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Embracing Ignorance

Jack Miles On His Path From Belief To Disbelief And Back

We’re all stuck with ignorance as we move from quandary to quandary. What I want to do is make a case for religion as one of the means to cope with this irremediable human condition.

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Why Religion Endures

On a spectrum of postures toward religious faith that runs from organized hostility to muffled contempt to resigned forbearance to never-crosses-my-mind indifference to against-my-better-judgment curiosity to serious interest to fellow-traveling to heartfelt engagement to missionary fervor, where do you place yourself, and how does that dispose you to others’ positions?

Biblioclast

My father. He wanted me to become a writer, but when I did, he didn’t like what I wrote.

He hated my first novel and called it pornography: it features lots of teenage sex and masturbation, as well as an unsavory portrayal of a narcissistic and selfish patriarch.

The Way We Do Not Say What We Mean When We Say What We Say

We say yes when we mean I would rather not. We say no when we mean I would say yes except for all the times yes has proven to be a terrible idea. We say no thank you when every fiber in our bodies is moaning oh yes please. We say you cannot when what we mean is actually you can but you sure by God ought not to. We say no by not saying anything whatsoever.

No Longer On The Map

I had once believed in answers, saviors, miracles, and sages; divine justice and ideal love; the discovery of a lost Taoist parable or a missing biblical passage; a scientific intervention or progressive sociopolitical system that would liberate the oppressed; perhaps even news from NASA about habitable planets accepting applications for novelists. But I knew now that none of this would happen. The letter from a publisher, the spiritual breakthrough, the scientific solution, the literary prize, the big-hearted city, the understanding woman — they were all a mirage.

Order. Now.

There are five essential sweaters I need this season, and one must-have denim that’s guaranteed to flatter every body style, even mine. There are eleven things I could throw away today to reduce clutter immediately and start living my life more freely. Why am I waiting? There are only three more hours to purchase buy-one-get-two-free candles that provide over 150 hours of burn time.

Fiction

The Portal

The second portal to Mere had been two feet high and three feet across. Amber knew this because later she returned to that exact spot beside the woods and measured where the portal had been using her wooden school ruler. She did not know the size of the first portal because she had been much younger then — just six; she was seventeen now — and so she had overlooked many important details.

Readers Write

The Sofa

Napping with dogs, lodging with strangers, destroying the evidence

Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸
The Dog-Eared Page

Three Little Events

But maybe it wasn’t a fluke. Maybe it was a crazy little peek behind the curtain, a dim little whisper of providence from the wings. I had been expected, I was on schedule, I was taking the right journey at the right time. I was not alone.

A Classic from the Bookshelf ▸
Quotations

Sunbeams

Man seeks to worship what is established beyond dispute, so that all men would agree at once to worship it. . . . This craving for community of worship is the chief misery of every man individually and of all humanity from the beginning of time.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

More Quotations ▸
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