Extraordinary good and horrendous evil have been done in the name of religion. Unfortunately, those who commit evil in the name of religion often hijack the entire religion and sully its name. Nowhere do we see this more than in Islam; there are more than a billion Muslims and possibly a few hundred thousand who commit violence in its name. But there has never been a faith that has not committed atrocities in its name.
3. Everything is about religion.
When I first suggested that The Post cover religion more comprehensively, it was purely from a journalistic point of view. It seemed that so much of what we covered had a religion angle to it. Little did I realize that it touched so much more. My friend Welton Gaddy, a Southern Baptist minister, told me about a friend who informed him that she had absolutely no interest in religion. “Well,” he asked her, “are you interested in national politics or foreign policy?”
“What about abortion, gay marriage, immigration and the environment?” he asked.
Of course she was.
“Well, then,” he replied, “you’re interested in religion.”
Gaddy might well have added the financial bailout, poverty, disease, movies, music, holidays, parenting, sexual abuse, animal rights, sports, books, the Web, the military, women’s rights, racism, violence, crime, marriage, family, science, medicine and on and on. Everyone is interested in religion. They just don’t know it.
4. We are all looking for meaning.
We are all searching for the transcendent, for a sense of the divine. Even those who claim no faith, no belief, cannot ignore the three questions: Who am I? Why am I here? What then must I do?
Life is hard. No matter whether you are religious or not, you will have periods of extreme doubt that will make you ask, “What is the point?” Nobody gets a pass.
Viktor Frankl, in his famous book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” written after the Holocaust, asks the question and answers it for himself. I think I know what gives my life meaning, what the sense of the divine is for me, what I find transcendent. I have found this out by studying religion. That doesn’t mean I have any answers. It only means I believe I know why I am here.
There is no greater conversation than this.
5. Why there is suffering.
In these five years, I have met, interviewed and talked to thousands of people about their faith or lack of faith. The question I ask over and over, and particularly to people of faith, is: “How do you explain suffering?”