Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Religion is a ship

“The Great Religions are the Ships…Every sane person I know has jumped overboard.” (Hafiz, a sufi)

I love this line from Hafiz and at certain points in my life it has meant a lot to me. I think the metaphor of religion as a ship is just brilliant and my imagination runs wild thinking of all its possibilities.

I must confess to having once thought of my faith as more of a rock than a ship. But I was being far too over-optimistic as I soon came to realise (the hard way) when the ship began to sink (rocks don't sink!).

Faith is a ship because it has by definition no external prop, but only the structural integrity and interplay of its component parts. When I came to realise this, I wanted to do exactly what Hafiz suggests - jump overboard! After all, if faith has no prop, then the ship (my faith) was just pretending to a certainty that never really existed. It would be better to jump overboard and roll with the waves. Maybe the uncertainties of the sea were scarier, but also more real.

Since realising that my faith did not have a solid foundation, I've come to realise that its survival relies in its being meaningful. I find Hafiz's image helpful here too. I'm presuming Hafiz had in mind sailing ships, rather than ships with engines. For me, the interaction of faith and culture is what sustains the meaningfulness of my faith just as the right interaction of sail with wind, directs the ship.

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