I bought my first Christian Bible at a used bookstore. It felt like buying porn.

It was difficult to overcome my reluctance to read the New Testament, almost a superstitious avoidance of a bunch of words on the page. I was only willing to confront the text through the prophylactic of an academic experience, done furtively in incognito mode. No classroom, no church, no discussion, an individual rather than communal experience. Can you catch the Holy Spirit from an Open Yale Course? What’s the epidemiology of faith?

We’re watching an Italian TV show. Priest-on-a-bicycle Don Matteo quotes from Mark, the woman grasping Jesus’ garment. And I’m nodding my head, yeah I know that story.

Wedding at Cana: The miracle wasn’t the point. It’s that the bridegroom saved the good wine for later. New wine, old skins.

Studying religion and classical history as “view source” for Western culture.

Paul’s theology demands not only faith, but adherence to monastic practices — a fixation on sexuality, the idea of the body as a temple that cannot be defiled by sexual urges. Here we have the point where the religion turned from the gospel to the keepers of the faith.

Today’s orthodoxy is just one of many interpretations, the interpretation that won out, a form of religious Darwinism.

Early Christianity and early Judaism would be equally unrecognizable to today’s practitioners. Both are subject to the survivor effect, which makes today’s practices seem normal, yesterday’s practices unusual and heretical. The inevitable, near-impregnable response is that the providential hand of the Lord picks the winners.

Vatican, March 2015

Deep appreciation for my Christian friends who welcomed me into their fold without ever making it about religion.

Edited notes from 2015 journal