In Shadowlands, the movie about the courtship and marriage of C. S. Lewis and Joy Davidman Gresham, C. S. Lewis is quoted as saying “We read to know we are not alone”. I have found multitudes of citations where people quote Lewis as having said this in those very words, but have so far found no specific source, no book, no article, no lecture, for this remark. But even if Lewis did not say it, he should have. For in my own personal experience, there have been instances too abundant to count where this proved to be the case with uncanny timeliness. The following examples do not even scratch the surface. But in virtually all cases of where I have been reminded that I am not alone, this reminder also amounted to a revelation of what I myself thought even at times when I was not aware
Have you ever had the experience of noticing a certain pattern in a wild variety of contexts, a pattern that occurs so consistently that you feel it simply has to mean something … but you have no idea what? I say “in a wild variety of contexts” to rule out cases of patterns that occur within the same context, even though, at the time, you may have no idea of the cause. I remember back in the early 1960s, when I was in junior-high school, I went on a “geology jag”. I spent several months reading books on geology, geophysics, and volcanology that noted with perplexity the mysterious – in the early '60s – pattern whereby volcanic activity tended to be concentrated around the circumference of, e.g., the Pacific Basin, what we today call the “Pacific Ring of Fire,” and similar places.
This “Skeptic’s” column tackles a subject that is both delicate and volatile: suicide. People who have known me for a fairly long time are well acquainted with a time in my life – during the time in Boston at Harvard and later at Seattle University during the equally ill-advised quest for the MDiv -- when I was undergoing episodes of very severe, quite arguably pre-suicidal, clinical depression. So – for the benefit of those people, for “my mariners, souls that have toiled and wrought and thought with me” – I want to emphasize that the following column does not describe me as I am now. Quite the contrary. I am not in crisis. I am not depressed. I am not afflicted with suicidal ideation – a term I came to know all too intimately during the “winter of [my] discontent”. So those of you