After by-now-70-plus years of reflecting and meditating – at times even agonizing – about the issue, I have come to the conclusion in my “twilight years” that the vast, vast, vast, vast majority of the time we spend in religious observance / activity consists of an at-times-frantic, gut-busting effort to go where we already are. In fact, an effort to go, not only where we already are, but to go where we cannot not be, simply because there is nowhere – and no-when – else to be. We spin our wheels like a car mired in quicksand. At least, that is where I spent most of the last 55 years or so as a religious believer. Do I, like the Delphic oracle, make myself sufficiently obscure? If so, please allow me to clarify. If that first sentence of the first paragraph sounds nihilistic … well
"It is natural to look for the things you want outside of where you are now. That is the whole point of a journey. Yet this moment is all anyone has. So if freedom, love, beauty, grace, and whatever else is desirable are to appear, they must appear in a now. It would be nice if they appeared in the now you have now. And if they are to appear and endure, they will have to be found in ordinary circumstances, since ordinary circumstances fill most of life. The marvelous, the lovely, will have to be right here in the room where someone is reading, someone is sick, someone is coughing, two people are making love, one man is yelling at a dog. It will have to appear in the sound of rain splashing off trees, of a truck laboring up a grade, of TV from another room. It will have to appear in the s...
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I left Christianity for a multitude of reasons, and, while I don’t mind talking about those reasons, a comprehensive catalog would be a major distraction from the main business at hand ... before the business at hand even begins. Besides, the salient issue, the drop of water that caused the glass to overflow, was – if I may revert to Christian terminology – a “vocational crisis”. Shortly after my wife Diane and I were married, we came to believe, through an intense time of prayer and reflection – we did that kind of thing back then -- that I was being “called” – a word I heartily abhor now, but … hey! … again, we talked and thought in these terms – to get my doctorate and to teach and to write on matters pertaining to the intersection of faith, culture, literature, and politics. So that