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Monday, January 27, 2014

David Brooks, "Alone, Yet Not Alone": "Dad, Are You an Atheist?"

Earlier today, I was approached by my youngest son, soon to enlist in the army, who asked if I was an atheist. Busy scrubbing a pot, I brushed my son off. Atheist? Me? I'm not smart enough to reach such conclusions. "There are no atheists in foxholes," I joked. But I suppose that if I had been more attentive, less tired and a better father, I might have answered that I regard myself as just a bruised time traveler attempting to navigate the river, who, while seeking to avoid capsize, has never given the matter sufficient thought.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Alone, Yet Not Alone" (, David Brooks concludes:

"If you are a secular person curious about how believers experience their faith, you might start with Augustine’s famous passage 'What do I love when I love my God,' and especially the way his experience is in the world but then mysteriously surpasses the world:

'It is not physical beauty nor temporal glory nor the brightness of light dear to earthly eyes, nor the sweet melodies of all kinds of songs, nor the gentle odor of flowers, and ointments and perfumes, nor manna or honey, nor limbs welcoming the embraces of the flesh; it is not these I love when I love my God. Yet there is a light I love, and a food, and a kind of embrace when I love my God — a light, voice, odor, food, embrace of my innerness, where my soul is floodlit by light which space cannot contain, where there is sound that time cannot seize, where there is a perfume which no breeze disperses, where there is a taste for food no amount of eating can lessen, and where there is a bond of union that no satiety can part. That is what I love when I love my God.'"

Yes, I'm secular, but at the moment I'm not preoccupied with "a perfume which no breeze disperses" or "light which space cannot contain." Instead, I  am overwhelmed by the 55,000 photographs smuggled out of Syria by a military police officer, which show the emaciated and bloody victims of the Assad regime (see:

We are being confronted with more evidence of genocide, yet where is God? Where are the world's leaders? Where is the outrage on the op-ed page of The New York Times?

I didn't find answers in David's opinion piece.

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