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Fate ≥ Faith ≠ Mercy

F8 ≥ F8th ≠ Mercy, 2022

By Bobby Padilla

Mixed media on plywood, 15"x24"

I recently finished a painting that maybe you saw posted on social media entitled ”Fate≥Faith≠Mercy. It was my rendition of the Last Supper, a classic theme that many artists have tackled. Fortunately, I wasn’t killed on social media; you just never know what might offend the masses. I guess it was taken at face value, whatever that is, and I’m fine with that. My intent was never to offend or poke holes in the story of the Last Supper or Christianity itself. Having said that, I’ve been thinking about the role of Fate and Faith in our lives.


Initially, I saw Fate as an opposite to Faith; I saw two unique forces at work. Faith has a heavy connotation that directly stems from disciplined religion. Fate seems like something less likely to have any spirituality connected to it, and almost a rationalization after the fact. In another words, Faith is based on hoping for what will be, for the now, for the future, and for the ever after. Fate answers the question ‘why’ and speaks more to the predetermination of events. One of my many “Bobby-isms” I’ll tell any young person is when your young ‘why’ is a question, when your older, ‘why’ is an answer. A young version of you might ask, “Why didn’t I have a big house or two loving parents?”, or any number of hardships you had to endure. It made you who you are today, that’s why. Hopefully, those negative experiences that you had shaped a better, more profound, version of yourself.


Fate, 1920

By Alphonse Mucha

Oil on canvas



As I compared and contrasted Fate and Faith, I also realized the actionability of Faith as a joyful energy that is driven by an unwavering hope for what will be. I know it’s hard to speak of Faith and not mention God, Allah, Buddha or whichever higher power you believe in, but for the sake of conversation let’s try to keep the dogma of organized religion out of it. To me, Faith is a positive force, a quiet and constant call to action. While it is driven on hope, it’s also a principle for which you should live. Faith may compel you to help those in need, to do good in the face evil. It’s the life vest when you’re on the sinking ship of despair. It’s the sole answer when you can’t understand any of the questions. Personally, I don’t care what anyone says, even the staunchest atheist has rung their hands or dropped to their knees in a last-ditch effort (see there, I could have said Hail Mary) hoping for that higher power to touch their situation for the better. Whether it’s a dying loved one, loss of a job or anything that seems negatively beyond your control, you’ve at one time or another quietly sought divine intervention.


Fate, Life, Truth, Beauty, 1905

By Georg Pauli

Oil on canvas


Fate on the other hand, has many negative associations. Fate is often seen as cruel and is something we resign to. It’s a smack in the face of reality, and always after the fact. It’s a series of events that were predetermined and immovable. It too, is the sole answer when you can’t understand any of the questions. Yet, as different as I thought Fate and Faith were, I began to see certain similarities.


I see both as fluid streams of consciousness, not rigid pillars of philosophical ideals. They swell and recede like a river, based on belief in whichever you need at any given time.


The Hand of Fate, 2017

By Archraf Baznani

Photomontage

the last month or so I’ve been connecting Fate and Faith in another way, through the stars. Not in a campy horoscope kind of way, but in a way that the stars are a navigational tool for just how far we’ve come and everywhere we hope to be, spiritually. Ok, maybe just a little campy. For a moment, allow yourself to think about all the good things that have happened to you. Was that a higher power? Was it in the stars? Did the universe have a plan and at the right moment align the right stars to deliver you to your destiny to be in the right place at the right time, to meet the person (or people) you needed to meet at that moment? Is it Faith that guides us to the right work, beliefs, people and situations? Were we destined for greatness, or failure, or mediocrity?


Grim Fate, 2014

By Nina Valetova

Acrylic on canvas


If Fate and Faith are seen as fluid entities then Fate is the colder solution. Fate takes away some level of accountability, and that’s cold. Faith is warm because, again, it’s actionable taking energy and practice. That’s not to say you can’t actively work to change or alter your Fate, right? We really can’t just totally resign, otherwise none of us would get out of bed in the morning. Either way, both Fate and Faith temper our realities, and quite possibly, shape our spirit. Listen, I’m aware of how flowery that sounds, but if you give it a moment to sink in, it makes sense.


The last similarity between the two, as I contemplated, was the absolute injustice and raw cruelty of both Fate and Faith. Why is the Fate of someone to be abducted, then murdered and left for dead out in the middle of nowhere, while someone else’s is to be born into royalty? Why is it someone’s Fate to win the Powerball, while the Fate of a young parent of three is to die from brain cancer? What Faith can reconcile that? Why would stars align to have children die of starvation or born horribly disfigured? What depth of our own human capacity can fathom that somehow this is all part of the universe’s plan for us? The questions are many, and the answers are few.


Claws of Fate, 1998

By Vladimir Kush

Acrylic on canvas


Yet, we go forth and try to balance the two. Again, Faith isn’t the eminent domain of any one religion, nor is Fate so rigid in its absolution that it can’t be changed, even if slightly. The whole concept is rooted in our subconscious, it bubbles to our surface when we have those quiet moments of contemplation. What does it all mean? I don’t know, and I take comfort in the fact that you don’t either. Oh, there are those that can pretend to know, but we’re all just trying to figure it out. That’s hard to do when no two answers are the same.


The World's Fate, 2010

By Sultani Soltan

Oil on canvas


Fate, 1894

By Carlos Schwabe

Oil on canvas

I guess where I’m at now is I think of Fate and Faith as an ethereal salad dressing. Like oil and vinegar, both are indeed fluid and can be combined in the same vessel, but once settled, they separate. Our lives are like the many ingredients in a salad and have Fate and Faith drizzled all over the top bringing it all together. Perhaps it was Fate that led me to write this blog post, and I could only have Faith that you read it. Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to go have a salad.


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