In last week’s Sunday Times, Josh Glancy wrote about being a lapsed Catholic. He spoke about Cardinal Newman’s being canonized and the miracles attributed to him. A friend of his asked who could believe in miracles. Josh used to believe, he said, he genuinely believed he had a second father in heaven who would intercede on his behalf “if I asked him nicely enough. I used to ask God for all sorts – for Manchester United to win the Champions’ League, for good exam results. In return, I was well-behaved. I didn’t litter, I didn’t swear. That was our deal.”
“It seems silly in retrospect. Over time my faith eroded and I realised I’d been enacting a fantasy. I do miss it, though. I’ve never regretted my loss of faith, but I’m certain I was a better person then. I didn’t realise how much I missed it until I started watched Shtisel an Israeli series that recently appeared on Netflix, best described as an upmarket Haredi Coronation Street. Its the best depiction of any religious community I’ve ever seen, presenting them as real people – complex, anxious, loving and foolish.”
“The show brought it all back: what a life of faith really feels like. The fraternal warmth, the empowerment of self-restraint and the deep comfort of having an omnipotent being fighting your corner. The bad stuff came back, too, of course: the repression, the fear of sin, the regulating every aspect of daily life. But the contrast between the calm, ancient, ordered rhythm of life in Shtisel and the frantic, impluse driven vortex that we modern cosmopolitans inhabit, struck me. I felt envious of their world, despite knowing its many flaws all too well.” He writes more but I guess many of you are familiar with the sort of things lapsed Catholics say about the faith they once loved or followed or both.”
We understand, knowing our own frailties. Two excellent books that you might enjoy for Lent, of atheists who found faith, are “Surprised by Joy” by C.S. Lewis and “Elected Silence” by Thomas Merton. You will enjoy their finding faith and God.
God bless us and everyone,
(17th March 2019)