Devoted & Disgruntled 12: What Shall We Do About Theatre and the Performing Arts Now?
What do you have faith in?
Edward Rapley - 18 January 2017
WHO WAS THERE
REPORT DETAILWhat Do You Have Faith In?
Called by Ed Rapley
I will try to faithfully record what was said. // indicates a new person speaking.
Inspiration for session
It started with this book:
Syntheism - Creating God in the Internet Age by Bard & Soderqvist
Having been raised in the church and rejected it at age 12 I have been largely atheist and anarchic.
Reading this book has made me question what i have faith in, the role of faith as the foundation of experience and understanding, the idea of God being a human creation that exists in the future rather than the past, the necessity of faith for moral action in the world.
I go into this session without an answer to the question.
I’m not religious but after having children I forgot the lyrics to all the songs i knew but the ones that stayed were hymns. There was something about them. Those were the ones i would sing to my children.
I want my children to be able to have a relationship with the church to understand their heritage. They are taught about Santa but not about christ.
I realise even as i say this that it is more important to me than i thought.
I feel like there is a refusal to recognise the christian basis of celebrations.
Christianity is a framework for understanding things like literature.
I don’t know what i have faith in.
I have faith in the universe responding to me. That sounds ridiculous as i say it.
I don’t think i have faith in anything.
I have faith in the universe doing its thing.
Quentin Meillassoux ‘God is much too serious a subject to be left to the priests’
Religion is too important to be left to the religious.
This is something we all need to think about otherwise faith will be used by others, perhaps against us.
I’m optimistic, i wouldn’t even call it that.
I have faith in our capacity to solve problems and do awful things. Like climate change.
I have faith that we will make awful things happen and then we will make things better than they were.
I have faith in something beyond this reality.
It can be felt and experienced
This other place is claimed by religions but it can be experienced without them.
I believe our cultural apparatus is insufficient, it’s only partial.
We have cut ourselves off from religious traditions.
There are religions in the world that have developed a schema for human experience, the things we call madness, depression, melancholia, they have a schema for understanding them.
I know a dancer, he had dreams that wouldn’t go away, they kept happening, his ancestors telling him that he had to become a healer.
He sought advice and was told that he should follow the dreams or they wouldn’t go away.
So he engaged with the traditional teachings and became a spirit doctor.
I visited the practice, it was a small building like a doctor’s surgery, they did spiritual exorcism that was the way they treated things like depression but they also dispensed paracetamol. They did whatever worked to help.
I don’t share the Xhosa belief in ancestors but for him it was totally real.
(here it was difficult to follow what was being said and take notes, the discussion took on a very deep examination of what it means to be an individual in relation with other people)
There is a difference between faith and faithfulness
I have in other people's infinite existence even as they are a small part of my experience.
For me faith contains the possibility of denying responsibility - i do something because of my faith, it’s not up to me.
Faithfulness means taking personal responsibility.
Faith is not hope
What purpose do i use faith for?
What happens when you imagine continuing the statement:
“I have faith in…”
(again here the discussion because very complex and approached the territory of “…what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence.” my notes are thin)
Faith is a puzzle, I can’t truthfully articulate my answer.
Faith is non-binary, non-dual - there is no way to talk about the indefinable
I do have faith in something, faith forms the base. I have glimpse of faith in basic human stuff: sharing food, hugs, being together in the theatre.
I pulled myself through hopeless times with this faith.
It’s difficult to say what i have faith in, it’s a flickering thing.
Working creatively i have faith the something will happen.
Faith in something to work at, to connect with.
It’s necessary to pull yourself through.
It’s about finding the practices and rituals that connect you to your faith.
The practice i do is making theatre
Perhaps that is an articulation of my faith?
What keeps you going?
I have strong faith in carrying on.
There is a feedback loop between an artist and their work
When doubt hits the feedback loop that can stop you.
I keep going because i have faith in keeping going.
When you can’t go on, is that the loss of faith?
I have faith in tomorrow.
I have faith in the fact that this too shall pass
It makes me calm, it feels right and true.
I have faith in movement.
We are obsessed with happiness but everything changes, you can’t hold on to that.
My faith is that humans want to connect and tell stories.
If i find myself losing faith in that i must remind myself to go back to the essence: there is a human that wants to be connected with.
I have faith that people do want to help each other
We do also walk past.
I have faith that there is more good than bad. That belief is irrational, i know it is i choose to believe it.
I have the feeling that with the commemoration of WW1, and thinking of the phrase lest we forget, that our choices don’t show memory of 50 years ago. We have lost a living connection to war in europe.
I have faith that we will do something horrendous and then that good will come.
There is a cycle.
I believe that people will have a rational response, that there is cause for hope.
Faith is everything that lies behind or beyond a rational response.
I disagree, there isn’t a rational response. At the moment what is happening in europe isn’t a rational response.
Things are getting worse.
This had a real emotional impact on me, I was in Paris recently and I saw the violence of the police: every night i saw that they attack the refugees, they are beating homeless bewildered people (tears).
All my reference points are shaken, my faith in authority being there to help us, that people are good.
Even in the face of this i have faith that good and truth and kindness is the right thing to do.
Feels like the only thing to do
This experience was intellectually irrational, emotional destructive, and faith was the only option.
Historically you can see it’s the right thing to do, you look at civil right and you see it worked out.
In Palestine that’s what they have faith in the coming change, that things will get better, that they can’t go on.
But if i understand, that’s not what you are saying.
In reality you don’t think rationally that things will work out, but you must continue to hold the belief in the necessity of change.
I usually think that we can solve our problems.
In South Africa i encountered problems that felt beyond anyone’s ability to solve.
Yet they have faith that things will change.
In their life times they have experienced total system change.
We expect incremental change, perhaps whatever you think about it Brexit could be that radical change?
Makes me think of the Daniel Bye show about activism, the activists saw it as vindication of what they do and my friend said ‘see that’s why i don’t protest, it’s a waste of time’
The show was interpreted according to the faith of the audience.
We have talked about people without power, what about those with power?
The reverse is true: those in power expect their a continuation of their power.
The white supremacists in South Africa and the establishment with Brexit.
We have this western arrogance built on stability, there can be no war in europe.
We have faith in what functions for us. We can encourage other to have faith in that.
Faith can be used: people believed in the divine right of kings. Now no one believes God literally appoints the queen.
Faith is not enshrined in material things but it is symbolised by them.
We talk about blind faith and leaps of faith.
There can be problems with concretised faith, when it becomes certain it can be used to control others.
Sapiens a Brief History of Humankind
We survive because of faith in creativity - sharing ideas, things that don’t exist
Money is a faith system
Capitalism is a religion.
This reaffirms my faith in storytelling
Religious stories are thousands of years old and they have changed over time.
Christianity absorbed polytheism with the saints.
We can reassess the value of stories, what stories are important now?
They found scrolls that show the Noah’s ark story is older than the bible.
It’s one of the stories you really remember, it’s a real corker in the bible.
There are certain stories we keep retelling.
I have faith in mystery.
Mystery is that thing which is nailed down and frame to become scripture.
I have faith in impermanence and uncertainty, the promise of honesty.
I have been married for year, a decade and i knew my partner for years before that.
If i’m honest there was a time two years ago when i stopped loving them, we are together the whole time, then a year later i fall back in love with them.
Keeping going and it worked out
Am i just telling myself stories of love? So that things make sense
Faith is holding out against the evidence.
We are in danger of succumbing to stories.
Having misplaced faith in the truth of a story is a problem
We are stronger if we can hold contradiction
Remembering that other people change too.
When something ends having faith in the possibility of a return
Accepting the mystery and magic around what is happening
I have faith in myself.
Like the moment with Patti Smith where she forgets the lyrics in the really important moment and reveals to us her humanity.
I have a friend who has chronic depression.
When he stops answering calls and messages i have faith that he will re-emerge
I never knew why i had this faith that he would always find a way to come back
Then i put it together recently
He saw too many friends die of AIDS
Now it is a matter of principle that he won’t choose to die.
I have faith that something human is happening
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