Every two or three blocks on the avenues of downtown Brooklyn, a big old stone church rises from the ranks of the brownstones. A couple of weeks ago, my little boy Felix pulled his trike to the curb and squinted at the steeple of one.
"What's that castle, Da-da?"
"It's not a castle, it's a church."
"What's a church?"
"It's a place where people go to worship god."
"God is a concept some people believe in. A creative force, I guess you'd say."
And with that, he rode on. I must admit, this isn't the most compelling definition of the supreme being I could think of - I attended Catholic school for nine years and am steeped in Bible lore. I could've told him the story of the Garden of Eden, in which god-with-a-capital-G appears as a benevolent father whom his creations defy, or perhaps recounted how the vengeful deity punished Sodom and Gomorrah, or the demanding dictator demanded Her loyal subject Abraham to sacrifice his only son. Or I could've went New Testament and talked about Jesus, and The Golden Rule, and the Virgin Mary. But while I'm familiar with these stories and dig many of them - they're dramatic narratives, no doubt - I don't believe these tales are true in any literal or even metaphoric sense.
I'm agnostic on a good day. Most days, I identify as straight-up atheist. I seem to lack something required for believing in a god - "Faith!" some of you will say. Yes, I do lack that, and have for as long as I can remember. Even in Catholic school, where reciting dogma meant receiving good grades, the stories just seemed to me to be only that: stories.
The first time I received the sacrament of Holy Eucharist, in third grade, I looked over at my best friend, kneeling at a nearby pew, his face transfixed with some emotion I wasn't experiencing. The wafer lacked flavor, it sucked up my spit, turning to a gummy mash that I affixed to the roof of my mouth with my tongue. "This is it?" I thought. "God? He needs salt." [continue]
God needs a lot more than just salt ... it needs something which it is terminally lacking: