09/08/2011 11:02 am ET | Updated Nov 08, 2011

Notes From A Black Agnostic: 'Like Being A Foreigner In Your Own Homeland'

To be a black agnostic is almost akin to being a foreigner in your homeland.Last fall, not long after I returned from a family trip to Jerusalem, we received word that my cousin in Alabama had passed away. For my mother, Natalie's death was more like losing a sister. We gathered our still-unpacked bags and, like migrants returning to the old country, we made our way to Bessemer to pay respects to our departed kin.

On the day of the service, my mother sat near the first row wearing a stricken expression that I had never seen before. The church itself seemed to sway as the pastor sang my cousin's praises, exhorted us past out grief and assured the bereaved that God had greeted this virtuous woman with open arms saying, "Well done my good and faithful servant."
The pastor spoke of an eternal day, not far off, when we would be reconciled with her cherished sweet soul.
I broke down at that point.

It was not solely because of the sermon, but because something at the core of me had been shaken by what the sermon represented.

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