“Why would you believe in something awful when you could believe in something wonderful?”
—The Priest, Fleabag
Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s hit comedy show may, prima facie, seem to be a weird source for a quote on faith. But for anyone that has watched the ‘dirty’ BBC series—which recently swept up four Emmy Awards and landed Waller-Bridge a USD20 million deal to produce new programmes for Amazon Prime—is a wonderful brew of messy emotions as it documents one woman’s meandering journey and response to loss and love.
Throw into the mix a flawed priest (played by Andrew Scott) that counterbalances his fuddled life with an unwavering belief in an all-powerful God and you have an uncannily honest portrayal of modern life.
And so it is… why believe in something awful—that we’re all just worm food—when you can believe in something wonderful: eternity with a loving God.
But faith is more than a convenient way to get us through the day. It’s not believing in something for the sake of just believing in something. We’re not talking flat-earthers or, as recently confessed by a longtime friend, his belief in a hollow Earth. Have you heard about this? Some people believe that our Earth is hollow and that a whole other world exists under our feet that’s populated by giants and illuminated by a miniature sun; all accessible through two openings: one at the north pole and another at the south pole. All this inside our Earth. Yes, a small sun. Inside. The. Earth.
“How is believing in a hollow Earth different from your belief in an all-powerful God?” he asked, after my diatribe on how hollow Earth theory goes against all laws of nature and physics.
“Through answered prayer that’s more than just coincidence; through sermons that have been pinpoint accurate on what I was going through; through supernatural visions and prophetic dreams,” I replied. “He’s real because he is undeniably real in my life.”
Faith, by definition, is belief in something based on conviction rather than proof. There’s an element of taking a logical leap. But as surely as I know that this magazine exists in your very hands, so is my faith that God exists. There is something more than what we can see and touch.
Needless to say, faith is inherently personal.
Which is why, for this issue dedicated to faith, we have asked religious leaders from the four major world religions—Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam—as well as an atheist, to expound, in their own words, why they believe what they believe.
In line with our mission to spark insightful conversation, we continue to ask the tough questions:
What is the state of religion in the world today? Are we increasingly less or more faith-based?
Can faith and homosexuality coexist? Read Wazina Zondon’s personal journey with being queer and Muslim.
And why do people believe in a flying spaghetti monster deity?
In addition to our deep-dive into faith, we also have a fantastic cover story featuring Ewan McGregor who returns to movie theatres in Doctor Sleep—the highly anticipated sequel to Stephen King’s The Shining; that seminal film directed by the late Stanley Kubrick almost 40 years ago with that iconic scene of Jack Nicholson peering through an axed door. (Here’s Johnny!)
Photographer Charlie Gray has done a wonderful job of capturing McGregor’s rugged charm. Check out the cover story for a handsome portrayal of this gregarious and affectionate Scot (a proud advocate of UNICEF’s tireless work with children in developing countries) shot at a farm house on the outskirts of Los Angeles.
Turning back to this month’s theme, let me end with this parting thought: are the worms that eat our bodies the same worms that eat the bodies of giants that live in the hollow Earth? So many questions.