What’s in a Name?

Volume 50, Issue 3

The name of our magazine is Faith & Form and when I started to think about a subject for my column in this issue, I suddenly realized that I almost always address form instead of faith. Why? Is it so difficult to describe one’s faith in words? Of course, part of our reluctance to do so is that we want people to have the freedom to define their own personal faith. We believe it is their privilege.
Now perhaps I’ve already stepped on some toes. Many believe that faith is defined quite literally by ancient texts, divine revelation, and commentaries from holy persons down through the ages. Others, and I guess I lean in this direction, see faith as a very personal and life-long process we pursue to discover and understand our reason for being and our place in the cosmos.
Either way, faith is our attempt to go beyond the physical universe and the empirical approach of science. The dictionary defines faith as “a strong belief in God based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof. ”It is our way of seeking the meaning of life beyond the simple fact of being alive. The existence of God the Creator, God’s role in history and in our lives, life before birth and after death, and the wondrous miracle that we call human consciousness all fall under the canopy of faith and spirit.
So then, what is our job in designing places of worship? Some folks prefer the awesome scope of a cathedral, while others would rather sit beneath a living tree. To some, the joyous sound of a choir brings on a glorious feeling; others want quiet contemplation. I’ve even said a prayer or two in rush hour traffic.
And there’s the rub. There is no “one size fits all.” There is no equation that we can solve. There is no right way to do it. Whatever we think, it’s more than that. All we can hope to do is to present the Mystery in a way that helps us transcend the mundane and glimpse the sacred.

Editor’s note: Betty Herndon Meyer was editor of Faith & Form for more than 20 years, stepping down in 2000 to become Editor Emeritus. Afterward, Betty wrote a column, “Just One More Thing,” in Faith & Form for several years, and chose to set down her pen in 2011, about a year before she passed away. Above is a reprint of one of her last columns.