The Beginning | I Pray To A God I Don't Believe In
The first time God spoke to me I didn’t believe He existed. Billy Graham once reported, “I know God exists—I talked to him this morning.” Theatrical posturing, I thought. Graham may have been talking to God, but was God talking back? I remembered psychologist Thomas Szasz’s comment: “If somebody talks to God, that’s praying. If God talks to them, that’s schizophrenia.”
I had been raised in a Christian home, but those beliefs did not survive Philosophy 101, where arguments for the existence of God were shot down like skeets.
Since that time, I had been what one of my professors, Philip Wheelwright, called himself: a “pious agnostic”—respectful of belief in a higher reality but, when it came right down to it, staying eye-level with the natural world, the world of experience as I then knew it.
It is said you do not have to believe in God in order to pray. That is what happened to me.
I had been divorced for many years. I always thought I would be happier married but, as the decades rolled on without Miss Right showing up, I began to think she never would.
Then one day, the phone rang.
It was Abigail Rosenthal. She was a professor at Brooklyn College, a school with an outstanding liberal arts curriculum. The new college president had decided to replace core courses that opened students to the whole world of learning with—telescope from wide vista to a keyhole view—a focus on the borough of Brooklyn, the one thing the students knew already, in fact knew better than their professors.
Rosenthal and a colleague in the history department were fighting the change.
They had succeeded in rallying most of the faculty, but the administration was driving a steamroller. She called the higher education organization I ran in Washington, D.C. Could we help? “Yes, that is what we do,” I said.
Our only hope was to take the issue to the public, and we did. The battle raged in the press through the spring and into the summer. Abigail and I talked almost daily, strategizing and getting the story out. None of the talk was personal, and we never met, yet I found myself thinking, “This is a very remarkable woman.”
In fact, I fell in love with her on the phone.
And we won the fight. In September, The Chronicle of Higher Education published a front-page story on the Brooklyn Connections fight with a full-page photo of Abigail and her colleague, along with a small, smiling photo of me on the inside.
A week later, I went to New York to give a talk about the struggle and, for the first time, we met in person. I brought her up to the front to field questions. She was funny and articulate and smart—and really cute! So cute, in fact, that I was overcome with shyness and, instead of lingering, made a quick get-away.
I feared I had missed my chance.
I had to get back to New York. In December, I made a point of going to the city “on business” and made sure we had dinner. We mainly talked about issues at the college, but I thought I might have struck a spark. Her diary entry the next day, she later told me, was “Dinner last night was disturbingly interesting.”
The pace of our phone calls quickened and grew more personal. But, other than hanging on her every word, I was not fessing up to my feelings. And she, of course, was playing her cards close—as much as her impetuosity permitted. Thinking to maintain her feminine elusiveness, she nevertheless warned, in a stream of modals, “If there may be or might or possibly could be something personal, at some point perhaps, between us, we should make sure it doesn’t interfere with our efforts for Brooklyn College.” My lips said, “Of course, the college comes first,” but my heart said, “She loves me!”
I was not just in love; I was completely overwhelmed.
I suppose it’s a well-known phenomenon. Poets have sung about it ever since poets learned to sing; yet I had never really believed in love, not romantic love. Being in love was a delusion, based on projection—even the poets call it a form of madness—the kind of thing you expect to outgrow as you get older. I was only looking for compatibility, even had a Myers-Briggs personality profile in mind.
Instead, I found myself so totally, deeply in love that it did seem like a form of madness. “If you knew how much I love you, you would think I was crazy,” I told her. I was a pretty buttoned-down, levelheaded guy, but on one occasion, I said “I feel as if I have always loved you.” I am not sure what that meant, but I know it is how I felt. I would have been in sad shape had Abigail not had similar feelings, but she too responded to what she called “the summons of love.”
Being in love was so strange to me that—what does an academic do?—
I read books, mainly relationship books, but also an interesting collection of love letters by famous writers over the ages. The contrast was striking. The relationship books reflected something like my earlier attitude. They warned about projection, talked about the ups and downs of relationships, cautioned you against your own feelings. The love letters were the opposite—sometimes sweetly so, sometimes tragically so, as when Edith Wharton writes desperately loving letters to a man not worthy of her. The love letters testified to the reality of love but also justified the warnings issued by psychologists.
Women are supposed to be the experts in love. What do they think it is? Ah, I thought, they read novels, love stories. One had been left in a place I was staying. It was the first book that really told me about love. Love is not a set of psychological triggers firing off wildly. In a sense, it’s not subjective at all, not a mere feeling. It is an ontological fact, a bond between two people that is deep within the structure of reality itself. That is what women, or at least some of them, know.
Being in love was not only a profound new experience, it shook my worldview.
My whole life took on a new meaning. No, that is not quite right. My life went from a collection of purposes to having a meaning. It went from black and white to Technicolor. No, more radical than that, it went from a two-dimensional universe to a three-dimensional—or, as it turned out, n-dimensional—universe. I felt surprise and joy and gratitude. I did not know whom to thank, but an extraordinary gift had come into my life.
One summer morning I felt an urge to express my thanks, to pray—to Whomever. I did not see any reason not to express what I genuinely felt. So I fell to my knees, as I had been taught as a child, and thanked “the Lord.”
I now believed in love, but not much else.
I did not know if I was praying to the God of Israel, to Jesus of Nazareth, or, for all I knew, to the Lord Krishna worshipped by Hindus. Or simply to a benign universe. I didn’t worry about that. I just poured out my heart in prayer.
A few weeks later, I felt this same urge and said another prayer of thanks, still addressed to a Lord I did not actually believe in. This time, to my surprise, I offered to be of service. To a God I didn’t believe existed. Inconsistent of course, but not insincere.
Toward the end of a long summer day, Abigail and I were sitting on a park bench along the Potomac, across from the Lincoln Memorial. She was writing in her journal and I was pondering the challenge of making a future together. Without thinking about it, much less expecting an answer, I prayed again, this time asking for guidance.
Immediately a visual image appeared, like a hologram, a few feet in front of me—a rising, sparkling, multi-colored fountain. It radiated vitality and promise, an answer to my prayer. But there was more.
30 thoughts on “God: An Autobiography | Chapter One”
Richard Oxenberg March 27, 2015
First, let me thank you for the invitation, and the opportunity, to comment on your book and ask you what may seem some pointed questions.
These questions are asked, not in a spirit of skepticism or from a desire to cast doubt, but from a sincere desire to understand the nature and meaning of your experiences. After all, If God is going to speak to a philosopher, it must be that God is not averse to some Socratic-like investigation!
So, what I would be particularly interested in exploring with you, if you would be open to it, is how best to interpret your own experience of being addressed verbally by God. Of course, it is an experience reminiscent of that of the Hebrew prophets, and, for that matter, of Mohammed.
But is the voice that speaks to you the same as that which spoke to Abraham, to Moses, to the prophets, to Mohammed? Is it the same as the voice behind the Vedas (which, in Hindu tradition, as I’m sure you know, is called ‘sruti’–that which is “heard”)?
If so how do we account for the wide variation in these revelatory experiences? The Vedas, after all, don’t seem very much like the Hebrew Bible–at least not on the surface. And there are elements in all these texts that seem to me questionable as divine communication.
Here is one hypothesis I would suggest to you:
I myself have never been verbally addressed by God. My inner thought occurs in words for the most part, but I have never supposed these words to be anything but my own. And yet, at times, I have had moments of what seem to me ‘inspiration,’ in which I will suddenly see or understand something at a meta-verbal level. Then I will struggle to find the words with which to express it.
Could it be that the translation of meta-verbal inspiration into words, which occurs for me at a conscious level, is happening for you at an unconscious level, so that your first awareness of it is of the words themselves? Might this, indeed, help to explain the experiences of other prophets as well?
If so, then this might allow us to account for the variability we find in these revelatory accounts. Perhaps your translation of inspiration into words is colored by your particular personality, prior understandings, proclivities, etc., such that what you finally ‘hear’ is not God per se, but God as mediated by, and perhaps even modified by, Jerry Martin (and, of course, we might say something of the same for other prophets who have reported such experiences).
This would not invalidate your experience, but it would relativize, finitize, and particularize it to some degree. And it would allow for the possibility that what you hear and report is not a perfect reflection of the divine.
So there is my first question for you, Jerry. And, again, I ask it, not from a spirit of skepticism, but from a desire to make sense of all this.
I look forward to your reply.
Thanks so much!
Jerry L Martin March 31, 2015
Good questions! Let me boil them down to three.
First, is the voice that speaks to me the same as that which spoke to Moses and other prophets, the Hindu Vedas, etc.? I have not prayed about Islam, because of the time frame I was given, but for the others I can answer, Yes. There is one God, with many aspects, who by voice, inspiration, and other means has communicated with prophets, seers and ordinary folk across the world.
Second, how then do we account for the variations among the various revelations (and the questionable parts of them)? The key is that each communication is partly shaped by divine input and partly by the human receiver and his or her culture. Moreover, the divine reality is complex and has aspects that seem like opposites to us: both immanent and transcendent, both personal and transpersonal, both encountered as profoundly other than us and yet somehow found deep inside ourselves.
Third, what is the underlying process through which the words come to me? I have no objection to your theory as long as it allows the divine input to come through.
Richard, this is just the beginning of the discussion. Please feel free to continue the discussion.
Richard Oxenberg April 2, 2015
Thanks so much for your response. I found it very helpful. And thanks for the invitation to continue the dialogue.
So, to take these questions to the next level, I find myself wondering, as I read through your account, about the ‘hermeneutical space’ allowed by your experience.
Let me try to explain what I mean by this by making a distinction between ‘scientific language’ and ‘religious language.’ Perhaps I can best express this in Kantian terms.
Scientific language employs phenomenal concepts and categories (what Kant calls the ‘categories of the understanding’) in order to provide an account of the structure of the phenomenal world. In this respect we are to read this language in a more or less straightforward way, i.e., ‘literally.’
Much religious language (it seems to me) employs these same phenomenal concepts and categories, but for the sake of pointing beyond the phenomenal world to what Kant calls the ‘noumenal.’ Thus religion employs symbol, myth, metaphor, personification, and a large variety of other literary devices in order to conduct our minds beyond the phenomenal, or at least the spatio-temporal.
It is just for this reason—or so I have believed—that we are able to see the same truths shining forth in religious narratives that, on the surface (at the literal level), can be quite different. This, for me, is one of the things that makes a ‘theology without walls’ possible.
As I read through your account of God’s communication with you, I keep wondering about the status of this communication with respect to its language—especially when I get to your account of God’s inner experience and his relation to the creation.
Must we read these accounts literally or may they be read figuratively? Are they open to the kinds of symbolical-mythological interpretation one might employ, say, in reading Genesis or the Enuma Elish? How much ‘interpretive space’ do we have in understanding them?
For instance, I have always taken the Adam and Eve story to be figurative. I have taken it to express something paradigmatic about the estrangement of human beings (in general) from each other and from their divine source. The allusion in the story to ‘nakedness,’ for instance, has always seemed to me to refer, not to literal nakedness, but to a certain openness of soul; an openness to one another (and God) lost due to sin.
Read this way the story seems to me very rich. If I read it as a literal account of something that occurred to two human beings at the beginning of human history, on the other hand, the story seems to me far less rich, and, in fact, riddled with difficulties.
I would say the same of the various creation myths we see in the different religions, including the Genesis creation narrative in Genesis 1. Here we have a God who seems in full command of the forces of nature, which he is able to shape to his will for the sake of “good.” One of the purposes of the narrative is to give readers a sense that order, beneficent order, is more fundamental and powerful than chaos. Such a representation of the creation is a support for faith.
The God of your account seems just a tad unsure of himself, or maybe more than a tad. He is growing, developing, but doesn’t quite know what to expect, or even what he wants. How am I to read this? Am I to read it literally? If so, how am I to correlate it with the Genesis story, which seems to make a point of presenting something rather different?
Or is your account also open to a broader, more symbolic interpretation? Is it expressing some dimension of the divine but not the divine in toto? Is there a way to read the Genesis story, of a God very much in command, and yours, of a developing God figuring things out as he goes along, as compatible?
This also goes to the question of how much of ‘you’ there is in these reports and how much of ‘God.’ Are we receiving (are you receiving) God’s actual words, or are we receiving your translation of God’s meta-verbal inspiration into words—words that, then, might not perfectly or fully reflect the inspiration itself; words that, in a sense, demand further interpretation? This latter would allow for more interpretive ‘space.’
Are we hearing from God directly, or are we hearing from God as filtered through (and thus modified and limited by) you. I have long believed that all inspired scripture is the latter; it presents divine truth as filtered by those who receive it and report it. This assumption allows me hermeneutical leeway in trying to understand these accounts; to honor what is true (or seems to me to be true) in them, while questioning what seems questionable. May we say the same of your reports? What hermeneutical principles would you suggest we employ in trying to understand them?
I’ll look forward to your response.
Jerry L Martin April 8, 2015
A penetrating series of questions. Let me address the two most fundamental.
First, “how much of ‘you’ is there in these reports and how much of ‘God’?”
I was myself concerned because God’s voice, as I heard it, sounded a lot like my own, and it was obvious that God used concepts familiar to me as a modern American trained in philosophy. I was told: “It is bound to sound like you (and to use) your vocabulary, your concepts. That is how revelation works.” At the same time, God often challenged me to revise my concepts.
Second, “Must we read these accounts literally or may they be read figuratively?”
These may not be the only options (and I don’t think you mean to assume that they are). Take the idea that God is a Person and that God loves us. Merely symbolic? “Although I am much more than a Person, I am a Person, a soul, like you. You – people – cannot relate properly, constructively, to Me unless you understand that. (Take) love, for example. My love comes across as impersonal, generic, oceanic wallowing, but (in fact) it is quite specific, concrete, with feeling, with response to the particulars of your being, of your life.” Much later in the book: “I was a source of puzzlement, even mystery, to them. They would describe Me in paradoxes – neither existence nor non-existent, and so forth. And this has an impact. I did not feel ineffable. To be sure, I am hard to describe and human concepts are not adequate, but that is true of the physical universe as well. It creates a problem. It puts a barrier between Me and My creatures. How can they approach the ineffable? And even that mystical aspect leads them to regard Me as a pea-soup they want to dive into.” One more quote: “I come to you – but not to raindrops – as a Person, and therefore I AM a Person. One cannot be a Person in some modes without BEING a Person. … I have many of the attributes of a person – desires and a history, for example. But again do not assume that desire and history mean just the same for Me as they do for human beings.” It sounds to me as if God is a Person and loves us in a quite robust sense, not just symbolically. At the same time, to take this too literally might not do justice to the ways in which God is extraordinarily different from us and our ways of loving.
This is a valuable dialogue, Richard. I hope you continue the discussion.
Richard Oxenberg April 12, 2015
Thanks once again for your response. There are so many directions in which we might take this dialogue at this point. Perhaps, though, it will be more helpful to focus in on one area. You quote God as saying, “My love comes across as impersonal, generic, oceanic wallowing, but (in fact) it is quite specific, concrete, with feeling, with response to the particulars of your being, of your life.”
My question–and I think this might be many people’s question–is why, if this is the case, do so many people fail to experience this? Why do so many people feel unloved? Why are there so many atheists who have no sense of God at all? What is the reason for the disconnect?
I could write a long essay elaborating on this question, but maybe it will be better just to leave it at that. Perhaps elaboration is better done in the course of dialogue itself.
Jerry L Martin April 23, 2015
To feel God’s love, you have to be able to sense God’s presence at those moments with God is most available to you. There is no generic answer to what sorts of moments those will be.
“I communicate through prayer, through dreams, through insights that seem like one’s own thoughts, through hunches and intimations and intuitions. I am present in the human heart and speak to people directly. Directly does not mean simply or literally or in a loud voice. People must learn to listen, to heed. That requires openness of heart and sensitive attunement to My voice, to My urgings.”
God might be present and “speaking” in moments of love or conscience, appreciation of beauty or of nature, of death or of new life, of sacraments or just quiet moments of thought, prayer, or meditation – or even something peculiar, like my encounter with a drop of water. That is only the beginning of a much longer list.
“During most times,” I was reminded in prayer, “people have not had trouble believing. Believing in Me or in some gods was – is – the most natural thing in the world.” What is difficult in our secular, scientific age – and against the backdrop of life’s pains and disappointments — is to be open to such moments, to pay close attention to them, and to credit what they seem to tell you.
Thanks, Richard, for another great question, important to us all. Keep ‘em coming!
Kent Hiller January 15, 2015
Do you fully believe that God’s divine direction is what led you to write this book?
Jerry L Martin January 24, 2015
Yes, Kent, I was told directly in prayer that I was to publish this book. Even
the title was given to me in prayer. I was extremely reluctant to take on
the work. I had a great career going, and I could either keep drawing a
handsome salary or do what God wanted. I went with God. Some have wondered
why I don’t just give it away free. The answer is simple: I was told to
publish it, not even to self-publish it, but to get a real publisher to do
it, perhaps because it would have more credibility that way.
aditya sidhaye April 3, 2014
nice god is there……
Jerry L Martin April 15, 2014
Yes, indeed …
Pam Moresby August 4, 2013
I can believe what you say because that has happened to me and I kept quiet about it. I do tell people about my experiences of God if they ask but as I can’t prove my experience of God I know for a fact they can’t prove me wrong either.
The God I know and love is of love and his character is consistent. He has been faithful to me for many years and helped me in very hard circumstances. Over the years, I have got to know his character and he is true to what the bible says, but unlike a lot doesn’t fit into a mould that people would have him fit into.
I expected some pious man looking down his nose at me, as if everything and everyone smelt disgusting with a BBC accent. The God I met was truly loving and compassionate and not at all proud. In fact, rather ordinary.
Doug Stark May 8, 2013
Jerry, I love your writing style. This is so engaging and inspirational .. I think it needs to be published. 😉
Jerry L Martin May 10, 2013
Thank you, Doug. I appreciate the compliment. All I know how to do is to report what happened, as it happened. If it is engaging, that is because God is present. To be notified when the book comes out, just leave your email on the website. Blessings!
Miriam Fernandes April 30, 2013
Much to my utter surprise,I want to read on,I’m hooked! Love your wording,can’t believe iwant to read this type of thing,most unlike me but true. Thankyou!
Jerry L Martin May 2, 2013
Good for you, Miriam. It’s great to be open to something new.
Anne Hayes July 3, 2013
Dear Miriam, I applaud your zeal in pursuing something ‘most unlike’ yourself! Our CREATOR GOD LORD JESUS has provided the perfect opportunity for your Spirit to be Nourished and Edified by compelling you to pursue even more of HIS WORK, flowing through HIS Servant, Mr. Jerry Martin.
Fritz Lagusad January 21, 2013
I can see it on your face, mate. An honestly happy guy—very much in love. Hats off.
Jerry L Martin January 22, 2013
Fritz, what a kind remark! Yes, what you see is a happy guy, very much in love. What a blessing! Be well, my friend.
Richard Lubbers January 20, 2013
I finally got in here, and so glad that I did! What a beautiful story about coming together with Abigail, and the first of many conversations with the God of All happening right by her side. I’m still feeling warmed by the amazing love embedded in your telling of this. That is so God!
Your experience is different than mine, but also amazingly similar. I didn’t have the visual aspect of it, but the voice was as though I had an audio receptor in my ear. You said in Chapter Two that the voice spoke with too much authority to ignore. I’ve always described it as “thoughts stronger than I can ignore.”
The most recent message to me was last week, when the voice said, “I will not lead you into calamity.” I too need to trust the voice and act on its leading.
It was not an accident or just good fortune that we met.
Jerry L Martin January 22, 2013
Richard, thank you for sharing your story with us, so aptly expressed as “thoughts stronger than I can ignore.”
You and I have received a great blessing. You have to assume it is for a purpose, since there are many other ways, usually more subtle, that God reaches out to people. I agree that it is not just random chance that we connected. Take the voice seriously and see where it leads, and please let us hear from you again.
ray wheaton January 13, 2013
The excerpts are terrific. Great job. I’ll be in line for the 1st edition…I’ve started to re-read the torah.
Jerry L Martin January 20, 2013
Ray, thanks for your kind comment. Re-reading the Torah! I will be interested in what strikes you this time that you didn’t notice before. Be well, my friend.
Anne Hayes July 2, 2013
Dear Ray, read The HOLY BIBLE ; The INSPIRED WORD OF GOD; THE GREAT I AM ;JEHOVA ; ABBA FATHER ; HE WHO IS THE BEGGINNING AND ENDING OF ALL THINGS. There you will find The ONLY TRUTH ! JESUS THE CHRIST IS GOD IN THE FLESH
Matt Cardin October 15, 2012
Jerry, I’ve been looking at the online material at your website over the past week and finding it more than just a little interesting. I also found and read a copy of the speech you delivered a couple of months ago to the Eric Voegelin Society about the onset of your divine hearing and the value and necessity of an epistemics of trust to complement and counter the culturally dominant epistemics of skepticism. Really excellent stuff, that, and powerfully presented.
Your thoughts and ongoing experiences in this area strike me as fascinating and significant, and not only because of their inherent fascinatingness and significance but because I myself have been experiencing, reflecting on, and writing for several years about the issue of creative and even existential, all-encompassing dominance and life guidance by a muse/daemon/genius in the classical and esoteric mode. See my blog Demon Muse (http://www.demonmuse.com/), where I’ve made available not only a collection of articles and essays but a free ebook about this very thing. I’ll also have an article in the next issue of the journal PARANTHROPOLOGY and the forthcoming anthology DAIMONIC IMAGINATION: UNCANNY INTELLIGENCE about such matters as they occurred in the intertwined experiences of Aleister Crowley, Timothy Leary, and Robert Anton Wilson in being guided and communicated with what presented itself in their experience as an independent “higher intelligence.” My point in sharing this isn’t to advertise my work but to emphasize that my own experience, and also the reflections and writings to which it has led me, aligns in deep harmony with your own, and also with that of the other commenters here.
This very fact — that in the our present-day culture of scientific materialism and secularism, there’s a clear persistence of the ancient phenomenon of receiving ideas and communications from, and being in felt contact with, something that, regardless of a person’s conscious belief system, presents itself *in experience* as a separate, autonomous intelligence or entity with a profound significance for one’s personal life and overall worldview — is one that I think is increasingly moving inward from the margins of our collective discourse in post-industrial technocratic society. It has come to be the central issue in my entire philosophy and outlook, and also, as I can see, in yours. (My own emphasis and direction takes a darker turn than what you’re doing, though, since my experience and understanding of daemonic-divine communication has fed directly into my career as horror writer and an explorer of the intersections among and between horror, religion, philosophy, spirituality, and the paranormal.)
So, in short, this all resonates in harmony with your own present work, which I’m finding most absorbing. Thank you. I’m looking forward to reading more.
Jerry L Martin October 25, 2012
Matt, this is a very interesting set of comments. I hope that people who are alarmed at your mention of the “demonic” will understand that you are speaking of daimon, the Greek term Socrates used to describe his own inner divine voice.
It is striking that, coming from a very different background (depth psychology, spiritual philosophy, and the creative arts), you too see the phenomenon of a Higher Intelligence coming to us in a personified form as the key to religion, philosophy, and much more. I was told in prayer something like, “I come to you as a Person” and “you can’t present yourself as a Person without being a Person,” but “I am also much more than a Person.” You and I agree that it is imperative to trust the divine (or daemonic) voice. Since the voice announced itself to me as God, then I trust that it is indeed God who is speaking, though I recognize that the same divine reality that is both a Person and more than a Person might speak to others in a different way. You stress the ways in which listening to the divine or daemonic voice is a source of creativity. My concern is not so much with creativity as with truth. Responding to God is a way of relating to reality in its deepest and fullest dimensions. Of course, these two emphases are compatible. Your website, by the way, is quite fascinating, and I commend it to readers.
I hope you will continue to bring your own deep insights to what is related here.
Jerry L Martin August 12, 2012
Maxine and Bill, thanks for your faith-filled comment.
Abigail sometimes says, “It takes two to make a miracle: God to do it and a person to recognize it as a miracle.”
Thanks for doing your part.
All the best,
Beverly Gibson August 8, 2012
My sister Linda gave me your website to check out. I found your interactions with God very interesting. We were raised in a Christian family, went to church every Sunday, and spent a lot of time involved in church activities. As a young adult I spent a lot of time reading books on different religions, visiting their churches to check out how they “felt.” I even spent 6 months in a psychic commune in the mountains north of Phoenix, an experience that opened my eyes and heart to the things in our universe that we cannot intellectually understand but exist nonetheless.
I do not consider myself religious but I do consider myself spiritual. As my life path goes on, I am trying to learn more about that God force that I know is out there. I look forward to the time when you finish writing your book and I can read it in its entirety. So far I like what I have read. Keep up the good work!
Jerry L Martin August 23, 2012
I find your spiritual journey fascinating. I would be interested in knowing more, if you care to post on the Experience page.
I have puzzled over the distinction between religion and spirituality. Later in the book, I ask about a church my taxi is passing and am told, “There are a lot of good people there but they are not very spiritual.”
Historically, religion has been the chief vehicle for the spirit. It is sad when that is not so.
Mary Wiseman July 15, 2012
I too am a philosopher and a pious agnostic, having been raised Catholic and having gone to Catholic schools through high school. And I know that you are a “level-headed guy.” Your account of the changes in your life–first Abigail, my dear, dear friend, and then the impulse to give thanks in a personal way to whomever or whatever for the change she had wrought in you and in your life–is stunning. I don’t know what to make of your experiences, but I do not doubt that they bespeak something real. I don’t know what, and while your account does not make a believer me in a personal supernatural being, it fills me with wonder at the complexity of the human being and his or her ability to access the wondrous.
Jerry L Martin July 20, 2012
Thank you, Mary, for your generous comments. The purpose of this website is not to make people believers. I don’t think God would have given these messages to an unbeliever if belief were the precondition. The only requirement is being human and being open to what is, as you say, real and wondrous. Whatever readers take in that is valuable for their own lives and thinking is fine with me. Bless you.