Infusing faith

Have you stood in the center of a massive medieval structure and wondered what could have motivated people in those difficult times to construct such a behemoth?

They hewed temples out of hunks of rock with mere chisels and hammers. They erected cathedrals 60 times taller than the people who stood inside. Why did they go through all that trouble?

The reason is that faith is fleeting. In one moment, people are brimming with faith in God, and in another, they brazenly flout his holy commandments. But no sooner than they step into the sanctum, with its ornate carvings, high roofs and elaborate rituals, the religious faith in their heart is restored and redoubled.

Our culture is filled with experiences meant to infuse faith into us. Several tribes have elaborate initiation rites. Companies and colleges have induction ceremonies. All these experiences have in common a sense of grandeur, elaborate rituals and an element of sacrifice. Those three qualities are the building blocks of faith.

Faith doesn’t make sense to our rational mind, leading us to question the existence of temples and cathedrals. Instead, faith bypasses reason and appeals directly to emotion. And as the psychologist Daniel Kahneman puts it, the emotional tail wags the rational dog.

When you wish for people to buy into your vision, think about how you can infuse them with faith. Visiting a massive medieval monument might give you some interesting ideas.

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