If we think of religion as whatever it is we bet our life on, then it isn’t a question of whether we will be religious, but only if our religion will be kind or cruel, scientific or magical.

I determined long ago that I was only interested in a religion that was true for all people and for all times. Of course every religion has particularities, but I was no longer interested in a God who loved some but not others, or a truth that worked in one place but not another. In other words, if I was going to bet my life on something, it needed to be both fundamental and universal.

I also determined not to be a skeptic. It became clear that when I waited on the sidelines for the smoke to clear while I gained absolute clarity, the battle was always over before I found courage to act. Still, I resolved not to make my fundamental decisions out of guilt or shame or because I wanted something to be true.

These determinations have acted like a filter or talisman. I still had selfish and foolish moments, but I intuitively knew not to lose awareness by repeating words over and over. I intuitively knew not to ever surrender responsibility to the church or state for how I would treat my fellow human beings. If religion is whatever we bet our life on, there is no easy or safe path. Still,we cannot go as far wrong if we hold the talisman to serve only that which is fundamentally true and universally helpful.