These last months have been trying. Questions, doubts, fears and anxiety have been part of our psyche. What sustains us? For many – faith – faith that goodness will prevail, faith in God.
In rabbinical school I spent a good amount of time researching how the Jewish tradition modern psychologists treat the development of faith. Over the years the question which has intrigued me is how a person can progress in his or her faith. Can people actually get themselves to believe there is life after death? Could doubters develop faith in God? Are there actual steps one can take to move from opinion to belief to deep conviction and abiding faith.
James Fowler, a theologian and Professor of Theology and Human Development at Emory University, asked these questions of those who were at various stages of faith:
- What commands and receives your best time, your best energy?
- What causes, dreams, goals or institutions are you pouring out your life for?
- As you live your life, what power or powers do you fear or dread?
- What power or powers do you rely on and trust?
- To what or whom are you committed in life?
- With whom or what group do you share your most sacred and private hopes for your life and for the lives of those you love?
- What are those most sacred hopes, those most compelling goals and purposes in your life?
We’re going to take up Fowler’s questions along with key sources from our Sages, Kabbalists and modern Rabbis to ask ourselves how our own faith has developed and can develop further.
Join me on these next Wednesdays, January 31, February 7, and 14 at 6pm in person (best) or by Zoom for discussions meant to enlighten, inspire and most important – prompt deep introspection.