Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Faces of Faith: A Traveler's Reflections on Faith and Doubt
by Such, George W., Ph.D., University of Louisiana at Lafayette, 2017, 215; 10622552
Abstract (Summary)

As the title intimates, this work of creative nonfiction combines a series of travel narratives with reflections on faith and doubt, arguing that both attributes are essential for a healthy relationship to reality. Whether faith is religious or secular, “being persuaded that something is true” lies at the heart of faith’s meaning and linguistic history, as well as in the heart of nearly all human beings. As such, faith is inescapable. At some level, everyone interacts with their own faith traditions and the faith of others. Utilizing James Gee’s work on discourse analysis, I argue that faith is primarily a social phenomenon, equating faith communities with all types of discourse communities, as ideological commitment unifies social groups and provides strong identities for members. One claim that I repeat throughout the narrative is that travel can be dangerous to one’s faith, if one desires it to remain unchallenged, as the more one travels and experiences the world, the more one encounters perspectives that implicitly question the absolute nature of one’s discourse communities and their ideologies. The broader our perspectives become, whether through travel or other forms of education, the greater the likelihood that we will come to see the relativity of our own faith traditions. I argue that faith in doubt is essential because of the inherent paradox in faith: faith does things for us which blind us to what faith does to us. Because of its relationship to power, faith is not innocuous. Faith empowers us by giving us a set of answers that provide clarity, but also blind us to other ways of seeing and thinking. Because faith communities need enemies (to project evil onto and to avoid self-scrutiny), unmitigated faith can lead to violence against others. Absolute faith dims discernment, which is why doubt functions as a savior. Faith permeates every facet of our lives, and one way to protect ourselves from its power over us is to nurture our abilities to doubt as well as our abilities to believe.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ratliff, Clancy
Commitee: DeVine, Christine, Wilson, Mary Ann, Young, Reggie
School: University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Department: English
School Location: United States -- Louisiana
Source: DAI-A 79/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Creative writing
Keywords: Communities, Discourse, Doubt, Faith, Ideology, Persuasion
Publication Number: 10622552
ISBN: 978-0-355-85404-6
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