Honorable mention — BIPOC essay contest: Christopher Nava

Christopher Nava

An open letter to my mother about faith

By Christopher Nava 

Mother,

You tell me to have faith. Have faith in the Lord. Have faith in his plan. Have faith in the Lord, believe in him, and trust in his plan that everything will be all right. Yet, can I?

I’ve had faith, but I cannot blindly give my faith to a god that commands believers to place absolute trust in him.

Faith is a powerful force. For some, it’s trust in an otherworldly power. For others, it’s the belief in oneself. I grew up believing that an omniscient deity governs everything in absolutes: black and white, good and evil.

For a while, fear paralyzed my mind — childlike awe commanding me to fear God’s power and wrath for what he could do. Yet, I caught onto the inconsistencies with his teachings. Love thy neighbor as yourself, but only if they believe in the same God and teachings we do. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors’ wife and goods, yet evangelicals preaching on TV live in mansions, sell books about their transformation through faith, and delude people to place their trust into them and the Lord.

Placing faith in a book written by humans and claiming it is the absolute truth is a flawed concept because we’re imperfect. Catholic school taught me that faith is absolute and is the only truth, but I believe organized religion deprives people of their individual faith.

Our world is painted in vibrant shades of gray, Mother. While we as Filipinos — the only Christian majority country in Asia — place our faith in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, I think about our other Asian kin. Are Indonesians wrong for placing their faith in Allah and Muhammad because they’re a Muslim majority nation? Are Indians wrong for placing their faith in Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva because they’re a Hindu majority nation? Are the Japanese wrong for placing their faith in traditions they’ve practiced for thousands of years?

They aren’t. That’s the beauty of our world. Humans hold the incredible power to choose who or what they believe in and who they place their faith in. That’s why I choose to put my faith in agnosticism.

I don’t reject the notion of God or a god, nor do I affirm the existence of one. I’m not a sinner, nor am I a believer. I instead choose to see the world through many perspectives painted by its people. Agnosticism is how I choose to see the world. I can’t prove if the God of Abraham is the true ruler of the universe, if a pantheon of deities rules over us, or if a flying spaghetti monster ruled the galaxy, transforming planets into meatballs.

We’re defined by our choices, or, rather, our faith. Faith isn’t a spiritual force that rules the world and the people living in it. Faith is our hopes, our dreams, and our memories made real. I walk away from the predetermined path of religion and place faith in myself; faith that I can choose to live my life without fear of divine retribution.

Mother, I can’t force you to believe what I write. I ask you to see the world through another perspective, choose to place your faith in something, anything that isn’t made absolute by another.

We’re not right or wrong as agnostics. Simply, we view the world through the many possibilities and truths weaved through us and our legacies. As long as choice exists in our world, I’ll keep searching for my faith.

With love, your son,

Chris

Christopher, 19, is from Rialto, Calif., and attends the University of California Irvine with plans to major in English with a minor in computer science. “I go by my pen name, Christopher Hall,” Christopher writes. “I’m a 19-year-old, gay, Asian-American writer and pop-culture enthusiast. I hope to become an actor, writer or a narrative designer for a video game company.”