Religion — What is it?

From Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss:

I think of this when I hear people say they have no religious impulse whatsoever, or when I hear believers, or would-be believers, express a sadness and frustration that they have never been absolutely overpowered by God.

I always want to respond: Really?

You have never felt overwhelmed by, and in some way inadequate to, an experience in your life,

have never felt something in yourself staking a claim beyond your self,

some wordless mystery straining through words to reach you?


Religion is not made of these moments;

religion is the means of making these moments part of your life rather than merely radical intrusions so foreign and perhaps even fearsome that you can’t even acknowledge their existence afterward. Religion is what you do with these moments of over-mastery in your life.

P. 70, my format.

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