This past September I unearthed a list of “Twenty-Five Things you Should do Before you Die.” It was one of those things I’d been dragging around for ages, but had never actually read. Most of them were about what you would expect. The one I scissored out before trashing the rest was this one:
“I believe one thing all people should do in their lifetime is to come to terms with their own spirituality, examine their beliefs, and really know why they believe what they do. Armed with that deep understanding, they will be able to clearly communicate that belief to someone else.” The Reverend Billy Graham
I was laid out like a beached whale on a sofa a few nights ago as the first wave of chills and fever hit. Buck was channel-surfing and hovered for a moment on the PBS Newshour. Ray Suarez was just beginning an interview with Eric Weiner about his newly-released book, “Man Seeks God: My Flirtation with the Divine.” I raised my left hand, a signal to Buck to stay on that channel.
“You want to see this?” he asked.
“Yes,” I croaked.
One of the insidious and diabolical, yet fantastic, things about e-readers is instant gratification. Within minutes, Weiner’s book was downloaded, ready to read.
Raised as a Southern Baptist, confirmed as an Episcopalian at the age of 39, like Weiner, I am about seven-eighth’s there, but still inhabit a pew close to the exits. I want to know what I believe about God — for myself, not anybody else. I’m not an atheist or even agnostic, and have strong spiritual leanings. Weiner’s book is one of many I’ll be reading this year with spirituality as a theme. I’ll also be working on developing some spiritual muscles by acting like a full-fledged member of my local parish rather than a dilettante who shows up occasionally. Should be interesting.
One thing Weiner cleared up for me: I am definitely not a Raëlian.
Oh, and I’m reading the Book of Mormon because, whether or not the United States has its first Mormon president after the 2012 elections, there will surely be a lot of talk about Mitt Romney’s religion. As is always the case with loose political talk, I’m also sure there will be lots of “mis” and “dis” information. I find the idea that Jesus Christ visited the American west after his resurrection wild and colorful, an irresistible story. I don’t see any harm in it. I’m not offended by it. I have a practical nature, and this may have been an absolutely brilliant way to get rough-edged pioneer men and women to coalesce around an idea greater than themselves that helped them to pull together and survive harsh weather, difficult terrain and hardship and build thriving cities. Anyway, I like to go to the source rather than get my information solely from the news media or partisans on either side.