COLUMN: Questions I can’t answer

Don Norvell

“All who come in faith are welcome at the Lord’s table,” the pastor said. I didn’t really believe, but I found myself in line for the sacrament anyway.

I wasn’t even supposed to be at the service. My plan was to attend the Sunday school class on the philosophy of science and religion and go home, but my friend tempted me with free lunch. Like any good college student, I attended worship for FREE FOOD.

Contrary to all my preconceptions, I’m glad I stayed. The sermon was about the apostle Thomas … I cannot explain the experience any better now than I could have five months ago, but there is definitely something worth pursuing.

I didn’t expect the service to have any meaning. I rejected Christianity in high school. Coming to Kent State and finding fanatical preachers at the Student Center plaza drove me to hate Christianity.

After years of oscillating between my own “pseudo-Buddhism,” atheism and various forms of paganism, I remained devoid of meaning.

My personal pantheon could range from zero to 20 gods and goddesses depending upon my mood and the circumstances surrounding my life at a given moment, but no incarnation created the semblance of understanding.

For the longest time, I was content to rely exclusively upon science to answer my questions. After all, every thought surging through my brain is merely an electromagnetic wave in a gray matter medium governed by Maxwell’s equations. The only reason I cannot predict the future composition of my pantheon is that quantum field theory is too cumbersome to handle such a large number of neurons and signals.

Is it really that simple?

Is the universe really so hollow and meaningless?

Is random chance the only reason the mug shot atop this column shows some guy instead of a hot chick?

I’d like to say that attending church religiously (lame pun, I know) for the past five months has led me to some amazing answers, but I’m still lost in this labyrinth. Politics is so easy. The Constitution only changes with the occasional amendment, and most issues are exercises in pragmatism. Simple!

Deep in the heart of it all, there is something I want to find. Not that I ever will. I just can’t escape the feeling that my entire understanding is completely devoid of a fundamental piece.

Quite frankly, I don’t know why I continue going to church. Every time we say the Lord’s Prayer, the single monotone voice reminds me of the Borg collective from “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Those who watched it know how frightening that sounds.

The only relief was the one time I accidentally replaced “hallowed be thy name” with “Howard be thy name.”

In spite of my recent submersion in Christianity, I still resurrect my pantheon from time to time.

It’s hard enough maintaining my grades, watching the news, writing columns and deciding what to do with my Ph.D. once I get it. I have to lose sleep worrying about my immortal soul too.

This must be the reason newspapers are written at a sixth grade level.

Don Norvell is a physics graduate assistant and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].