t\ r






lVlylong-lost r-ears asa teenageevangelrcal. Bv N4ark Lilla r crRcLE rrorrn Mark Lilla playing the guitar and srngtng wlrn a group of his Christian brethren in 1973.


ne moming this past June I found years I havebeen pondering that question.!(hen my writer friend invited myself sitting in a coffee shop me to hearBilly Graham, I decidedit was time to rry answeringir. across from Rockefeller Center, teaching an astonishedfriend hovr rf ts .q,sHORt vnlk from the No. 7 subwayline stoDro the centerof Coroto sing the old gospelhymn'!How fu Park,where the crusadeis being held. Alo.tg th. *"y we seepeople colGreat Thou Art." \fe had just Iecting socks,which those attendinghavebeJn asked'to bring foi donacome from a Dressconference for tion to the ciry's homelessshelters.There are thousandsof pairs,mainly the Greater New York Billv Gra- white, all new, bulging out of cardboardboxes strewn acrossour path. Beham Crusade,which we *ir. go- yond the boxes,there are men and qromen distributing rracts,newsletters, ing to attend that weekend in church advenisementsand crude theological leaflets."ThelargestcontinQueens. My friend, who grew up gent is a squad of granola-ChristiansJearing Birkenstocks"andhappy in Brooklyn and once attended a grins, reminding me of the Jesusfreaks I once knew. \(rhen I I yeshiva" was looking forward to learn they belong to "fwelve Tribes: The Commonwealth "pp.oaih of Israel," this as an anthropologicaleilediwhich has 25 Christian communitiesin North America and satellitesin tion. He thought of me asa secularManhattan writer, liki hi"tr.lf, *h;.h t Germany,Britain, Spain,Fnnce, Australia and l:tin America. I take an insupposeI am-He hadn't quiteunderstoodthat for me our little tiip would stant liking to them and wonder idly whether the Graham organization alsobe a kind of homecoming. might considergivingthem sockstoo. .For sevenyearsof my adolescenceand early adulthood, I was an evan. Just beforewe enterthe main site,the atmospherechanges.Metal police gelic.L Mine was not the white-bread Christianity of Billy Graham, barriers have been laid our on either side of the walkway ro creatismall though I usedto watih his crusadeson televisionandadmiredhim, And it pens,not unlike in a zoo. Most areempry bur in a few thereareprotesters, had nothing to do with the climare-controlleddevotionof today's mega- who arebeing kept away from Graham, from the crowd and, piesumably, churches.It wasa 70'sthing: my faith waspassionate, a little birfrightJnfrom one_another. They arelivid about being cagedup like thii and spend ing,.demandingin d Kierkegaardianway, fueled by music, Scripture, glos- most of their.timearguingwith the cops,who explainand re-explain-why solalia,faith.heali+, revivals,fellowship,sin and rumorsof sin. they aren't allowedcloserto the event.They are holding up placardsthit. It wasako perifitetic, I wasbrought up Roman Catholic in a blue'col- read "Graham lrads to Hell," "God Hates Fag Enablers"and,more crelar DetroirEtbtilb whose flat, monotonous subdivisionswere hastily atively,"Billy Is a Lying \(hore." consrruct.d in.qpfUirly 60's, far from the ethnic neighborhood, ani The "God Hates Fag Enablers"teamis well known to the Graham orparishesof my'frielts' youth. The post-VaticanII churih playedno sig- ganization. They come from the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, nificant roli in our lives,'andthe peoplewe worshipedwiih were stran- Kan.,'nrhosepasror,rhe Rev-Fred Phelps,devoteshis Christian ministry gers.At the ageof 13, I decidedI wasan arheist.But the following year, to fighting a war against"the modern militant homosexualmovement.i' on a lark, I attendeda Christian rock concert at my high-schoolaudito- Throughout the year he sendsour groupsof freshlywashedkids to picket rium, and on the way our was given a colloqui"l tianslationof the New gay-prideparades,"funeralsof impenitentsodomites,like Matthew ShepTestament.Like most Cathoft;s back then, and perhapsevennow, I had ard," and "enablers"like Billy Graham.Vhile Grahamdeemshomosexual never held a Bible in my hafitls. I began to read it the moment I got acts sinful, he also preachescompassionfor gaysand lesbians,which is home, and didn't stop unril breakfastthe next morning. Vhen I stigwhy Phelpshasmadehim a target.Phelpsis a homegrownCalvinist who geredinto the kitchen,my father asked,'Tfhat happenedto you?" I said celebrates the vengefulacrsof a wrathful God: AIDS, the attacksof g/11, I didn't know. the killing of Americantroops in Iraq, the London suicidebombingsand, Vithin a few months, I consideredmyself "saved" and could be seen most recently,Hurricane Katrina.The texts postedon the church's!(eb with a group of unkempt Jesusfreaks carrying a heavy wooden cross site couldhavebeendrawn from the apocalypticliteratureof 16th-century down 12 Mile Road on a Saturdayaft,irnoon.I didn't.last long with the Germany:"Face it, Americal You havebecomea fag-fillednation of flag freaks,though. Their hearts s/ere torn between God and the Grateful worshipersand necromancers. Your only terrorist iithe Lord your Godl Dead, while mine was infused with something my mind wanted to He fights againstyou personally." understand.So I got a haircut and joined a more conservative,BiblePastor Phelps's troops are handsome,their placards professionally basedPentecostalprayer group led by a self-taughtex-conwho worked printed. The man in the neighboringcage,who holds up tle shakily leias a hospital maintenanceman. This group was my substitute family tered "Graham Leads to Hell" sign, is old-3chool.He has come all rhe throughout high school in the early 7O's.I spentmost nights with them, way from A True Church, in Lake Hughes, Calif. His flier also affirms at prayermeetings,or guitar practice,or just sitting around on the shag that "God Hates," 'True BelieversHare" ahd "God CausesAll, Even carpetingof their living rooms, Biblesopen on our laps.Oil?ssrasa rollSin," but he doesn't seemparticularlyworked up about homosexuals, ing theologicalseminardevotedto inrerpretingthe biblicalmessage,and His anger is directed at falseprophets who preach eiumenical under. an open ps/chotherapy sess.ionwhere we helped each other adjust to standingfor other faiths and water down the Gospel message.'?fT{lier being boin again. For our lives were wholly hasa long list of errant messengers, including many of the mosr popular convinced.The old self had died and a new one had taken its place evangelicals of our time: JamesDobson,T. D. Jakes,Rick V'arrenand,of (Colossians 3:9-10). course,Billy Greham.The competition. Conversionstoriesare slippery things. "I once was lost, bur now am Mr. True Church is one of thoseenergetictypesyou find in everyevanfound" - that's neverthe whole story and it's usualiynot the end of the gelical church and prayer group: the amareur scholar. I was surrounded story. It wasn't for me. My new life as an evangelicalChristian ended al- by them in my teensand wentually becameone myself. Ours was not a most as abruptly as it had begun, and was followed by other rebirths that bookish home, and no one in my family had graduaredfrom college.My took me to college,to graduateschool,to journalism,to srints l.ivingin father took a deskiob irrtfii Air Force durins the Korean \far, directly afEurope, and now to middle age as a professor.But then, -hat is the ter high school, his.dischargebejan *orking for a small'ma"qd{hlf "whole story" and what doesit meanto tell it, evenro yourself?For 25 chrne-toolcomDany thar suooliedthe auto indusrv. He stavedthere until Marh Lilla is a professor in tbe Committee on Social Tbougbt at the Unioersity of Chicago. His book on modem theologt and poliiics, "The Stillborn God," toill bepublisbedby Knopf next year.

s. t.'

s AII teenagers aredogmatists;a teenager witha Bible issimplya.rnore intenseteenager. I relished beinga prophetr.r'ithout


honor in my own homeroom. ''

J;l .* l rl .. l.'


i '-:l :f'{ ,. '-, But the thirst for knowledge isn't limited to those vrho attend the right schools.(Nor, I was to learn,is it universalamong them.) The caricatureof American evan'gelicals as incurious and indifferent to learning is false.Visit any Christian bookstoreand you will seethat they are gluttons for learning- of a,cenain kind. They belong to Bible-study groups;they buy works of scripturalinterpretation;they sit through tediouscourseson cassette,CD or DVD; they takenotes during sermons and highlightpassages in their Bibles.If anything,ir is their rhirst for knowledgethat undoesthem. Like so many Americans,they know little abouthistory science,secularliteratureor, unlessthey are immigrants, foreign cultures.Yet their thirst for answersto the most urgent moral and Jxistentialquestionsis.overwhelming.So they grab foi the only glassin the room: God's revealedlVord. could hate A half-centuryago,an AmericanChristianseekingassistance rurnedto the popularizingworks of seriousreligiousthinkers like Reinhold Niebuhr, Paul Tillich, John Counney Murray, Thomas Menon, JacquesMaritain and evenManin Buber and V4ll Herberg. Those writers were steepedin philosophyand the theologicaltraditionsof their faiths, which they brought to bear on the vital spiritual concernsof ordinary believers- ethics,death,prayer,doubt an-ddespair.But intellectualfigures like thesehavedisappearedfrom the American landscapeand havebeenreplacedby half-educated evangelical guruswho eitherpublishvacant,cheery wants to satself-helpbooks or.arepolidcallymbdvated.If an evangelical isfy his tastefor truth today,jt'sstlictly self-qervice. a narrow fanaticism. And I can seenow ho* this stateof affairs'breeds Until age 14, my own readingwas pretry much limited to comic books, Mad Magazine,historiesof the Vorld Vars and the occasionalHardy Boys mystery.Then I discoveredthe strangenew world of the Bible.That discoverymight haveled me to other bogfrg,but theresrasno one to guideme only ponal into the realmof ideas onto that path.So the Biblebecame;:ny - ideasabout moraliry justice,cosmologv,psychologl',eschatolof, mortaliry. The Bible posed all the i.mportant questions, questions that s'ere vaguelyforming in my adolescentmind, but that now took on shapeand contour.And, of course,it answeredthosequestions. All teenagersaredogmatists;a teenagerwith a Bible is simply a more intenseteenager.I relishedbeing a prophet without honor in my own homeroom. Not long after I was saved,I took an old sq'eatshirtand wrote "Properry of Jesus"on it with perrmrtsntMagic Marker and wore it to class.I then askeda friend to makegre a largeleathercross,which I wore around my neck every day, just so people knew where I stood. I prowled the school halls with a leatherboundScofield ReferenceBible iucked under my arrn, iooking for victims. I even took on teachers, whoseskepticismstruck me as a sign of spiritualdegeneracy. I disarmed them with a little Scripture,skeweredthem srirh the sharpenedtip of my logcal nodus ponezs,shakingtheir foundationsand preparingthem for sa.lvation.I wasdoing them a favor.

And so I recognizedthe kids from Kansaswith their signs,though I myselfhadbeenmore like lvlr.True Church. He cur a ridiculousfigure,his fanny pack bulgingwith pensand scribblednotes;he was itching to display his homecookedlearning.I felt obligedto engagehim, for old times' sake,but we didn't get very far.He just kept repeatingthe samephmses.I pitied him. And I could tell he pitied me. . : MY FIFSTIMPRESSION on enteringthe crusadegroundsis not a good one. Thousandsof chairsare laid out bv row and section,like so manv ohaIanxes.There are televisioncrews on risers and a seoarateDresss;ciion with fold-out tablesand s-irelessInternet access,peopledby tanned ladies end metrosexualpeacocksstaringat laptops.Th. ittg. ii dominated by rwo video screens,each one large enough to stand out in Times Square.Betweenthem area podium, chairsfor thosespeaking,a spacefor the performing bandsand a piano; fanher back is the choir, rising up on bleachers,1,500-strongyer barely noticeablebetweenthe pixel machines. Further obscuringthe vie*'is a crane,on the end of which perchesa television technicianwith camera.At the other end is a roadiewho keepshis partnerelevatedand moveshim about to createcameramotion. Back and forth they zip on the aluminum seesaqmaking it a vi?tualimpossibility to seewhat is happeningonstage."Vinual" is the key term here. The shock doesme good, though. ,iarringup memoriesof the prayer meetingsI usedto attend.Thev weresimpleaffairs.Ve would meet every Friday in a churchrecreationhall, put the folding chairsin concentriccircles,fill the coffee maker, make Kool-Aid and tune bur guitars.There were nevermore than 60 of us, sometimesonlv six. When it looked asif everyonehad arrived,we would stan singing, just to get the spiritual juicesflowing. After a brief greetineb1'a male leaderwe would fall into silent oraver. tt oiouid nor stay silent long. Someones,'ould exilairrt, apEgposof nothing at all, "PraiseGod!" Someoneelse*'ould respoid, "Glor.v!" 'Jesusl"ricochetingoff the lipoleum.The Soonyou heard'Amenl" and racketmelted our Midwestern reticenceand freedus to begin prrying in tongues.The rave *'ould stan sloolv-,then catch,then srl'ampus aswe chantedin an oddly harmoniousmusicalbabbler\7ewere all on our feet, floating, gyrating,palms turned hea'enward.And then, just as abruptly, the tongueswould fadeandwe would collapsebackinto our chairs,falling into a mellos-dazeI o-ould later learn to callpostcoital.. It was now time to v"itness.The spirit would move someoneto rise.A mother mieht recounta child's misbehatiorandhow shehad openedher Bibleat ran-dom, finding rheexactversesheneededto resrorehei calmand affection.PraiseGod. A shy man might revealhe had cincebeena drunkard, an addict or a philandercr,but that God had rurned his life around. Amen. Occasio..n4lly someonewould burst inro tears, overwhelmedby someunspokenproblem. We would then gatherround to "lay hands" on him while he kneh Those *'ho couldn't touch him would touch those



who could,creatinga mysricalrugby scrum to protect his v.'oundedsoul. A palpablecurrenr of love passed throughour handsand armsand backsuntil it reached its destination.To be ori the receivinsend of that current s/asto feel the strength of God's army sranding foursquareagainstSatanind all his -o.kr. h *", I powerand comfon I wasneverto feelagain. I,must have neededit. My parents did their best with the family,working hard for little money,rearing two kids they hoped would be acceptedinto college and survivethe 60's and 7O'sunscathed.They meant well, but the only psychologicaltools at rheir disposal were discipline and guilt; expressionsof affection, sFmpathy and , forgiveness were rare. They were closed-inpeoplelike their parents,and their parents' parents,all the way up that deep, coastal shelf. Ar rtic r rrw sorc Exuberant teenagers singing at the Billy Graham Crusadein CoronaPark,Oueens.in June. thoseFriday-nightmeetingsI learnedanotherway ro , be. I learnedto bang on a guitar, to sing ar the top of my voice, to admit my worries and failings and collapseinto the arms of someonewhose love I could trust, knowing it I am unableto count the number of times asa teenagerthat I readthese would nevegbewithdrawn.All that seemedan enormousgift of God, and verses,meditatedon them and heardthem commentedon by preachers I qrantedto thank him. It is not true, as the ancient Epicureanphiloand fellow worshipers.John 3:3, supplementedbyJohn 3:15,was our ensopherstaught,that humanbeingsonly invent godsout of ignoranceand tire summa theologiae.V'e knew rhe Old Testamentstoriesand readthe :fear.Sometimes, perhapsoften, they seekthe divineout of joy and grati- major prophets in our misanthropicmoods. The lion's den story in the tudeforwhat seemlike miracles. Book of Daniel cheeredus,asdid someof the Psalms(we ignoredthe pesTherewasno joy to be felt in Corona Park the night I wasthere.To my simistic ones about feelingGod's absence).The Sermonon the Mount disappointmenrv/e nevergor around to singing"How GreatThou Art." maderitual appearances in homilieson lors, asdid Paul'sSecondEpisdeto Instead,rwo Clrristianpop bandsopenedfor Graham,playingtheir own the Corinrhiars. But that was all trimmine. The onlv biblical srorv that insipid music before the televisioncameras,as if they were recordingan reallymatteredto us wasthe story of Ni.oi.-rrr. MTV video.rifhen I pulled my eyesaway from the visualvortex caused On the first night of the crusade,Billy Grahamdevotedhis entire serby the screens,I realizedthat'no on. rvr, singing along with them; rhe mon to parsingtheseversesin John. Standinga few hundredyards from crowd just watchedand clapped.I wanted to shout out the joyful words SheaStadium, he beganwith the story of a ballplayerwho hit a ninrhof Moses:"The Lord is my strengthand song,and he is becomemy salva- inning home run that shouldhavewon the game.As the player rounded tionl" (Exodus15:2).Or the exhonationof the prophet Isaiah:"Sing the bases,the cheers of the crowd echoed in his ears,and as he apunto the Lord a new song, and his praisefrom the end of the eanh!" wairingto congratulate proachedhomehe sawhis teammates him. But in (a2:10).But this was not an eveningfor the God of Sinaiand the Judean his excitementhe had forgotten to rouch first base.He wascalledour, the desen.Nor wasit an eveningfor the songin evervbeliever'shean to rise inning was over,his team had lost. up and draw him lovingly into rhe mysticalbody of Christ. Tonight that And that story Biliy continuedin his inimitable,comforting drawl, rebody was plasteredto its seats,eachmember gazingfor*ard in private, mindedhim of Nicodemus.Nicodemusqes a "orofessor."and.like all inrapt silence.SixrythousandiPodswould havehad the sameeffect. tellectuals,thought he had eterything figured out. And, in facq he had everythingpeoplenormallv want in life. He was respected,powerful and EVERY SOOFTEN,while watching sportson television,I seean evangeli- knowledgeable. But he didn't knor'*the most'essentialrhing for any hucil in the'cro*d wavinga homemadesign that simply reads'John 3:3." manbeing:that he must beborn again.Nicodemusmissedfiist base. The reference is to a versein the New Testament, and not lust any verse. As banal as Billy's punch line is, I am remindedof its power. His serFor evangelicals, it is the epicenrerof rhe biblicalmessage. The mere mons have never dwelt on the evils of the world, like the old-style mention,ofit, on a bumper stickeror a cardboardsign s-avedin a sta- preachers;nor has he presentedChristianityas a successreligion,like dium, is'thouehtsufficientto work wonders,like a ta-lisman. The verse the vounger onestoday.His approachhasbCenalmostpurely existential. occurdhr tht'itory of Nicodemus: His ideallisteneris someonew'hoselife hasn't gone too badly: no bouts ; ll.. with cancer,no rap sheer.Billy simply looks tf,rt person ir ih. .y. rnd 3:1Thcte wasa man of the Pharisees, namedNicodemus, says:I know *-hat you know.That vou aren't happy.You may have a dea rulerof theJews: cent job, a loving spouse.healthy children, a pension plan. You might 2 The samecametoJesusby night,and saidunto him, Rabbi,we evenbe a "professor"like Nicodemus.But therearemomentswhen you knorv that thou a{a teach., Jo-. f rom God: for no man can do sit out on your lawn and w'ondet \Fhy do I feel so empr.vinside?Vhat thesemiraclesthat thou doest.exceotGod be with him. doesit all mean? 3 Jesusansweiedand saidunto him, Verilv.verily,I sar' I know you feel this r*ay;Billy sa;-s;I also krow what you need. I'm unto thee,Excepba man be born again,he cannotseethe not asking you to forsakefather and mother, wife and children. I'm not kinedomof God. . . . evenasking you to fotsdke your car and vacationhome - not because S NicodJrnusansweredand saidunto him. How can these those things arevaluable,but becausethey areirrelevant.All I'm asking l iir:i. thingebe? is that you hear Christ's simple invitation, that you acceprhim as your l0Jesusansweredand saidunto him, Art thou a master personalsaviorand srtrt )-our life anew.So comeforward, come forq/ard of Israel,and knowestnot thesethinss? . . . noq'while the organplavs. 16For God so loved the world, thai he g:ave his only.begottenSon, And they do. The Bill,vGraham EvangelisticAssociationWeb site rethat whosoeverbelievethin him should not perish, "(' "' :' pons that during the three-dayNev York crusade,more than 8,700"inbut haveeverlastinglife. (KingJamesVersion) quirers" cameforward, hoping to be born again.





.B.rrt*h"t does it mean,to be "born again"? \fhen I was 14 I thought I a squabblewith someoneover Scripture,and satdown the next day to study knew.That first night I spent with the liew Testament,curled up in b"ed,I the versesmy adversaryhad marshaledagainstme. To my sulprise,I conwas filled with many srange new rlotions, but the most alluring was the cludedhe wasright about what the Bible said.Butin myhean I alsoknewhe thought that I might, in American slang, "get a new life." Having been .had to be wrong abour the doctrine at hand. Which meant - it was the first reared in the Catholic Church, where convdrsion stories are frowned time thqghought realiy penetrated my mind - that the Bible might be .upon,the ideahad neveroccurredto me. An escapehatch! At that ageI wrong. My faceflushedand I closedthe book. It wasmy firsr step out of the was short,.chunky, myopic, acned and unsuccessfulwith any girl I really world of faith andtoward the world I live in now. wanted- in a word, average.So when I finally got to the Gospel of John, sometimeneardawn,I underlinedthe story of Nicodemusandput a large THE SUETTAY TRIPback to Manhattan is long, and the crush of the crowd exclamationpoint in the margin. I read it, though, in my own fashion. In nearlyunbearable. But the mood is, for the first time, festive.Clustersof my gloss,the Scripture did not literally state, "You must be born again," tall girlsin African dresseschatteraEaI on cellphones,tellingtheir friends which would havestiffened my antiaurhoritarianadolescentspine. It read: about their evening.Koreangroupsbreakinto hymns, someof them new 'When "Iilo matter who you are,no matter what your problems,escapeis possi- :to me. we finally makeit onto the train, my writer friend talksvrith 'a ble You can be born again." It was an invitation, not a command. A theoMennonite family who drove in from Pennsylvania to seeBilly for the logically weak reading,but a very American one. first time. For them, this hasbeena museumvisit; they havenow "done" Yet that can't be all.Yes,I hoped that redemptionin the afterlifewould Billy Graham, the way tourists "do" the Louvre. meanself-transformationin this one. Already I wanted to start over, to be I find myself standing next to rwo clean-cutyoung men who are up popular with my schoolmates,loved by my parents, healedof my'acne from the lfhanon School,spendingrhe summerasinternson'WallSrreet. scars.I wanted to be "other." But, at some level,I also yrantedto en- One of them is from Mississippi,where he artendsa largebut nor mega-. counteran "other" - the "wholly other," as the theologianKarl Banh church.He saysit has taken him sometime to find churcheshe is comcalledGod. One thingJesusseemsto be tellingNicodemusis that he must fonable with in Philadelphiaand Manhattan,so he qraseaBerto hearBilly recognizehis own insufficiency- that he will haveto turn his back on his Gnham that Friday,andwould be rerurnineSaiurdayandSunday.He asks autonomous,seeminglyhappy life and bi reborn as a human being who where I attendchurch,and I say I don't. He is puzzled."Has tonight got understands his dependenryon somethinggreater."He must increase, but you thinking about your spirirualsituation?"he asks,furrowing his brosr. I must decrease"(John3:30).That seemsa radicalchallengeto our free- "Of course,"I answer,truthfully. is that His friend is more interesting.It turns out he was born in Gdansk, dom, and it is. But one of the dirry little secretsabout adolescence the young'fear the very freedom they crave.They intuit the burden o{ which is where my father's family was originally from. W'etalk about Poautonomy and want, quite literally, to be "saved" from ir That is no doubt land,and I leam that his parentsimmigratediust before 1989and flew imwhy, as researchers tell us, the averageage of conversionis in the early mediatelyto Florida. ('T(hen PolishpeopleleavePoland,Polishpeoplego w:rm," he said.)They areapparentlyobservantCatholicswho teens.But the desireto escapeis somethingwe probably all want, at one someplace time or another,and for some it is overwhelmingenoughto make them brought him up within the church, but folk masses. in air-conditioned answerBilly's altarcall.A holiday from the self- who could resist? churchesamid the orangegroveswerenot enoughto givehim their oldcountry faith. He sayshe had never thought much about religion, but n'hen his friend from Mississippisuggested attendingthe crusade,he figured,lfhy not? I ask whetherhe went forward during the altarcall,and to he eveningends shonly after the altar m.vsurpriseI learnhe did. Why? "Because,"he says,shrugging,"what he call.Ve havesoent severalhours in the wassayingtonight madeso much sense." company of America's most re!-ered I found it hard to conceal my bafflement, since Billy had not said evangelist, yet none of the subjectsas- much at all. You must be born again- that was it. I felt a professorial in the sec- lecturewelling up in my throat about the history and psychologyof relisociatedqrith evaneelicalism ular oublic mind ha"e beenmentioned. gion. I wanted to exposehim to the pasticheof the biblicaltext, the synNot- a word about abonion, homo- cretic natureof Christian doctrine, the church'sambiguousrole asincusexuality,activist judges,stem-cellrebator and srifler of human knos'ledge,the theologicalidiosyncrasyof I wanted to warn him agaiist the anti-intellecsearch,prayer in school, Dare'inism, American evangelicalism. home-schoolingor Holly'wood.I'm re- rualismof American relieion todav and the political abusesto which it is liwed, since my memory is that we subject.I wantedto.c"st"dorrbton the stepire was about to take,to help never discussedpolitics in my prayer him seethereare other ways to live,other waysto seekknowledge,love, groups,evenin the overcharged70's.I perhapsevenself-transformation.I wanted to convihcehim that his digknow that evangelicalAmerica has nity dependedon mainraininga free, skepticalattirude toward doctrine. but I alsoknow that beenmanipulatedto politicalendsin recentdecades, I wanted . . . to savehim. politicsis not what sustainsit. Therearedeeperforcesat work: the 1'earnI thought I was out of that business, but maybenor. It took yearsto acing for trutt,.for love and,more elusively, for rebinh: guire the educationI missedas a young man, an educationnot only in 'These are powerful forces, and they can also lead a soul out of faith, as books but ir a cenain comDoftmenttoward mvself and the world around they evenruallydid with me. \(hen my small group finally disbandednot me. Doubt, like fa.ith,h". to be leamed.It is a skill. But the curiousthing long after I finished high school, some friends and I tried to starr another about skepdcismis that its adherents,ancientand modern,haveso often beenprosel'r'tizers. In readingthem, I've often wanted to ask, 'T{hy do one in a poor black Cathofic parish in the burned-out center of Detroit, where I wasthen living and putting myself through college.But that group you care?"Their skepticismoffersno good answerto that question.And I failed,too, so I mademyway to Ann Arbor, Mich., which wasthen home to don't haveone for myself.Vhen my daughterand I discussher budding one of the largestCatholic Pentecostalgroups in the country the Vord of thoughts about the cosmosand morality, or when my studentscome to God Communiry.Ieaving Detroit, I felt I wasgoing up toJerusalem,never my office inspiredor baffled b1'a book, somethingquickenssrithin me. to return. It rumed out to be a crushing disappointment.The communiry The Greels spoke of eros, the Christiansof agapeand caritas.I don't had hundredsof members,hierarchicallyorganized and the outsize praver know what to call it, I iust kno.*'it is there. It is a kind of care.It is directed meetingsleft me cold.The membersalso struck me asdogmatic,a linle too toward others,but also,perhaps,toward that young man lyrng on his bed, eagerto bring me into line doctrinally After a few months I got myselfinto opening the Bible for the very first time. r . J



TryEs M^cazlNE / SEprEMaEr lt.2o05



would nevegbe withdrawn. All that seemed an enormous gift of God, and. I qranted to thank him. It is not true, as the ancient Epicurean philo- sophers taught, that human beings only invent gods out of ignorance and. :fear. Sometimes, perhaps often, they seek the divine out of joy and grati- tude forwhat seem like miracles.

591KB Sizes 2 Downloads 57 Views

Recommend Documents

pdf-1460\-psychology-religion-and-spirituality-psychology-religion ...
... apps below to open or edit this item. pdf-1460\-psychology-religion-and-spirituality-psycho ... by-nelson-james-m-author-oct-29-2010-paperback-by.pdf.

Biblical Religion and Civil Religion in America by ...
Civil War, which Sidney Mead calls "the center of American history," [vi] was the ..... countrymen that they are men first, and Americans at a late and convenient hour,"[xx] .... prophets." The Religion of Abraham Lincoln (New York, 1963), p. 24.

36%. 14. Do you favor or oppose Donald Trump's plans for...*. Asked before SOTU address. Favor Oppose. Immigration 61% 39%. Jobs and the. economy 77% 23%. Handling North. Korea 61% 39%. Infrastructure, roads,. and bridges 80% 20%. 3. Page 3 of 50. RE

Freeman's Religion Notes.pdf
There was a problem previewing this document. Retrying... Download. Connect more apps... Try one of the apps below to open or edit this item. Freeman's Religion Notes.pdf. Freeman's Religion Notes.pdf. Open. Extract. Open with. Sign In. Main menu.

Secrets-Mayan-Science-Religion-Hunbatz-0939680637-ebook.pdf ...
Secrets-Mayan-Science-Religion-Hunbatz-0939680637-ebook.pdf. Secrets-Mayan-Science-Religion-Hunbatz-0939680637-ebook.pdf. Open. Extract.

Philosophy-Religion-Selected-Michael-Peterson-0195393597 ...
Page 3 of 4. Philosophy-Religion-Selected-Michael-Peterson-0195393597-ebook.pdf. Philosophy-Religion-Selected-Michael-Peterson-0195393597-ebook.pdf.

In Mysterious Ways - Religion
magical ritual to secure safety and good results (Malinowski 1925/1992: 30-31). The notion ... finish an exam, supporting a bridge that is on the brink of collapse.

Secrets-Mayan-Science-Religion-Hunbatz-0939680637-ebook.pdf ...
systems. It has nine chapters, covering technology overview and market survey, electric generators. and modeling, power converters and modulation techniques, wind turbine characteristics and. configurations, and control schemes for fixed- and variabl

Religion and Normative Ethics.pdf
BL51.R5987 2015. 210--dc23. 2014037370. ISBN: 978-1-844-65831-2 (hbk). ISBN: 978-1-315-71941-2 (ebk). Typeset in Bembo. by Taylor & Francis Books.

pdf-1465\religion-matters-what-sociology-teaches-us-about-religion-in ...
Connect more apps... Try one of the apps below to open or edit this item. pdf-1465\religion-matters-what-sociology-teaches-us-about-religion-in-our-world.pdf.

Classical Religion & Culture (2).pdf
Connect more apps... Try one of the apps below to open or edit this item. Classical Religion & Culture (2).pdf. Classical Religion & Culture (2).pdf. Open. Extract.

b0130jp8t0-Religion-People-Israel-Routledge-Revivals-ebook.pdf ...
Download. Connect more apps... Try one of the apps below to open or edit this item. b0130jp8t0-Religion-People-Israel-Routledge-Revivals-ebook.pdf.

Religion, Conscience, and Controversial Clinical ...
Feb 8, 2007 - Pritzker School of Medicine (R.E.L.), and the Department ... sicians and pharmacists who refuse to pre- scribe or .... with one degree of freedom (for ordinal predic- tors) and ..... mere technicians or vendors of health care goods.