With regard to faith, I think we're confused of its meaning partly because we're committing Ken Wilber's (please don't groan) pre/trans fallacy-- if I understand it correctly:
As westerners, we have a wholly different experience of Buddhism from those who were born into a Buddhist culture, we did not come to Buddhist practice due to social pressure from those around us, and yet much of our outward practice is indistinguishable from theirs. When a westerner bows to a Buddhist statue, or says they have faith in the Buddha, it may be an expression of something altogether different from when a native Buddhist does so. Westerners have had tremendous exposure to a plethora of religious and philosophical beliefs, and have made a very conscious decision to practice [Theravada] Buddhism. Yet, if both Western Buddhists and Native Buddhists are practicing according to the texts and to teachers, you cannot distinguish this difference in either word or action. When a Native Buddhist says he has 'faith' in the Buddha, it is not equal to the 'faith' that someone who actually 'gets it' has, but being the same word we mistake it as such.
Our humility, perhaps, prevents us from making the distinguishment between a "pre-rational" Buddhist from a "trans-rational" Buddhist.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James