WHILE SPENDING A WEEKEND in the country not long ago, I slipped out to an Episcopal service on Sunday morning while my hosts and their other guests were still asleep. When I returned, everybody was up sipping coffee and deeply into their worship of the morning papers. Immediately, I sensed my absence had been discussed. This suspicion was confirmed soon enough.
“What did you learn in church?” Bart asked in the singsong voice adults most often use when addressing toddlers.
“Forty days have passed since Easter,” I replied. “The priest spoke about Christ’s Ascension.”
“Did Jesus float up gradually, like a hot-air balloon, or did he blast off like the space shuttle?” Jane wondered aloud.
Hardly a promising start to an enlightening conversation on spirituality. So, doing what sometimes works best when a religious discussion seems headed nowhere, I answered her question with one of my own: What’s for breakfast?
As religious intolerance goes, my friends’ sarcasm was no burning at the stake. Nor was it exactly a surprise. Quite frequently, in fact, when someone learns that I go …