Millions of voices of the world clamor for belief. You are asked to believe that 123 is a better cable channel than 234, that Sandscrape is a better toilet paper than Scratchroll, that M.T. Promisiz is a better leader than I. B. Lyin.
Then you’re asked to believe “in” pure abstractions, for instance that the area called Rolling Hillarity is a different “country” than the area called Dulland Flatlandia. And whether you are Rolling Hilarious or Dulland Flat, you need to believe that your country is the best one!
But the belief-net isn’t finished entangling you. To be “really” complete, you must have a “belief system,” too. In other words, you need to cram an elaborate mental superstructure into your head comprised of numerous associated concretized thoughts—that is “beliefs” about things you can neither see or touch. And you need to believe that it’s right, and preferably believe that all others are wrong. If that sounds like hard work, it is.
But fortunately, some have tried to make it easier for you. The most popular belief systems have come in ready-to-use packages, and luckily for you, a mere a half-dozen or so brands have satisfied fully 90% of the people of the world. Some have strong incentives if you buy this brand, you will enjoy bliss forever, and if you don’t, you’ll be in agony forever. (If that’s not incentive, what is?)
Occasionally, though, people come to the point of wondering what is true, what is real. Is it the belief system, or is it something else, maybe something the belief system is trying to describe, no matter how awkwardly. I propose a simple test:
Does it help you enjoy your ice cream more?
It’s amazing how irrelevant beliefs are when eating ice cream (or calamari, for that matter). An evangelist whose name I forget, despaired of trying to get ministers of different denominations to associate together through “ecumenical events.” He found that it worked quite well though when the occasion was getting ice cream. Belief systems don’t eat ice cream, but people do!
And for God’s sake, don’t believe a word of my beliefs here. Just see what makes your ice cream taste best. That just might be real. Taste and see (Psalm 34:8). If it does, it’s probably more real than a belief.