J Walking

Last week I spoke at American University. I just talked about the book — the intensely personal one I actually wrote as opposed to the purely political one some people think I wrote.

Below is a note from a young woman who was there. I post these words because they are the best words I could have imagined anyone writing. They capture far better than anything I’ve written what I frequently try to say. As you read them you’ll see that they come from someone with great wisdom and a deeply humbling and powerful faith.

Dear Mr. Kuo,

Let me start off by prefacing this with a confession. I would not have gone to hear you speak had I not received extra credit for a write-up on your book/discussion. I went in skeptical of what you had to say, skeptical of the conservative right. I went for selfish reasons, but I left with a new outlook of not only the republican party but religion and politics as a whole.

I am a senior at American University, originally from Boston. I was raised in an extremely Catholic household. My parents were/are actively involved in the church. And until college so was I. In college, like most people, I began to question my faith. I started to question the political stance of the Catholic Church, the sex-abuse scandal (of which my home pastor was accused), and my own faith in God. I hit a patch in my life where I didn’t understand God’s plan for me. I was angry at the church’s stance on abortion, gay marriage, and even divorce.

These are issues I have been struggling with for a couple years now. I, like many, started confusing God with politics. I started hating God because of the politics others were telling me were his. So maybe hearing you speak was part of God’s plan.

I have gone to countless speakers at American. I have heard hundreds of people speak on countless issues. I have always tried to steer clear of religious speeches, for fear that it would always turn into a lecture, and convinced that my political views outshined my religious ones. Again, there comes my stubborn and skeptical side. Up until this year college has represented my lack of faith in God. Maybe it was my pigheadedness that fueled this. Maybe I could have come to terms with my faith sooner had I got to more religious events. There are so many maybes and what ifs.

I went into hearing you speak skeptical and ready to leave as soon as I got enough meat to write my short four page paper. I needed just enough to understand your side, argue against it, and get my grade. But the longer you went on, the more I agreed with you. I began to realize I was one of those people who confused religion with politics, only in my case I did the opposite. I confused the political views of my religion with God. My solution was cutting God out completely, instead of separating the two.

I left the Kay Spiritual Life Center feeling inspired and invigorated. My faith began to make sense. I began to make sense of all these feeling I had pent up inside. I was able for the first time in a long time realize that I could still love God and disagree with the political stance the church took. There was a way to distinguish the two.

Since then I have prayed everyday. I have prayed that others can come to this realization. I pray that one day God will not be synonymous with the republican party. Maybe this stint of skepticism was part of God’s plan, maybe my faith needed to be tested. Whatever his plan was, thank you. Thank you for helping me renew my faith.

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