Spotlight, The Heroic Life

Is it the Heroic Faith?

Project Conversion just ran an essay I wrote on the Heroic Faith. I share some of the personal aspects of why I came to believe in heroism in the first place—and why I think so many people don’t. You can read it here:

The Heroic Faith: Can Adventure Be a Religion?

Notably, this is the first time I’ve referred to my philosophy as the Heroic Faith and not the Heroic Life. I’ve been testing out this term lately, and it’s gotten a few questions. You may know I have more than a few reservations about the entire idea of “faith.”

But give it a read and tell me—does it feel more natural? Is “faith” a better fit?

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22 thoughts on “Is it the Heroic Faith?

  1. I don’t have an answer to your questions above, but I’ve always thought “ni hannsa” was an eminently *elegant* expression. It’s one of my favorites of the handful you taught us.

  2. DiannaMoon says:

    YES! That was a beautiful piece of writing and I like “Heroic Faith” rather than “Heroic Life”.

    I am not sure why it resonates better for me as Faith…maybe because I feel that life *is* heroic (everyday being a quest in some way or another). The word “Faith” tests “Life” and makes it a choice to go out and bring it…as a priest or missionary would. In some ways it even justifies the word “quest” into the spiritual realm that you believe it is. I guess what I am saying is that “Heroic Faith” (imho) defines what you are doing and why you are doing it better than “Heroic Life”.

    • Thank you Dianna. That’s great insight… I’m starting to feel that way too.

      Maybe I just had to live it a while before I could feel ready to give it my “faith.” Faith is a pretty big step to take.

  3. YES. So much better as “Faith”. I can’t say quite why, Maybe because of how you can’t *try* to be a hero.. only circumstances can make you a hero. All you’re doing is trying to stay poised to act heroicly if circumstances permit.

  4. Faith sounds better because people have been taught that way by churches – but in the end, all it means is “unproven – and unprovable – assertion about a fact or set of facts”. What you’re looking for is not an assertion, but the fact that may or may not underlie that assertion, so “Heroic Life” is the better choice.

    • I think the key assertion here, and the part I have faith in, is that a few individuals working together have the potential to change the world. I’m not sure that’s a provable fact, at least not provable that they reliably can, but I trust in it.

      • I have to admit that “Heroic Faith” does have a ring to it, even as a I side with streamfortyseven. I understand your construal of the word ‘faith’, Drew, and don’t think it’s inaccurate. But I usually save it for epistemological convictions that are more deeply held and unproven than “people can change the world”. Not every group of individuals will change the world, but we have plenty of examples of groups that do, so ‘faith’ in a strong sense is not required.

        • I’ve left this aside so far, but: the conception of faith as “belief in the unprovable” is simplistic, according to the people-who-have-faith that I’ve talked to about this term. It isn’t epistemological at all, but an assertion of trust in something (whether proven or unproven), or even relational.

          That said, the “people can change the world” here is promissary: you can change the world. It’s one thing to believe abstractly that people can change the world, another to believe deeply in the heart that you, personally, are going to succeed in doing so.

          • Arden says:

            I was going to say this myself. I don’t know any people of faith who would relate to your definition, Trent. Of course, you may think they’re just putting a positive spin on what they’re doing. :)

            • Fair enough, Arden/Drew, but the fact that the religious don’t think of their faith as an epistemological claim doesn’t mean it isn’t. Further, it’s not clear to me how a person could “trust” a proven statement. Of course you can trust that your senses or instruments are properly calibrated. But my trust that I will fall if I walk off of a cliff isn’t the same thing as my trust that my boss will pay me on time, which in turn isn’t the same as trusting that God has created a paradise for us.

              • Trent, I strongly recommend you either talk to more religious people about faith, or read some interfaith resources on the topic.

                Even the Wikipedia entry on it does a fair job of explaining the variations in meaning that the term has.

                Frankly, viewing it as “belief in something unprovable” is a straw man, a charicature of what it means: and that’s coming from me, a man who distrusts the term.

                I think that you may be conflating the beliefs that Christians have, which do assert unprovable claims, with the emotion of faith, which is a powerful and hopeful state of mind that can be directed toward loved ones, political causes, and philosophic assertions as well as the religious beliefs that you don’t care for.

                (In fairness, Christians sometimes conflate the same thing; and the more I ask faithful people what “faith” means the more I am convinced that it is such a vague and highly personal term that it denotes nothing at all.)

  5. I’m a little torn about it. I feel like I’ve always thought of your heroism, Drew, as a lifestyle or a credo, with your *faith* being entirely separate from that credo.

    Google’s definition of “Faith” says:

    1. Complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
    2. Strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.

    Calling it “Heroic Faith”, to me, begs the question, “What is it about heroism that you’re *believing in without seeing*?” or “Do you *trust* in Heroism in some way?”

    Of course, then there’s what I would consider to be an entirely separate third option, “The Heroic Religion”. “religion” is often defined as worship to a higher power, but also can mean “Details of belief as taught or discussed.”

    So I guess that, from where I stand, what you teach and live lands somewhere between a Way of Life and a Religion.

    Either way, keep it up boss. It works.

    • Thanks for this, Zack. This really means a lot.

      I definitely view the Heroic Life/Faith as my religion. It is not an inherently theistic religion, it’s not all about the gods – one can believe in gods or be an atheist and still follow it. But it is a spiritual path that guides my life and in that regard it’s my religion.

      Where faith comes into it was always the tough question for me. Only now can I say: I have faith in the core idea that a few individuals working together can change the world. But it turns out I do have faith in that.

      You’re right though. It is a lifestyle. Is it better to view it as a credo that comes from a certain lifestyle, or as a religion with that lifestyle as its core practice? I don’t know…

  6. (Drew, I’m responding to your email here instead, since you’re essentially asking the same things here.)

    My essential answer: Yes!

    I’m super glad you’ve switched to this. This usage of “faith” is exactly what I’ve been trying to get people comfortable with for over a year now, and I’m glad that you’ve come to the same conclusions about the term that I have, through the same journey that I took to get to it (especially in looking for the English equivalent of Tao).

    So anyway, yes.

  7. I’m going to be one of the naysayers Drew. I think that the Heroic Life is much better. For me, the main reason I like the use of life, is that it connotes an active lifestyle, a way of doing, a practice. You cannot be doing the Heroic Life from your couch. Even with your definition of faith, I find the Heroic Faith problematic. Faith, in your definition, trust, is entirely in the mind. And if I recall correctly, the Heroic Life was always supposed to be an experiential religion. Or do you wish to change that?

    • Very good point Em. No, I don’t wish to change that at all: the central practice of the Heroic Faith is to go on a journey. If you don’t go on a journey, you are not living the Heroic Faith.

      And I just used “faith” there to see how that sounds.

  8. On seeing the comments, I’m dismayed that “faith” has such a passive connotation for most. Particularly those who seem to think that “having faith” is somehow more limiting or that is just sort of … happens.

    I see a lot of people advocating for “Life,” particularly because it’s more encompassing or more active. I think these people probably have a different experience with faith than I do.

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