Great article in the NY Times Magazine this week: “The Evangelical Scion Who Stopped Believing” about Bart Campolo, a star in the world of evangelical Christianity, who left it all behind to become the humanist chaplain at USC in Los Angeles. Campolo is described as a “post-Christian”—someone who loved everything about the Christian ministry except the Christianity, that is, his focus was on community building, friendship, taking care of those in need, those going through a hard time, and not on the virgin birth, the resurrection, the miracles which some would call magical thinking. By talking with Greg Epstein (Good Without God), the humanist chaplain at Harvard and head of the Humanist Hub, Bart eventually found his way to his new position in LA.
The article raises the key question: Can we have the benefits of what an old-style religion offers without the supernatural? We better all hope the answer is a resounding “yes!” because it’s so often the supernatural–that metaphysical quagmire–that creates the zealots, so caught up in the phantasmagoria of paradise, angels, hell, and transubstantiation that all the humanity has been wrung out of our brief lives here on this Earth and we’re left with an electorate determined to create God’s kingdom on Earth with all the bigotry and hatred that too often go with it.
I particularly like the picture at the head of the article. Look at the crowd of college students bonding through laughter at something Bart is saying. That’s the Sacrament of the Group, creating those invaluable human-to-human connections through humor. They will remember more about their time in that group and that leader than in any classroom they’ve ever been in.