The Daily Exploration Into The Foundations Of Faith
The Acceleration of Faith requires a belief system
While I write from the Christian perspective (because that is what I have come to believe), it is not my intent here to proselytize. The QSource does not prescribe any particular religion, but rather that a man must have some kind of belief system to Accelerate his Faith. By Belief System, we mean the conviction that there is a supernatural governing force outside of oneself that provides an ordered explanation for our existence and delivers consequences for the violation of that order.
In support of that contention, let’s recall a few core concepts of the QSource. A Leader is a person who is able to influence other people to Move to Advantage. Movement is action taken to further Purpose, and Advantage is a superior circumstance achieved by that Movement. Leaders are Disruptive in that they cause a disturbance to a Group’s Status Quo by first visualizing an Advantage and then articulating it to the Group’s Members so persuasively that they begin to Move toward it.
The more skillful a Leader is at visualizing, articulating and persuading, the more Movement he will initiate in the Group and the more Effective he will be. However, this says nothing about his character. Ideally, he would also be a person who possesses Virtue, a standard of moral excellence. Unfortunately, this ideal combination of Virtue and Effectiveness is rare in one person. The un-Virtuous Leader is much more common. For every Lincoln there are ten Stalins who, while Effective, lack a Belief System that defines their character and provides boundaries to the dispensation of the power that is incumbent with their position.
Thus the dilemma that besets every Group: the more Effective its Leader is, the more power he will accumulate and the more likely it is that he will abuse it–absent some kind of restraint. As a result, in the fashioning of their worldly governing structures, Groups have continually sought to balance the need for Leaders who can successfully influence Movement to Advantage with the tendency of Effective Leaders to abuse the power they acquire in doing so.
The United States Constitution, which speaks directly to the separation and balancing of power, is a successful example of this attempt to both empower and restrain Leadership. Yet it’s not perfect, as no worldly structure can be. Regardless of their conceptual brilliance, to un-Virtuous Leaders overcome by the elixir of power, constitutional restraints are nothing but speed bumps on the road down which they are determined to drive their Groups–for bad or good.
True restraint doesn’t come from worldly structures. The only proven buffer to a Leader’s temptation to abuse his power comes from Virtue, and that is not self-generated. It is a result of character formed through adherence to a Belief System. Absent that, a Leader will make up his own rules because he has the power to do so. He will become corrupt, because that is what power (unrestrained by Guardrails) does to a man.
The Effective but un-Virtuous Leader poses a unique menace to a Group because his lack of personal Guardrails will ultimately result in him Leading it into peril rather than influencing its Members to Advantage. Because he is a Jackass, a man who lives for himself rather than for the benefit of his followers, he will be incapable of placing their betterment above the selfish desires born of his own nature and will to power. Without a Belief System, no man can self-subordinate and Live Third–it’s just not possible.
Study puts a Leader’s Belief System to the test
What happens when I die? What does that implicate about the way I should live? Prayer, the daily conversation a HIM has with his Creator, provides answers to the What-What. Because the HIM believes in the efficacy of Prayer, it also makes sense for him to Study by reading the answers written down by other men who have been asking the same questions since the dawn of recorded history.
A Judeo-Christian has the Bible to Study as a Muslim has the Koran. Each of these books provides their practitioners with an understanding of the Super Unknown. But Belief Systems are not restricted to the major religions. In fact, they exist even among people who would likely reject the very idea that they practicing any form of religion at all.
Take Bob Dylan for example, who said:
Here’s the thing with me and the religious thing. This is the flat-out truth: I find the religiosity and philosophy in the music. I don’t find it anywhere else. Songs like “Let Me Rest on a Peaceful Mountain” or “I Saw the Light”–that’s my religion. I don’t adhere to rabbis, preachers, evangelists, all of that. I’ve learned more from the songs than I’ve learned from any of this kind of entity. The songs are my lexicon. I believe the songs.
Despite his rejection of the concept of religion, Bob’s comments evince a Belief System. And we know he asked the What-What because we can hear it in the songs that he wrote. Here’s an example: how many years can some people exist before they’re allowed to be free? Because it’s a song (a poem of sorts) you have to read between the lines a bit, but Bob is essentially asking whether it will be death that finally releases people from their Earthly bondage. In other words, what happens when we die?
In the same song, Bob also asks how many times can a man turn his head and pretending that he just doesn’t see? Here his query is whether there something that he (and I, having heard the song) should be doing about the human condition while we live. In other words, what does the answer to the first question implicate about the way we should live.
Taken together, Bob’s two questions form the What-What–folk music style. And, like many men before him, Bob apparently believed that he had been provided an answer to his What-What because he wrote that down too: the answer is blowing in the wind.
While Bob may claim no particular religion, his lyrical answer to the What-What echoes the Belief System of the Naturalist, who holds that there is a innate rather than spiritual explanation for the Super Unknown. For the naturalist, there is no SkyQ (per se) directing our worldly affairs, but rather an intrinsic order that, while not created, has always been. Per Bob, understanding that order starts with listening (at least metaphorically) to the wind. Where a Muslim looks to the Koran to understand the Creator, Naturalists (like Bob Dylan) look to the creation itself.
Whether a man relies upon the Koran or the lyrics of Bob Dylan for answers to the What-What is a factor of the Belief System to which he subscribes. And every Belief System has a foundational doctrine that has been developed over time through the writings of a person or people who believe that they have discerned answers to the What-What. For Muslims, that person is Mohammed. For Christians, it is the many authors of the various books of the Bible. For Naturalists, who don’t have a single tome that encompasses their foundational doctrine, it is found in the works of people like Charles Darwin and Bob Dylan.
One reason that Belief Systems have a foundational doctrine is to provide a common Language for the use of its practitioners. Another is to express the principles upon which the structure of the system may securely rest. The HIM Studies the foundational doctrine of his particular Belief System so that he may practice it competently–or abandon it as unsustainable. Because he is responsible for the Outcome, the HIM puts what he Studies to the best test his intellect can provide to ensure that what he reads can stand up to the type of scrutiny he should expect from those he IMPACTS in his life.
Because he is not a Mascot, a HIM must be resolute in proclaiming the foundations of his Belief System to others, and he cannot do that if contains inconsistencies that he cannot adequately resolve for himself.
Faith is a practice that requires Study to Accelerate
Law, medicine or anything else that is practiced must be approached as a learn-ed pursuit. While its foundational tenets may be immutable, the understanding of its practitioners is ever-evolving. Lawyers do not stop studying the law after they pass the bar and doctors do not pack up their anatomy books after they perform their first surgery. They keep learning to become increasingly competent and evolve their understanding of what they Practice . They do this through disciplined study, at a depth and frequency sufficient to Accelerate their Skill .
Faith, a person’s Right relationship with his Creator, is a also a Practice. It is dynamic rather than static, in that it is either Accelerating or it is Decelerating. It never just is.
For example, there was a time when I embraced the premise of Naturalism that I believed that the answers to my ontological quest were blowing in the metaphorical wind. That made a certain emotional sense to me and was convenient for me because it demanded nothing from me. I found that I could hear what I wanted to hear in the wind, particularly when what I wanted to hear was that following my own natural urges was not only OK but was actually a good thing. Because I was a Jackass, I was not interested in a Belief System that demanded that I subordinate my will to power to some higher force. I wanted to Control my own life rather than be Prepared to live the life that was provided to me by the Creator.
But as it turned out, that wasn’t a good thing–for me or anyone else. Through Failure, I learned that following my own will too often resulted in Outcomes that were unhealthy for me and damaging to the people in my Concentrica. My natural urges, unbound by external Guardrails, were a constant threat to lead me into the ditch. Try as I might, I could find no remedy in the wind for that problem. Naturalism, for me, was unsustainable. Propelled by necessity, I began to search for answers to my What-What in other Belief Systems, which ultimately led me to Study Christianity.
While this provided better answers to my What-What than I could discern through listening to the wind, Studying Christianity did not have any initial impact on my character. I still found myself veering into the ditch of my own nature, only now I couldn’t use my Belief System to justify my behavior. This apparent contradiction might have been more perplexing to me had I not encountered a similar experience at the start of my legal career.
When I graduated from law school the state of North Carolina told me that I had sufficient knowledge to be a lawyer because I had managed to study enough to pass the bar. But I quickly discovered that I was not a very good lawyer. While I knew what a lawyer was supposed to know, I lacked the Skill to do what a lawyer was supposed to do.
To gain that Skill, I had to practically apply what I had learned in order to transfer what was in my head into my heart. I had to Practice. This led me to get better at doing what a lawyer is supposed to do. I then found that the better I got at doing what a lawyer is supposed to do, the more need and desire I had to increase my knowledge of what a lawyer is supposed to know.
In this way, learning leads to doing–doing leads to learning–and learning leads back to doing, in a cycle that is driven more by the circumstantial needs of my clients rather than any deliberate plan of mine. I have continued this cycle of Practice throughout my legal career in order to Accelerate my Skill. If I were to stop, and as soon as I stopped, my Skill would begin to Decelerate.
Armed with that experience, I approached my Faith in a similar fashion. Through Study, I slowly began increasing my knowledge of what a Christian should know. Through Practice, I gradually Accelerated my Skill of doing what a Christian should do. This enabled me to start building my Guardrails, one Brick at a time. The stronger my Guardrails became, the more my Faith Accelerated and the less likely it was that I would find myself in the ditch.
Just as in my Practice of law, my Practice of Faith has been a cycle of learning-doing-learning. Although I have been a Christian for over ten years, I continue to Practice and Study so that I can Accelerate my Skill. If I were to stop, and as soon as I stopped, my Skill would begin to Decelerate.