Sometimes Faith Has No Answer

Sometimes faith has no answer.

I believe that my religious choice answers a lot of the big questions. It gives me direction on how to live my life; and I do so with joy while not harming others. It tells me what happens after death; everything that dies shall be reborn. It’s never explained why I’m here, but I’ve felt wanted (and needed) by my gods just the same. I believe that my faith has led me to a better place, but there are moments when it comes up lacking.

It’s not just my faith that comes up lacking, it’s faith as a whole. While discussing religious things on a Christian website earlier this year someone asked me how Pagans explain suffering, hunger, and senseless tragedy. It was a question I was unable to answer, it was also a question they were unable to answer. Assigning blame to “Satan” in a world with an all powerful God is as lacking as my own non-answer.

I feel my gods in times of joy. Celebrating upon a warm Beltane night I have no doubt that they are with me. When a sick friend drifts off into the Summerlands I feel them then too. Such moments hurt, but I understand cancer, and I understand hurricanes, and I even understand the negligence or irresponsibility that might cause a fatal car crash. What I don’t understand are senseless acts of violence such as those in Connecticut today.

There have been moments in my life of serendipity, I was drawn to others (and them to me), and have received gifts that were so random I attributed them to the gods. When an obstacle appeared in my way I would say “everything happens for a reason,” today I can’t say “everything happens for a reason.”

There’s no reason for a five year old child to be shot and killed. There’s no reason for twenty children to have their lives cut short. I sometimes understand war and hate, I don’t understand this. Tragedies like this don’t make us stronger, they simply leave holes in the hearts of the living.

Within an hour of the shooting in Connecticut, lines had already been drawn. My gun-loving friends said that “everyone having a gun would keep us all safe.” My friends on the other side of the line put much of the blame on guns. Instead of getting a moment to grieve or process there was another debate with no easy answers. I didn’t want to shout at my friends online, I wanted to be held, I wanted to cry, and I wanted to pray for the souls who now await their next (and better) turn on the wheel.

I have looked to The Lady today, the motherly goddess figure I often seek out in times of my greatest need. I stopped and felt her arms wrap around me. There was comfort there, but when I whispered into her ear to ask “Why,” I got no answer, I could only feel the tear upon her own cheek.

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About Jason Mankey

Jason Mankey has been involved with Paganism for the last twenty years, and has spent the last ten of those years as a speaker, writer, and High Priest. Jason can often be found lecturing on the Pagan Festival circuit, so you might just bump into him. When not reading and researching Pagan history he likes to crank up the Led Zeppelin, do rituals in honor of Jim Morrison (of The Doors), and sing numerous praises to Pan, Dionysus, and Aphrodite. He lives in Sunnyvale CA with his wife Ari and two hyper-kinetic cats.

  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

    “While discussing religious things on a Christian website earlier this
    year someone asked me how Pagans explain suffering, hunger, and
    senseless tragedy.”
    This is only an issue to those who have an all-powerful, omnibenevolent God hanging over them. How do we explain those things? Nature is not always nice.

    Whilst America is shock and appalled at this incident (and rightly so, no one wants to live in a society that shrug that kind of occurrence off), consider the knife attack at the Chenpeng school in the Henan province of China:

    Whilst people are arguing over murder weapons, they are ignoring the fact that people are killing other people (or trying to). Often there is no clear motive to these massacres and we get given the ‘mental illness’ excuse.

    If an unstable mental state is the only motive, then perhaps people should stop blaming the tools and start looking at the causes. What is causing this increase in violent mental illness and what can be done to prevent it in the future.

    Yes, it is a terrible thing that these children have died, but let society (or, indeed, societies) learn from tragedy and put in place systems to treat the cause not the symptoms.

    This is where Faith can help. The perpetrators of these crimes have obviously developed some form of disconnect with their society. Perhaps, though one faith or another, these individuals can be reached and helped before they lash out and become another horrific news headline.

  • John H Halstead

    Maybe “faith” means just the act of turning to the gods in circumstances like these, just as you did.

  • Ian Phanes

    All people are given the ability to choose how we act. That freedom allows individuals to commit acts of violence, just as it allows individuals to commit acts of compassion. For me, this principle of freedom is expressed in various traditions as trickster figures. Meditating on trickster tales has helped me accept that freedom is the price of freedom. Iw Lusios!

  • Melissa Hill
    • JasonMankey

      Probably a bit different than that (though you know I love XTC). It’s not that they are silent, it’s just that there’s no real answer. I can find comfort and solace in the gods during times like these, but I don’t feel like I get the answer “why?”

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

        Perhaps because they don’t know?