Describe faith in terms of a journey. Faith as a Journey: 1. Seeking: to exist as faith Phenomenology of faith(what seeking tells us about faith): a. entails basic truth (ultimate concern) b....

Describe faith in terms of a journey.

Faith as a Journey:

1. Seeking: to exist as faith

Phenomenology of faith(what seeking tells us about faith):

a. entails basic truth (ultimate concern)

b. Beliefs (propositional statements of our ultimate concern)

c. Loyalties  ( what actions we do daily)

d. unity: whatever the ultimate concern ties into different aspect of life.

2. Openness: faith is essential to experience all that is possible, faith as openness is required

3. Risk: we could be wrong

4. Control or not in our control

Expert Answers
Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Wow!  I see you desire to get a lot more detailed about the different aspects of faith in the book Bee Season. Thank you for getting a lot more specific about the outline (possibly of your essay?) in regards to faith so that eNotes educators have the ability to answer your question in the most appropriate way.  I must admit, however, that I am confused as to why you arranged the outline as you did.  As a result, I can't quite figure out what you wish to use as your introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.  Regardless, I will attempt here to address each separate concept you mention, sometimes rearranging them where they fit.  Further, I have provided you with both primary source quotes and secondary source quotes.

Seeking & Basic Truths & Statements of Belief

This idea of faith needs to be taken differently in regards to each character.  Each of the four main characters seeks in a different way, has a different basic truth, and a different statement of belief.  For Saul, faith is measured in terms of success.  He depends on his son until his daughter overtakes Aaron in prowess.  For Saul, basic truths can be attained through book learning instead of experience.  Saul can be said to have no firm statement of belief by the end of the book because he has switched religions.  Miriam, faith is similar to obsession.  Because of her fascination with "tikkun olam," she believes that her actions of stealing are in line with God.  Her basic truth all stems from keeping the family looking "normal" while still obsessing over this concept.  This concept forms her statement of belief.  Aaron seeks through his father's approval.  His basic truths are formed as a result.  When he loses his father's approval, Aaron becomes "lost" and, just like Saul, cannot be given a statement of belief because he is disillusioned with religion after religion after religion.  Eliza is the one who is, at least, closest to true wisdom in the book.  She seeks first through her father's approval, but then relies on her own experiences.  In a sense, she achieves wisdom when she realizes that success in the spelling be is NOT the achievement of faith (and purposely loses).  Her basic truth, then, is to simply keep seeking.  She has not found her firm statement of belief yet, but she is well on her way (at least more than the other characters).

She has often felt that her outsides were too dull for her insides, that deep within her there was something better than what everyone else could see.


Phenomenology, which is a philosophy that basis its truth on the human experience of phenomena instead of objective experience, is an interesting addition to the idea of faith here.  When speaking about Phenomenology, then, it is the character of Eliza that needs to be spoken about.  Where Aaron has mistakenly misrepresented a religious vision for a blinking red light, it is Eliza that has true visionary experiences, especially when it has to do with her understanding of spelling words.  Take her experience with the word "eyrir" as an example:

EYRIR is a supernova inside Eliza’s head, unexpected but breathtakingly beautiful. ... [Now Eliza] waits patiently, faithfully, for the word to reveal itself. ... [And after spelling many different words,] applause pounds the stage like colored pebbles. An internal mute button that Eliza did not even know existed disengages. It is like hearing the ocean after years of watching waves silently crash upon the sand.

There are people who believe that letters are an expression of a very special primal energy and when they combine to make words, they hold all the secrets to the universe.

Unity in Life & Loyalty
It is the lack of unity in this family that brings them into steady decline:  in life AND in faith.  Here is the way that Gray puts it when he wrote his book review in Time magazine:
As Paul Gray explained in his Time book review, as the story progresses, Goldberg

[Goldberg emphasizes] the essential isolation of each family member, how a genteel unwillingness to cause scenes or make hurtful comments has atrophied into an inability to say anything truthful at all. Miriam is simply baffled by her children; Saul’s parental love is directed more at what they can become than at the needy young people they happen to be.

In addition to both Saul and Miriam, the children have isolation (or lack of unity) as well.  Eliza is convinced of her mediocrity throughout the book, but especially in the beginning and the end.  This leads her to become a wallflower of sorts, sharing her insights only with the readers.  After she is welcomed as a possible spelling bee winner into her father's study, Eliza quickly blossoms with the attention but still lacks unity in the feelings of guilt she feels towards Aaron.  My favorite quote about the unity she feels as a result of her abilities can be found here, as Eliza observes her whole family watching her first real spelling bee:
The singularity of their collective appearance outside the house lends a holiday air to their actions.
Of course, in the end, Eliza purposely losing the final bee in order to separate further is another grand example of isolation and lack of unity.  An interesting thing to note is that Aaron has a similar experience:  isolation is based on the bad parenting of Saul.  Aaron feels unity with his dad only when attention is reaped upon him.  As soon as that attention is taken away, Aaron feels the same isolation as Eliza.  Aaron is led even further away from the family and even into other religions as a result.
Open-mindedness about Faith
What is interesting about this idea is that it is so very similar to actual loss of faith, it's almost an irony.  The two characters who are the most open-minded about faith are Aaron and Saul.  Why?  Because they are willing not to isolate themselves to their one religion:  Judaisim.  Aaron, in particular, tries Christianity as well as others, only to settle on the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.  Even after all of Saul's learning and wisdom about Judaism, that is where Saul ends up as well.  In my opinion, these two characters are more "lost" than "sure of themselves" in regards to faith.  Ironically, it is Miriam in her desire to achieve "shefa" through "tikkun olam."  At least Miriam is open-minded in how unity with the divine can be achieved.  How good is it, though, when you are put into a mental institution as a result? As it stands, Miriam misunderstands the difficult concept of "tikkun olam" and begins to take things from stores in order to somehow fix the entire world.

Risk of Error
Let's look at the risk of error in faith in regards to Saul's misleading his daughter, Eliza, in achieving "shefa."  Of course, after finding his favorite in Eliza, Saul tries to get her to achieve this unity with the define (in Judaism defined as "shefa.")  Eliza is originally excited about this, hoping she can achieve this through spelling.  But it is Saul's errors that mess Eliza up.  Eliza does have a "shefa" experience, but is struck with horror as a result.  As a result, she purposefully loses the spelling be and remains in disillusionment about her own religion.  This shows the real fear that strike in the heart of every parent.  Misguidance can lead children astray, even in their faith!

Who is in Control?

This is a trick question because there are many ways to answer it, even in regards to Bee Season.  God can be seen to be in control because He is the divine in Judaism and directs and creates all things.  However, God also gives the souls under His direction "free will," which means that we have the choice for good or evil.  This is a question that only you can answer in regards to the book.  However, in regards to Eliza, I believe that she allows her father to control her religion completely until she makes that wise decision to lose the spelling be.  Now Eliza is in control and free to continue her journey to seek God on her own. 

In conclusion, it's important to say that if you wish to answer these questions not only in reference to Bee Season, but also for yourself, then feel free to do so.  I'm sure you would find it interesting to discover how you are alike or different from characters such as Eliza or Aaron in all of the above aspects of faith.

readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You have a lot there. If you have ever read Augustine, you will know that he wrote a lot and the relationship between faith and reason is central to his thinking. He has done more for this area than most Christian thinkers, and it is arguable that he is the main theologian working on this connection between faith and reason. 

In short, Augustine is not against reason. Often times in our modern world people create a false dichotomy between reason and faith. Augustine argues that reason puts a person on the road towards God and so faith. 

It works the other way as well. Faith informs reason. We can even say that faith elevates reason to where it should be by God's design. His great dictum is a paradoxical but succinct view of his thought: "I believe, in order to understand; and I understand, the better to believe" (Sermo 43:9).

Based on this fundamental point, faith is a journey. A person can grow in faith and should. When this happens, all your points emerge as a fruit - care for ultimate concerns, new beliefs, new loyalties, such as loving your enemies, and the importance of unity. 

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