Belief? Faith?

Robert I. below notes James Martin's ire at belief being used to label shopping bags and such. Lately, Ive been struck by how many of the Christmas classics that arent explicitly religious contain a powerful call to belief. Not faith, exactly but belief. Miracle on 34th St. centers on a childs belief, as does The Polar Express. A TV movie called Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus depends on an adults ability to believe that the tender-but-a-bit-goofy man shes falling in love with is, in fact, Santa. Scrooges unbelief in Marleys ghost yields to a belief in the ghosts that call him to love his neighbor and to keep Christmasor else. Many adults can recall a moment when their belief in Santa awakened to doubts, and many parents mourn that turning point in their children. Our Christmas cultural landscape attests to the fact that belief itself is a powerful and precious thing, even if it is expressed in a young-consumerists desire for a particular toy to appear magically under the tree.So...faith and belief. Allies, adversaries, different genres, objective vs subjective, gift vs effort? Whaddya think?

Lisa Fullam is professor of moral theology at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. She is the author of The Virtue of Humility: A Thomistic Apologetic (Edwin Mellen Press).

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