Trust, confidence, reliance and fidelity are elements of Faith. Strangely, though, Faith is at its most creative when all its elements are absent. When one feels that all hope is lost – does not trust or have confidence in anyone, and does not believe that she can rely on anyone, or that fidelity will ever be rewarded – that is when Faith can produce its greatest miracles. Of course, this is mainly and perhaps exclusively a product of our perceptions. The result was possible all along but we did not see it. Faith does not change the objective reality; it changes us, and when we change, we gain power to affect our environment.
That can begin with trust. Though Faith will stir us most when we thought all was lost, trust is also an important spiritual muscle that needs exercise.
- Steven M.R. Covey, The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything (Free Press, 2006).
- Cheryl Lynn Greenberg, ed., A Circle of Trust: Remembering SNCC (Rutgers University Press, 1998).'
- Terry Weible Murphy, Michael Jenike and Edward E. Zine, Life in Rewind: The Story of a Young Courageous Man Who Persevered Over OCD and the Harvard Doctor Who Broke All the Rules to Help Him (William Morrow, 2009).
- S.J. Watson, Before I Go to Sleep: A Novel (Harper, 2011): can she trust her husband, or herself?
Technical and Analytical Readings
- Eric M. Uslaner, The Moral Foundations of Trust (Cambridge University Press, 2002).
- Reinhard Bachmann and Akbar Zaheer, eds., Handbook of Trust Research (Edward Elgar Publishing , 2006).
- Roderick M. Kramer, Organizational Trust: A Reader (Oxford University Press, 2007).
- Mark N.K. Saunders, Denise Skinner, Graham Dietz, Nicole Gillespie and Roy J. Lewicki, Organizational Trust: A Cultural Perspective (Cambridge University Press, 2010).
- Trudy Govier, Social Trust and Human Communities (McGill-Queen's University Press, 1997).
- Trudy Govier, Dilemmas of Trust (Carleton University Press, 1999).
- Mark E. Warren, Democracy and Trust (Cambridge University Press, 1999).
- Adam B. Seligman, The Problem of Trust (Princeton University Press, 1997).
- Francis Fukuyama, Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity (Free Press, 1995).
- Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach, The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone (Riverhead Books, 2017): “Humans rarely think for themselves. Rather, we think in groups. Just as it takes a tribe to raise a child, it also takes a tribe to invent a tool, solve a conflict or cure a disease. No individual knows everything it takes to build a cathedral, an atom bomb or an aircraft. What gave Homo sapiens an edge over all other animals and turned us into the masters of the planet was not our individual rationality, but our unparalleled ability to think together in large groups.”
- Walter Dean Myers, Sunrise over Fallujah (Scholastic Press, 2008).
- F.E. Higgins, The Black Book of Secrets (Fiewel and Friends, 2007).
- Olen Steinhauer, The Tourist (Minotaur, 2009).
- Susan Choi, Trust Exercise: A Novel (Henry Holt & Company, 2019): “It’s about sophomore theater students, their souls in flux. It’s about misplaced trust in adults, and about female friendships gone dangerously awry. In the end, it’s about cruelty. Satisfyingly, it’s also about revenge.”
- N.K. Jemsin, The City We Became: A Novel (Orbit, 2020): “. . . its main project is one of bridge-building, knitting communities together, showing how the embodied boroughs must overcome their own prejudices, their own irritations and limitations, to embrace and trust one another before they can win the fight.”
- Hernan Diaz, Trust: A Novel (Riverhead, 2022): “Trust: both a moral quality and a financial arrangement, as though virtue and money were synonymous. The term also has a literary bearing: Can we trust this tale? Is this narrator reliable? Diaz breaks the book into four sections, and the title of the first one is similarly ambiguous, echoing that of the whole work.”
From the dark side:
- Jennifer Weiner, The Summer Place: A Novel (Atria Books, 2022), “meditates on mothers and daughters. Sarah harbors a petulant grudge against Ronnie for the sin of working too much; Ronnie can’t understand Sarah’s modern-day overscheduling of her boys, why she can’t let them run wild and free on the Cape. Their secrets and similarities seep out.”
- Leila Motley, Nightcrawling: A Novel (Knopf, 2022): “In This Sex-Trafficking Ring, the Johns Are the Oakland Police. Leila Mottley’s debut novel about a teenager’s serial abuse is based on a true story.”
- John Everett Millais, Trust Me (1862)
Film and Stage
- A Passage to India, adapted from the E.M. Forster novel, the film is “a story of what can happen as a result of a succession of wrong-headed decisions and dreadful misunderstandings, of trust either given too easily or withheld far too long”
- La Femme Nikita, presenting the “paradoxical concept of a young woman blossoming socially while carrying out cold-blooded murders,” this film tests our ability to find dignity amid evil
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Richard Wagner's tragic opera Lohengrin, WWV 75 (1850) (approx. 215-230’), tells the story of a woman who inadvertently stymies the search for the Holy Grail, which we can see as a metaphor for happiness or justice. “There are two sources of suspense in Richard Wagner’s opera Lohengrin that propel the action forward, both having their roots in uncertainty. The uncertainty in act 1 pertains to Elsa - whether or not she is guilty or innocent; the uncertainty in acts 2 and 3 to Lohengrin - who he is, from where he comes.” “Conviction and doubt lie at the heart of Wagner’s Lohengrin (‘Lohengrin suchte das Weib, das an ihn glaubte’ [Lohengrin sought the woman who believed in him]) and naturally call for an epistemological analysis of its characters’ beliefs. What is certain and what remains conjectural? How much does each character know about the others? What do they know about what the others know about themselves? And in what way does each arrive at conclusions and translate them into actions?” “Elsa, by her desire, aroused the arrival of Lohengrin. The manipulative and malevolent Ortrud, as well as Telramund, are only the personification of the doubt and suspicions that prompt the young woman to question the Chevalier about his true origins.” This kind of uncertainty about people is what people routinely call a lack of trust. Elsa’s insistence on knowing her benefactor’s name is her undoing. Like Faith, trust must be lived, not merely spoken. Lohengrin may be Wagner’s most obscure opera but as you watch, focus on the issue of trust. Top recorded performances are by Windgassen, Steber & Keilberth in 1953, Windgassen, Nilsson & Jochum in 1954, Kónya, Rysanek, & Cluytens in 1958, Kónya, Grümmer & Matačić in 1959 (HF), Thomas, Silja & Sawallisch in 1962, Thomas, Grümmer & Kempe in 1963 ***, Domingo, Studer & Abbado in 1990 (video), Botha, Pieczonka & Bychkov in 2009, Vogt, Dasch Nelsons in 2011, Vogt, Dasch & Nelsons in 2012, Vogt, Nylund & Elder in 2017, and a visually attractive performance from Bayerische Staatsoper with Vogt and Dasch.
In a sonata for any two instruments, the two players rely on each other to be sure but we hear this more clearly in the cello sonata format than in most two-voice sonatas. The reason for this is the cello’s baritone voice, which lends an air of seriousness to any composition where it plays a leading role. In its nascent form, the cello sonata sounds like an underpinning of Faith: trust.
- Boccherini, complete cello sonatas
- Vivaldi, cello sonatas
- Bach, Cello Sonatas: No. 1 in G major, bwv 1027; No. 2 in D major, bwv 1028; No. 3 in G minor, bwv 1029
Other works evoking trust:
- Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Nonet (1893): all the players work together, harmoniously, in common purpose.
- Derek B. Scott, Symphony No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 26 (1997) (approx. 24 minutes), tells a musical story of a progressive building of trust through its four movements: (1) a tone of suspicion dominates the first movement; (2) this gives way to a cautious coming together, which works its way into understanding; (3) in the scherzo, the voices go their separate ways, with separate interests and agendas; (4) the frantic spate of activity has calmed, and the characters have learned to work together in mutual respect and understanding. “The music is songful and alive, shorn of all academic pretensions but buttressed by sure musical means.”
From the shadows: In these two works by Hendrik Andriessen, the soloist struggles with trust, as the other players wander off repeatedly.
Although she feeds me bread of bitterness, / And sinks into my throat her tiger’s tooth, / Stealing my breath of life, I will confess / I love this cultured hell that tests my youth. / Her vigor flows like tides into my blood, / Giving me strength erect against her hate, / Her bigness sweeps my being like a flood.
Yet, as a rebel fronts a king in state, / I stand within her walls with not a shred / Of terror, malice, not a word of jeer. / Darkly I gaze into the days ahead, / And see her might and granite wonders there, / Beneath the touch of Time’s unerring hand, / Like priceless treasures sinking in the sand.
[Claude McKay, “America”]
- John Keats, “O Blush Not So!”
Music: songs and other short pieces
- Mary Chapin Carpenter and Joe Diffie, Not Too Much To Ask