Thinking about God today, particularly because I was walking by the seminary. I wonder if priests wrestle with their feelings about God more than lay people. It’s a sweeping generalization, but I think lay people tend to take their feelings about God for granted—be it belief, non-belief, or agnosticism—unless they’re in a state of crisis. And then you have people—the poor, the chronically ill—who are more or less always in a state of crisis or for whom one crisis begets another. And those people may be rather set in their ways about God also. Some people find hope or optimism through God; I tend to think that the hope itself is some aspect of God.
I’m interested in the recent backlash against mythical thinking among certain scientists and philosophers—Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, etc. A kind of mythical thinking is key to the kind of literature that I’m trying to write, and it’s key to the way I tend to look at the world. Not that I believe the “magical” metaphysical implications of it, but the language of myth and religious metaphor helps me to understand my feelings about certain things. Perhaps I’m comfortable with that language because I come from the South.
Allegedly, my uncle John had the following conversation with a street urchin when he came to New York in college to study at the seminary for a semester. I think he might have made it up.
– Hey, where are you going?
– I’m going to the seminary.
– Why you wanna be around all those dead people?