, whereas faith is present for an atheist “through doubt and in the form of doubt. One cannot place the Christian faith on the table, but it opens up the believer. On the other hand, an unbeliever cannot escape the possibility of belief being true.
    As to other religions, I find them lacking in the answer to the question of man’s purpose.

  • ChevalierdeJohnstone

    Aren’t Judaism and Christianity the only faith tradition that claims to be true and that has been widely verified by thousands of people?

    Islam is based on a book. Mohammed said God told him what to write in the book. Nobody else was privy to this information. That’s also how the Church of Latter Day Saints got its start.

    Buddhism isn’t a religion per se. Buddha never claimed to have any kind of divine inspiration. Buddhists later applied a lot of mystical ideas to Buddha’s teachings, but that’s not the same thing. New Age secularists frequently confuse “spirituality” with religion, but that is because their brains are full of mush.

    Hinduism, Shintoism, Asatru, Native American tribal religions and all of the other folk religions don’t make any claim for rational veracity. Their outlook on faith is completely different; this is the way our people do things, these are the traditions of our people, we have always done it this way, therefore that is what we do. That’s admirable and special, but there’s no claim of verifiable truth.

    Atheism seeks to prove a negative, it is inherently irrational. That doesn’t make it wrong, but it’s definitely outside the grounds of verifiable faith traditions.

    Judaism, and the Catholic tradition that is its extension post-Incarnation, are the only religious faiths that not only claim to have been revealed the truth by God, but also are based not on one man’s claim to have been revealed this truth but on the witness of thousands. The Israelites carried the Spirit of God around in a box. They could, if properly prepared, go in and experience His presence. Christ, the incarnation of the Word, walked all over Palestine showing Himself and performing divine miracles in front of crowds of thousands of people. After He was crucified, died, and rose again, He appeared in his perfected risen form to hundreds if not thousands of eye witnesses. The non-believing secular explanation for this is that the people of Palestine suffered a series of mass hallucinations, but there’s little doubt that thousands of people appear to have believed that they were witnessesing God in the flesh.

    Really, this question is judging other religions by a standard that has been set and matched only by Christianity and its Judaic root. Of the other faith traditions in the world, only Islam, LDS, and various semi-Christian sects (e.g. Jehovah’s Witness) claim to have the complete, revealed truth. And all of these except Catholic Christianity base their claims on the testimony of a few, and in most cases one, person.

    Christ doesn’t claim to be the Son of God. Instead the Gospels are full of accounts of other eyewitnesses proclaiming that He is.

    I don’t think there’s anything intrinsically wrong or false about believing a man who claims that God told him to write a book. But the weight of evidence is on the side of Judaism and its Christian progeny, which is based on the eyewitness testimony of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people who have had a direct experience with the God of Israel and the Gentiles.

    Really Judaism and Christianity are the only faith traditions that claim to be verifiably true. Other traditions proclaim they are the truth and demand that the faithful believe it, but they don’t ever claim to be verifiable. It is only Christianity (and its Jewish progenitor) that claim the kind of “truth” mentioned by the questioner.

    I can understand not believing that claim, but it really doesn’t make sense to reject the Christian claim of truth and instead adopt a truth-posture of another faith tradition that never even made that claim!

    • Agni Ashwin

      “Aren’t Judaism and Christianity the only faith tradition that claims to be true and that has been widely verified by thousands of people?”

      Uh, no.

  • cestusdei

    I have a few questions I usually ask:

    1. Did the founder of your religion benefit in terms of sex, money, or power?
    2. Does your religion claim that to achieve heaven you must pay them for the knowledge (cash or credit card accepted)?
    3. Does your religion view God as something less then Love and humans as slaves rather then sons?

    If any of these are true then your religion is false. Christianity happens to be the only true faith.