“I used to say, ‘There is a God-shaped hole in me.’ For a long time I stressed the absence, the hole. Now I find it is the shape which has become more important.” — Salman Rushdie
I am not a Christian.
I was technically raised Jewish, but in reality, I didn’t have much of a religious background at all growing up. As an adult, I took greater interest in religion, but have never really managed to find a spiritual home.
When I married my wife, a Christian, I saw the difference that having such a background can make. Tomorrow, she and my two young boys will both head to church as they do every Sunday (something that is unfortunately rare in our affluent and over-educated subculture) to joyously celebrate the Easter holiday. She’ll head straight to services after getting off her night shift at the hospital.
While I only rarely join them, I am very glad that my children are getting the religious background that I never had. I can see first-hand in my family’s experience the value of a strong religious belief, and a strong religious community, It acts as both a strong faith-based fellowship and as a welcome check against the materialism and superficiality of our modern culture. It also wards off a belief that we can create a heaven on earth–an arrogance which lies at the heart of the worldview of our political opponents.
This afternoon I was reading “Notes on the Way” an obscure essay by George Orwell, himself an agnostic, but one who, in many ways longed after religious tradition and understood its vital role at the heart of Western Civilization.
Writing about the views of the first modern secularists, Orwell noted
“It was absolutely necessary that the soul should be cut away. Religious belief, in the form we had known it, had to be abandoned. . . . Consequently there was a long period during which nearly every thinking man was a rebel and usually quite an irresponsible rebel. . . For two hundred years we had sawed and sawed at the branch we were sitting on. And in the end, much more suddenly than anyone had foreseen our efforts were rewarded and down we came. But unfortunately, there had been a little mistake. The thing at the bottom was not a bed of roses at all. It was a cesspool filled with barbed wire. . . . So it appears the amputation of your soul isn’t just a simple surgical job, like having your appendix out. The wound has a tendency to go septic”
The wound has a tendency to go septic.
Indeed it does. And even as someone who suffers from time to time with my own “God-shaped hole” I know that it is the shape, rather than the hole, that is most important. Our society’s wounds are currently suffering from an infection by modern secular liberalism, the ideology of a group of men and women determined to exalt the state to a place in our lives where only God should go.
For those many Red Staters whose belief in the wounds suffered by Jesus two millennia ago, and his subsequent triumph over them, provide a permanent inoculation against any ideology which seeks to turn a politician into our savior, I offer my blessing to you this Easter, and hope that for both you and your families, that this will be a season of joy.