From the Friendly Atheist: an Interview with a former nun

You can read Hemant Mehta’s full post about Mary Johnson, a nun who worked under Mother Teresa who is now an atheist (here).

It’s a worthy read.

A couple of my favorite parts happen early in the interview. I’ll post it below. Good writing and interviews tend to make me wish I were that person and that I could snatch up their descriptions of their experiences for myself — save the fact she grew up Catholic while I was protestant to the core. 🙂

Mary Johnson’s four stages and her emphasis on endless, insatiable inquiry are the before and after of my own journey. Kudos to her.

Could you describe your religious journey?

I think my religious journey has four stages.

Child Mary: God is my best friend. I play priest in the backyard, saying Mass with Kool-aid and potato chips.

Teenaged Mary: God is my truth. I see Mother Teresa on the cover of TIME magazine and sense God calling me to a life of adventurous service as a nun.

Nun Mary: God speaks through my superiors (or so they say) and I try to obey. Sometimes God feels close, mostly life is full of sacrifice and struggle. I am a naughty nun, but I last for twenty years.

Now Mary: I think my own thoughts, am responsible for my own actions and no longer believe in God. Life is an adventure again.

How would you describe your faith, or lack thereof, now? 

I believe in mystery. I believe that we shouldn’t pretend to know what we don’t and that we should ask a lot of questions. I believe that we’re all connected, that every human action affects each of us, that living well means making the world a better place. I believe honesty is more important than tradition, that fostering the common good brings more happiness than self-aggrandizement does. Life is full of meaning and frustration, joy and fear, love and uncertainty — and I enjoy wading into the midst of it all.

Read on. 

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