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updikeI am quite fond of the 2000 piece in The New Yorker by the late John Updike titled “The Future of Faith: Confessions of a Churchgoer”, especially this bit:

My father to the day of his death, more than twenty-five years later, served that church, in various capacities, while I escaped to college and beyond. He was the son of a minister, but he felt that his father had failed in the ministry, having lacked "the call" and the necessary energy. Where many fathers, some of them described in late Victorian novels, conveyed to their sons an oppressive faith that it was a joy to cast off, my father communicated to me, not with words but with his actions and mournful attitudes, a sense of the Christian religion as something weak and tenuous and in need of rescue. There is a way in which success disagrees with Christianity, and its proper venue is embattlement — a furtive hanging on in the catacombs, or at ill-attended services in dying rural and inner-city parishes. Its perilous, marginal, mocked existence serves as an image of our own, beneath whatever appearance of success is momentarily mustered. At any rate, I had no Oedipal motive to discard it; at college and then in New York City I found my way fitfully to Lutheran services, shunning deeper involvement but stealing away cleansed and lightened, and taking a certain contrarian pride in participating in ceremonies that, by the wisdom of the world, were profitless and irrational.

Bolding mine.


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Jared C. Wilson


Jared C. Wilson is the Director of Content Strategy for Midwestern Seminary, managing editor of For The Church, director of The Pastoral Training Center at Liberty Baptist Church, and author of more than ten books, including Gospel Wakefulness, The Pastor’s Justification, and The Prodigal Church. You can follow him on Twitter.

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