I'm no lover of fences, of the limitations, boundaries and delineations they represent. Yes, sometimes they're necessary. In some ways, such boundaries actually afford us the confidence and safety to stretch ourselves, to go farther than we would have without any sense of place, of where the unknown begins.
On some level, I believed atheism was hereditary. That the composition of my DNA couldn't produce anything other than me. And so, when my first daughter was born, I made a conscious effort to introduce her to religion. I wanted to make sure that whatever beliefs she formed, they were of her own making, not mine.
When you see people circling the Ka'aba it may look like a swarm, a school of fish, a galaxy swirling its way counterclockwise ... just because. From overhead it's a maelstrom that never sinks into the sea. It's a powerful, living organism, a community of Babel, in which individuals experience communion with "the other."
Since the genesis of my divinity school career, I have spent more Sundays in the comfort of my bedroom than listening to sermons in stiff-backed pews. This routine is less rebellion than it is the setting aside of time for another important act of worship in my life: the leisurely consumption of coffee.
In recent years, flash mobs have appeared in shopping malls, and surprised people by singing the "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's Messiah. These eruptions of song appear to be spontaneous -- they are surprising and inspiring, bringing worship into the middle of typically secular spaces. The book of Revelation is full of surprises.