Axioms of Faith

Finding a language of belief

In mathematics one must accept certain axioms, certain truths. Ten in all. Most important, one must accept the theoretical concepts of a point, a line, and a plane. Their existence cannot be proved or disproved, but they are the beginning of understanding geometry. My instructor explained, "You can’t prove anything from nothing....When you write a dictionary, if you don’t have any words, you can’t define any words."

We’re a generation trying to write a dictionary of belief without words. Spoiled. Confused. Unwanted. Unformed. We have no place from which to begin. But faith persists, and all around me I find believers.

Dallas Thompson’s head is never unplugged. He sits in the back row of my third-period journalism class wearing headphones. As the heavy metal crescendos in his ears, he scribbles down his thoughts on scraps of paper, thoughts which will later become ’zines (home-made magazines). He seems to write in time to the music. The music pouring from the earphones is loud; we listen in, though we cannot make out the lyrics. But Dallas’s mind makes sense of the noise. In it he finds prophets who preach truth. I wonder if, for him, silence is noise. Dallas is a believer. He distributes vegan literature, and in the animal-product-free lifestyle he finds commandments and a strict code of conduct. He bathes once a week. He lives simply. He uses his earnings to buy high-priced organic foods. He recycles...

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