The Closet Christian

“Daughters have secrets from their mothers — the unsuitable man, the vodka habit, the misspent night…But what I really did not want her to find out, what I could never bring myself to tell her, was that I go to church — and not just at Christmas. My mother, Marion, was an atheist — a genuine one with no hedging of bets at the last minute when she died, no keeping her options open just in case.”

So begins an article for The London Daily Mail by Sarah Foot, novelist. Her mother was an atheist due in large part, if not entirely, to her multiple sclerosis. Wheelchair bound and helpless for decades, she saw no reason to believe in any God. Right through to the bitter, eternal end.

After reading many books about different faiths, Sarah settled on Christianity, specifically The Church of England “…thanks to an Anglican priest. He believed that different faiths were just different ways of reaching the same end.” However, the church she attends is rife with the same problems discussed in my recent posts on the book Already Gone by Ken Ham.

She regularly attends, albeit with a shrinking group of parishioners: “There are so few of us, we sit in a tiny side chapel. Even on a good day numbers rarely exceed 20. The faces are nearly always the same. And though I won’t see 50 (years old) again, I am invariably the youngest, sometimes by a decade or two. Who will sit with me when I am the age of my fellow communicants, I have no idea.”

She could not confess her “sin” of going to church to her mother. She felt guilty over the idea of telling her mother that there’s a loving God when she herself can walk about freely in an undamaged body. That very fact calls her faith into question. She wonders why she believes and even whether she believes. She struggles with her faith. As I read her, I hear a cry for a reason to believe in the One True God and to look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come even as she repeats the Nicene Creed every Sunday. It sounds as if it would be so easy for her to let go, to escape the seemingly unanswerable questions that vex her faith.

But there is hope. Her soul is crying out to God, and the Holy Spirit is still calling her to a strong faith in that One Eternal God: “…if I was told I could not go to church again, I fear something in me would completely wither and that despair would then set in.”

Here’s the real question for her and the reason why she, in her fifties, is by far the youngest attendee at her small church. It’s the Anglican priest himself who is letting her down and destroying his own parish. How? It’s right there in the quote above. He preaches that all faiths are merely different routes to the same end.

If that same priest himself would preach the unadulterated Word of God, his attendance would grow. Sarah’s faith would become firmer, and she would know the answers to her misgivings.

She would know that sin, not God, is responsible for her mother’s ultimately fatal MS. She would not have to feel guilty about her faith, as if she is the weak one who relies on a possible fairy tale. She would know that the stirring in her soul, the part she says would wither and die if she stopped altogether, is crying out for solid, spiritual food. She would know she is still alive spiritually, albeit faintly.

I am saddened to see such a graphic example of what Already Gone is all about. I am heartened that she still listens to the small voice of her soul seeking that which is wants so desperately.

“…I seek that reminder more than once a year — even though, intellectually, I can demolish my church-going in seconds, having no rational explanation for it…I desperately want to believe that there is a peace beyond my understanding, a place of infinite tenderness, that, in the end, I am — that we all are — always loved. So I will be on the side of the angels — and not just at Christmas — in the hope that they are not just a figment of my imagination and yearning, but genuine tidings of comfort and joy.”

Please join me in praying for her and all of those like her who are being let down by weak clergy and still seek. Pray that she finds her way to really know that One True God she doubtfully confesses every Sunday in the Nicene Creed.


Please see the article in its entirety:

One thought on “The Closet Christian

  1. Good entry. For sure to pray and think of those who are are lost and seeking. Also prayers that God will open the eyes and hearts of even the avowed atheists. For God can even change the hearts of the terrorists too I pray. Blessings, Barb

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