We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
The best modern book on belief is “My Bright Abyss” by my Yale colleague, Christian Wiman. In it, he writes, “When I hear people say they have no religious impulse whatsoever ... I always want to respond: Really? You have never felt overwhelmed by, and in some way inadequate to, an experience in your life, have never felt something in yourself staking a claim beyond yourself, some wordless mystery straining through word to reach you? Never?”
Most believers seem to have had these magical moments of wonder and clearest consciousness, which suggested a dimension of existence beyond the everyday. Maybe it happened during childbirth, with music, in nature, in love or pain, or during a moment of overwhelming gratitude and exaltation.
These glimmering experiences are not in themselves faith, but they are the seed of faith.
This (Brooks') column resonated with me after this intense experience of writing my Dante book. As I wrote it, I was surprised to discover that the particularly religious aspect of my pilgrimage out of sickness and depression — that is, the role that prayer, confession, and liturgy played in the process — was more important than I had thought (and I knew it was pretty important). And it wasn’t just any religion: it was Orthodox Christianity, with its intense focus on the necessity to do hard inner spiritual work on repentance. And it wasn’t just any Orthodox parish: it was ours, pastored by Father Matthew, a tough-love priest who is compassionate, but who doesn’t let that compassion get in the way of compelling his parishioners to own up to and face down their sins.
He does this, I think, because he was once a police officer, and every day went out on the front lines of sin — that is, where sin leads. After seven years, he burned out. Couldn’t handle it — the violence, the injustice, the constant anger he had inside. He told me that he would stand at the liturgy and cry his eyes out during that time — and if you know Father Matthew, you know he’s a tough guy; the thought of him crying his eyes out is shocking. But that’s how broken he was...
I have to learn not to read the comments sections of such articles as Dreher's as they will irritate me too much, however many glimmers of truth they show.
The article itself is excellent.
Assistant Village Idiot
I don't know why people need to conflate feelings of awe, beauty, and the wonders of the universe with religion. They're not the same at all. One can appreciate the beauty, the size, the depth, and the mystery of the universe without resorting to gods (whose actions are often quite petty and shortsighted). Those glorious things transcend both gods and anything else mythology can create.