I tried for years to be an atheist, then an agnostic, and, after failing at both, I thought I might become a kind of religious omnivore, cobbling bits of doctrine into a patchwork spirituality that would offer inspiration, or solace in times of trouble. I couldn’t manage that either. In fact I despised the notion for its indulgent and self-serving nature, entirely absent of principle and tailored to meet only my most shallow needs, like a dating website or an expensive shampoo. I tried then to put the subject out of my mind all together, but my sense of the divine—my belief in belief—could not be suppressed.
I have never been able to parse it in any meaningful way. All my attempts begin with theological assertions and devolve into some syrupy business about the cosmos and the presence of God in all things. I am perpetually suspended between my belief—its resonance in my life, in the lives of the people I have loved, and indeed in the lives of millennia of believers—and the malignant distortions inherent in compressing that belief into doctrine. And too, there is a distance between belief and faith, into which doubt and half-heartedness interject. How to explore the conundrum of faith; with what language could I articulate the inarticulable?