Andy says the Washington Post is asking for personal “spiritual stories”. They want it under 400 words, and they’re looking for “a time of crisis that tested your faith, the person who most influenced your beliefs, a life-changing event that shaped your spiritual identity, or a religious teaching or ritual that you find especially moving.” Awww, how heart-warming.
I sent mine in. I doubt that they’ll accept it, so I’ve put a copy below the fold.
My story of faith
When I was a young man, I was a regular member of the Lutheran church. I attended Sunday services, I went to Sunday school, I was a member of the choir, I was even an acolyte — I wore the funny robes and marched up with the minister to light the candles at the start of services. I signed up for confirmation classes and went every week. I read the Bible, I read the Lutheran catechism, I memorized the Nicene creed.
I also lived near the town library. I was there every day. I started reading Scientific American. Seriously, I’d read the whole thing, cover to cover, struggling with many of the articles, but it was worth it. I learned that the world was a wonder, and people could actually spend their lives trying to understand it. Science was like a laser that burned the superstition and empty rituals of the church out of my brain.
I suddenly realized something: in all the theological texts, in all the dogma I was committing to memory, there wasn’t even the tiniest fraction of the beauty and joy and truth I could find in one short article on insect biomechanics, or cytoplasmic transport, or recreational mathematics.
I walked away from the church, unconfirmed, with no regrets, and happy that I’d replaced the burden of dusty, dead authoritarianism with participation in the living world. Apostasy tastes sweet and satisfying, and I can thank a local library and the good scientists who published in Sci Am.