An Autobiographical Soteriology
I became a Christian in what is perhaps one of the most non-religious places in the world: the drama department at New York University. NYU is a place where there is great passion for progressive social and political change, but where any question about religion is most often answered with the standard response, “I’m spiritual, but not religious,” which can usually be interpreted as meaning that the one questioned smokes pot and listens to Bob Marley on at least a semi-regular basis. It still seems ironic to me that this, of all places, was the setting of my Christian conversion.
The story goes something like this: I was raised in a non-religious family. My father is a devoutly atheist Jew, my mother a wounded ex-Catholic who doesn’t believe in God but won’t say so for fear of going to Hell. When I was thirteen or so I decided there must be more to life than my parents were letting on, and I began an exploration of religion and religious communities, active in turns in Taoist, Hindu, Muslim and Bahá’í communities before settling on Buddhism at the end of high school. I don’t know why I never explored Christianity or Judaism in my early religious search—perhaps I figured that the religions that let my folks down couldn’t have had much to offer me.
I arrived at NYU as a practicing Buddhist. Some of my first college friends were people who, mysteriously, seemed to be compassionate and intelligent people despite their Christianity, a contradiction that intrigued me. I continued to beleaguer them with questions and probe them for ideas, and soon I began to realize that much of their compassion and integrity was drawn precisely from their faith, and I became even more fascinated. Finally, one of these people (the person who, unbeknownst to me at the time, would six years later agree to become my wife) convinced me to read a gospel with an open mind and an open heart—to let Jesus speak for... [continues]
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