In the past I have poked some gentle fun at my own feeble Episcopalianism,
and at the kind of deeply-committed Christian readers who chide me for it.
Though I am not certain, I believe the phrase “holier than thou” may have
passed my lips.
In my heart, though, I know that my holier-than-thou readers have got
something I have not got; and that I have been offering up St Augustine’s
plea — “sed noli modo” –
for much too long.
All of which has been brought home to me by many responses along the
following lines to my “Sleepless in Suburbia” column
“Mr. Derbyshire—Some years ago I would periodically wake in the late
watches of the night and ponder an infinite future without… me.
Fascinated by infinity as a child (damaging my mother’s mirrors with little
holes in the center to see the ‘infinite’ reflection), I used to lie awake
marveling at the idea of donning a space suit and walking forever in one
direction. This childhood fascination returned in a much darker shade once
the shock of mortality finally set in. I would console myself with the
thought that, having missed nothing prior to my arrival, I should not miss
it after my departure. This was, at best, cold comfort.
“My first child was born on 1983. We decided she should have religion and
began attending church. I was forced to read the Bible as part of the
membership rites. One day, returning from a business trip, I was pondering
the impossibility of loving my neighbor as myself. As I drove along I
suddenly knew two things: Sin was simply failing to love the Lord my God
with all my heart and soul and mind and strength; and Jesus, on the cross,
looked down history and said ‘Tim, this is for you.’ In the ensuing battles
between the natural man and the spiritual man, this knowledge has remained
my anchor. I cannot explain why or how I know this. But I can tell you
that I have not once awoken with that start of fear these past 20 years.
Kids and work and past embarrassments are still there. But not death. That
sting is gone. I suspect it is gone for good.
“I am convinced this peace is somehow from God, through Christ. I am also
convinced that I found it (He found me) because I was reading and pondering
the Bible. I encourage your study.
“With sincerest respect,