I sit down for the third time in my life to write about my religious experience. This may be a dangerous thing, since each of the previous two times, I made a decision, announced on paper, which in fact so served to clear my head that I instantly turned around and did the opposite. At 25 I wrote about accepting my native Catholicism, got published, and turned Jewish. At 40 I at length digested my Jewish “journey,” got published, and found that after all it had become too thin a gruel to live on. And shortly left. With no pained or weepy explanations to my friends there, which was remiss of me. I did get a few phone calls, which I ignored. Which was remiss of me.
In The Closing of the American Mind Allan Bloom wrote that in his teaching experience, “students who had had a really serious fling with drugs, and gotten over it,” seemed emptied out of much ability to experience much else with freshness or enthusiasm. “It was as if their vision had been drained of color.” Religious experiments, changing and changing about, may be like that. I remember cleverly telling my journal, after all my efforts now it was over, that one might say the Master of all and I had agreed to shake hands and say no more about it.
That was ten years ago. I find I would like religion in my life again, or rather no, that isn’t quite how it begins anew. It is almost no longer personal. And I was never a “seeker” in some vague way. I never approached Buddhism or anything else. What has happened to the whole Western world has been two things, Islam’s rise and liberalism’s fall. (Now anything further that I write touching these two topics will be derivative, just other people’s observations and conclusions on politics or “elite agendas,” so you must excuse me if I seem to fling off the occasional truism.) Islam’s violence is an everyday shock and Western liberalism seems to have nothing left in its tank but a kind of leering, white-eyed boredom causing it to decide idiotic things like there aren’t two sexes anymore, and to administer the resulting lawsuits. If the latter half of this observation, about Western collapse, did not use to be so, what has been lost or forgotten and where did it come from?