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Thursday, April 04, 2013

Roger Ebert on God

Sad to see that Roger Ebert has died. He's known for his movie reviews but he also wrote about religion. His most recent post on this (I think) was How I am a Roman Catholic (March 1, 2013). He wrote at more length in this 2009 post ...

How I believe in God

[...] I was an altar boy. Even in the dead of winter I rode my bike to church to serve at the early morning mass. In those days parents thought nothing of a grade school kid riding his bike all over town. One morning early in my service I got confused and didn't have the water and wine where they were required. I was maybe nine or ten When we got back to the sacristy, I burst into tears and Father McGinn took me on his lap and comforted me and said God knew I had done my best. If a priest did that today, he would be arrested, but no priest or nun ever treated me with other than love and care.


Catholicism made me a humanist before I knew the word. When people rail against "secular humanism," I want to ask them if humanism itself would be okay with them. Over the high school years, my belief in the likelihood of a God continued to lessen .... Did I start calling myself an agnostic or an atheist? No, and I still don't. I avoid that because I don't want to provide a category for people to apply to me. I would not want my convictions reduced to a word. Chaz, who has a firm faith, leaves me to my beliefs. "But you know you're one or the other," she says. "I have never told you that," I say. "Maybe not in so many words, but you are," she says.

But I persist in believing I am not. During in all the endless discussions on several threads of this blog about evolution, intelligent design, God and the afterworld, now numbering altogether around 3,500 comments, I have never said, although readers have freely informed me I am an atheist, an agnostic, or at the very least a secular humanist--which I am. If I were to say I don't believe God exists, that wouldn't mean I believe God doesn't exist. Nor does it mean I don't know, which implies that I could know ......

RIP, Roger.


Blogger PrickliestPear said...

I was saddened to hear this, as I've been a fan ever since I was a teenager, when I would stay up until half past midnight on Sunday nights to watch Siskel & Ebert.

And I loved reading his reviews; he was a terrific writer, and I could often tell if I would like a movie based on his review of it, even if he didn't like it himself.

I enjoyed reading the things he wrote about religion. I was under the impression he was an atheist (though his Catholic upbringing clearly had a lasting influence, to judge from how often he mentioned it in his reviews). But it seems to me that the "God" he didn't believe in is one that I don't believe in, either--though I wouldn't say, as he seems to have said, that the existence of God is unknowable. Such a view does, despite his protestations to the contrary, situate him within the boundaries of "agnosticism" as usually defined. But I suppose he knows the truth now.

8:23 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

I used to watch his tv show reviews too. I hope his website with all his past reviews will remain up. I didn't realize until I started visiting his blog that he had so many other interests too. Sometimes it's hard to understandably define what we believe, even to ourselves - maybe he was willing to live with that ephemeraliy where God was concerned?

11:47 PM  

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