What is Good Faith and the Common Good?
I believe in a good God who desires good for all of creation. That is the principle behind my series of reflections titled "Good Faith and the Common Good." The phrase "good faith" covers several layers of meaning. It means faith that is strong and healthy; it means faith in a God who is good. However, in a more colloquial sense, "good faith" also means honorable intentions. One speaks in good faith when he or she has honorable intentions.
"The common good" is an aspiration used by many folks, too, from environmentalists and philosophers to economists and politicians. In our present world, so quickly connected by communication and travel and trade, the challenge of a truly common good – a common good for the whole world – is critical. Today, all our reflections and endeavors, whether they be religious or political or economic, will be tested by the value they bring to a common good.
Thus, with this project, I want to talk about how the world might share good faith for the common good. Sometimes, I will speak about expressions of good faith. On other occasions, I might speak about what is the common good, perhaps on issues unrelated to conventional "faith" at all.
My own foundation is spiritual and religious, even though I realize that religion has its share of problems. So does non-religion. I realize that Christianity itself has its share of problems. So does every religion! Finally, I realize that my own church, the Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Communion of Churches, has its share of problems. So does every expression of Christian faith.
However, I believe that a sense of the holy – a sense of the sacred – has a critical role in the pursuit of the common good. And there is no sense of the sacred without a location in time and space. That location is always "local," if you will. We all have a time and a place. My location is as a priest in the Episcopal Church, presently as Dean of the Cathedral of St. Philip, in Atlanta, Georgia. God blesses my time and place, and I hope that God blesses your time and place, too.
The world needs people of good faith in all locations across the globe. Some of our locations suffer tremendously from violence and strife. Some suffer from poverty and hunger. Some of the world's political and religious antagonisms develop with horrifying consequences. In these places, in particular, God desires good faith for the common good.
There is a good God who sees beyond our present differences, and who longs for unity in the kingdom of God. In that kingdom, unity does not mean necessarily that we are without differences. In the arena of interfaith relationships, for example, significant differences occur among religious expression. Our religions are quite different. But, if God truly desires the common good, those differences will be for the better. They will add to our unity, not divide it. Differences can add to the common good, not destroy it.
The world needs the energy of holiness. The world needs good faith as it is expressed in all good religions. The world needs shalom. The world needs all compassion and all mercy. The world needs abundant life. May God bless good faith everywhere, and may we work together for the common good.