My friend sent me this by email. I like the term “pivot point”. What was yours?:
I did not go seeking this. I found it during a second reading of Ingersoll’s grandaughter’s (Eva Ingersoll Wakefield) “The Letters of Robert Ingersoll” published in 1951. The first 68 pages contain a marvellous review of his life, lectures, and work.
You probably know of this, if so you are reminded.
There I found on pages 8-9, what surely must have been Ingersoll’s Pivot Point — at age seven!
“The first sermon he heard that made any deep impression on him was at the age of seven. A Freewill Baptist preacher gave such a graphic and frightful description of hell that ‘it left a mark like a scar’ on his mind forever. The preacher did full justice to his subject painting an unforgettable picture of the two men (The Rich Man and Lazarus) in life and in death against the background of hell and its eternal torments.“The eloquence of this itinerant evangelist brought home to Robert Ingersoll the true meaning of the dogma of eternal punishment- awakened his imagination to the ‘height and depth of Christian horror.’“From that moment he told himself: ‘It is a lie, and I hate your religion!’”“From that moment, for him, the flames of hell were quenched, and he passionately hated every orthodox creed. This Free Will sermon marked the turning point in Ingersoll’s intellectual life.”