I will begin this story when I was age seven or eight and my bible was Popular Science Monthly. I was intrigued by the explanations of how things worked, and it stimulated my interest in electricity and electronics, which became the focus of my studies at MIT. My parents were basically agnostic and religion was hardly ever discussed. (They were married in a beautiful back yard garden by a Justice of the Peace.) My dad’s field of work was mechanical engineering and I suspect that for my mom church was primarily a social obligation and opportunity to meet new friends. But the acquaintances invited for bridge parties and other events were always couples connected with my father’s work. My father’s closest friend and colleague was Julius Schlitt, a fellow engineer, who headed a Jewish household, although I never understood the significance of that until many years later.
My middle school years (1944 – 1946) were during the final phases of WWII, but the plight of the Jews and the holocaust never entered my awareness. In high school I became more of a social person, participating in several musical groups and playing matches on the chess team. That earned me two Darien High School letters in spite of zero athletics! Years as an MIT undergrad led to considerable enlightenment, especially through reading Plato’s Republic, and Ruth Benedict’s Patterns of Culture. I had a roommate as a sophomore who proclaimed that Christianity is the greatest hoax ever played on mankind!
Fast forward to 1976 when my first wife took off to study medicine in Detroit. She left me with the suggestion that I check out First Church for new social connections. Lo and behold, the first service I attended was also the first conducted by Margorie Sams as settled minister! She led the choir in a procession around the sanctuary singing Nova, Nova! I was impressed, immediately joined the senior choir, and have been singing for Alfa ever since. Marjorie also pointed me to Star Island, extolling its virtues, and I discovered IRAS, the Institute for Religion in an age of Science. I have been a member of IRAS ever since, enjoying the intellectual stimulation of the summer conferences. My participation began with a bang, for in 1979 the conference centered on the sociobiology of E. O. Wilson, with a supporting cast from anthropology and neurobiology as well as theology. So here I am, a confirmed atheist, but increasingly appreciative of the spiritual aspect of life.
In the last several years I have enjoyed participating in our Science and Spirituality discussion group, and, in spite of having moved to Cambridge, look forward to many more years with First Church and the wonderful people here.