Somehow I ended up with a copy of the Observer at the weekend, which carried a thought-provoking interview with actress Samantha Morton. Some of it is quite tough reading, and what Morton says about her faith is quite striking.
'Lucy' is a character in The Unloved, a film she co-wrote and directed, an 11 year old whose experience of abuse and childrens homes mirrors Morton's own childhood. Morton comments:
...there is an element of Lucy that is about the true nature of Catholicism. She prays for people, even the people who have harmed her. She forgives." Is she saying that she was like that as a child? "In a way, yes. Catholicism played such a huge part in my life, I would not have survived without my faith."
How did it manifest itself? "I suppose what I'm trying to say is that I felt watched over as a kid." But did she never feel angry with God for letting these things happen to her? "No. Never. I was angry but not at God. I feel that you are closer to God when you are messed up. Definitely. That's when you most need God, and God cannot control what man does."
Does she still have her faith? Is she religious? "I'm not a Bible thumper, and I don't want to go on about this because it will always be misinterpreted, but I have a wonderful joy in my life and that is that I have always believed in God. I just have and I think I'm lucky. Some people question that faith but, when you are little, and you find something as powerful as that, you do not question it. It's what got me through it all."
Some people seem to endure horrific experiences and can't forgive God for not intervening. Others like Morton have those experiences but seem to end up with a stronger faith. I have no idea what makes the difference. To say that faith is simply a gift might be the answer, but it also sounds like a cop-out. Why do some get the gift and not others?
Other comment: the language of being 'watched over' is very common, in my limited experience it's one of the most frequent ways that people talk about God. I guess it comes out strongly with baptism families, the notion that a strong and protective God is watching over your small and vulnerable child. For weddings, very few couples believe they've come together by accident, the language of 'meant to be' hints at someone/thing having a hand in things.