Friday Excerpt | Under the Banner of Heaven
The excerpt below is author Jon Krakauer responding to an argument made by Mormon historian Dr. Michael Quinn that folks who write about religion should disclose to their readers what their own theological beliefs are. Found in the “Author’s Remarks,” this was perhaps the most moving section of the book. Read. Digest. Repeat.
I don’t know what God is, or what God had in mind when the universe was set in motion. In fact, I don’t know if God even exists, although I confess that I sometimes find myself praying in times of great fear, or despair, or astonishment at a display of unexpected beauty.
There are some ten thousand extant religious sects – each with its own cosmology, each with its own answer for the meaning of life and death. Most assert that the other 9,999 not only have it completely wrong but are instruments of evil, besides. None of the ten thousand has yet persuaded me to make the requisite leap of faith. In the absence of conviction, I’ve come to terms with the fact that uncertainty is an inescapable corollary of life. An abundance of mystery is simply part of the bargain – which doesn’t strike me as something to lament. Accepting the essential inscrutability of existence, in any case, is surely preferable to its opposite: capitulating to the tyranny of intransigent belief.
And if I remain in the dark about our purpose here, and the meaning of eternity, I have nevertheless arrived at an understanding of a few more modest truths: Most of us fear death. Most of us yearn to comprehend how we got here, and why – which is to say, most of us ache to know the love of our creator. And we will no doubt feel that ache, most of us, for as long as we happen to be alive.
~Jon Krakauer, Under the Banner of Heaven, pg 339