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Sunday, April 08, 2012  

This is the Night!

My Easter column for The Daily:

Vivien grew up in Taipei, Taiwan. Her Buddhist grandparents kept a traditional shrine to their ancestors and her Catholic mother went to Mass. While studying at a prestigious Christian boarding school, Vivien went to church a few times to hang out with friends and meet boys, but the required religion classes bored her, literally, to sleep. The Catholic college she attended in America made no greater impact. “If someone had asked me what my religion was, I would have said I had no religion,” she said.

Interestingly enough, she was convinced of the existence of God from her earliest memories. “Nobody had to tell me,” she said. “Whenever I got frustrated, I got angry at him.” Yet only later, after some encouragement from her recently-baptized brother, did she start peeking into the city’s churches.

“I actually felt something,” she said of coming to church. She would weep during the hymns and at communion (it helped, she added, that the church’s senior pastor is a woman). “My life was pretty fulfilling” before getting involved in a religious community. She had a good career and a happy marriage and wasn’t looking to solve her problems through faith. “I was just really into the sermons.” Before long, she began feeling a strong desire to be baptized. She met regularly with a mentor and was baptized a year ago at the vigil.

Modern Christian converts rarely arrive by an obvious path. American popular culture does not promote familiarity with the basics of Christian life and thought (not that it necessarily should). Spiritual seekers can find countless ways to experience awe, or feel accepted, or embrace a challenge without making the kind of leap involved in a symbolic drowning.

posted by Benjamin Dueholm | 6:56 PM
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