Roger Ebert Has Died

Roger Ebert, who died today, earned so much admiration when his life turned darkest. Here is his personal account of his religious biography and how he came to be a secular humanist. Though he disclaimed the label atheism for various reasons,  the following qualifies him as one under my definition at least:

Let me rule out at once any God who has personally spoken to anyone or issued instructions to men. That some men believe they have been spoken to by God, I am certain. I do not believe Moses came down from the mountain with any tablets he did not go up with. I believe mankind in general evidently has a need to believe in higher powers and an existence not limited to the physical duration of the body. But these needs are hopes, and believing them doesn’t make them true. I believe mankind feels a need to gather in churches, whether physical or social.

I’ve spent hours and hours in churches all over the world. I sit in them not to pray, but to gently nudge my thoughts toward wonder and awe. I am aware of the generations there before me. The reassurance of tradition. At a midnight mass on Christmas Eve at the village church in Tring in the Chilterns, I felt unalloyed elevation. My favorite service is Evensong. I subscribe to Annie Dilliard, who says that in an unfamiliar area, she seeks out the church of the oldest established religion she can find, because it has the most experience in not bring struck by lightning.

Read the whole thing.

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