One could easily replace the word Harding with “the church” and yet in all my conversations with the Queer Pressers, I hear much more love for the university then for the faith on which it’s allegedly built. Of the zine staff I spend time with, only Sarah still unequivocally identifies as a Christian. Two others claim to be atheists; a third says, “it’s still to painful” to think about faith: and a forth cryptically identifies himself as a “Christian atheist”.
This bothers me, less because they no longer believe in the god of their childhoods - I’m not sure I believe in that god, either - then because they didn’t lose their faith so much as have it taken from them, In a denomination that believes in free will, they were stripped of it. They were taught that homosexuality was their key choice, a sinful and eternity-changing choice that put God off-limits to them.
The most remarkable thing is that despite how Harding has insistently preached this anti-gospel to them, they’ve been so forgiving of it. They’ve ended up more easily accepting this institution, which teaches a vision of the world that’s all blacks, whites, and dogma, then they have the faith that under girds it, a faith that, to me, is so much more diverse, able to deal with complexity, and open to addressing the greys of life.
And being very tired and having nothing inside him, he felt so sorry for himself that the tears rolled down his cheeks.
What put a stop to all this was a sudden fright. Shasta discovered that someone or something was walking beside him. It was pitch dark and he could see nothing. And the Thing (or Person) was going so quietly that he could hardly hear any footfalls. What he could hear was breathing. His invisible companion seemed to breath on a very large scale, and Shasta got the impression that it was a very large creature. And he had come to notice this breathing so gradually that he had really no idea how long it had been there. It was a horrible shock.
The Thing (unless it was a Person) went on beside him so very quietly that Shasta began to hope he had only imagined it. But just as he was becoming quite sure of it, there suddenly came a deep, rich sigh out of the darkness beside him. That couldn’t be imagination! Anyway he had felt the hot breath of that sigh on his chilly left hand.