I’m astonished that The New York Times allows columnists David Brooks and Ross Douthat to write so often about matters of faith. It shows how little I understand the complicated world of higher journalism.
Brooks, in a recent article “Alone, Yet Not Alone” discusses the role of faith, doubt, loss, wandering, and eventual spiritual renewal in singer-songwriter Audrey Assad. Brooks writes,
And yet there is a silent majority who experience a faith that is attractively marked by combinations of fervor and doubt, clarity and confusion, empathy and moral demand.
While Audrey and I would differ denominationally (I’m Protestant, she’s Roman Catholic), I resonate with her discovering the deep riches of St. Augustine, issues of faith in great literature, and a robust Christianity that predates the 1800’s.
If you are a secular person curious about how believers experience their faith, you might start with Augustine’s famous passage “What do I love when I love my God,” and especially the way his experience is in the world but then mysteriously surpasses the world:
“It is not physical beauty nor temporal glory nor the brightness of light dear to earthly eyes, nor the sweet melodies of all kinds of songs, nor the gentle odor of flowers, and ointments and perfumes, nor manna or honey, nor limbs welcoming the embraces of the flesh; it is not these I love when I love my God. Yet there is a light I love, and a food, and a kind of embrace when I love my God — a light, voice, odor, food, embrace of my innerness, where my soul is floodlit by light which space cannot contain, where there is sound that time cannot seize, where there is a perfume which no breeze disperses, where there is a taste for food no amount of eating can lessen, and where there is a bond of union that no satiety can part. That is what I love when I love my God.”
Read Brooks’ article on Audrey’s journey of faith here.
And here’s a video Brooks mentions of Audrey beautifully singing “I Shall Not Want”: