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Is it relevant to talk about a religious dimension of trust? Does the “horizontal” exchange between people that constitutes the human community have anything to gain from a “vertical,” transcendent dimension that is beyond all control, all mastery? Religious faith is, at its highest level, the total surrender of the self to an “other,” the “total-other.” Is faith not ultimately the renouncement of one’s claim to self-sufficiency, the loss of all autonomy? In that respect it conflicts with the modern human’s demand for autonomy and the rejection of any kind of submission to an alien will imposed from outside, “from above.” Modern human beings refuse any “heteronomy” that would reduce them to the status of puppets manipulated by someone else.
Because we are fundamentally creatures of relation, communication, exchange, and dialogue, trust is essential to human life insofar as the latter is social life. Trust is the “cement of our societies” (Marzano 2010, 11). It starts as the attitude of the child who has no choice but to trust its parents. Thanks to that trust, children are able to adapt to the surrounding world and emerge from the fusion that characterizes the first phase of life. The next unavoidable step is separation and gaining independence, a process that is rarely free from tension or conflict. Other adults, particularly teachers, may perform the same role in children’s lives. Children must trust them while gradually distancing themselves, to be able to become more themselves…

François Euvé
Jesuit, theology professor at the Facultés jésuites de Paris – Centre Sèvres (Centre Sèvres – Jesuit Faculties of Paris) and editor-in-chief of the journal Études. Editorial board member for Recherches de science religieuse. Key publications: Penser la création comme jeu (Cerf, 2000), Crainte et tremblement, une histoire du péché (Seuil, 2010), Théologie de l’écologie (Salvator, 2021).
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