Zora Hurston on Religion, Seeking Truth

African-American writer, Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960), wrote about her long struggles with religious faith.  I sense kinship with some of her wise and honest words.  In her memoir, Dust Tracks on a Road (1942) she writes:

“You wouldn’t think that a person who was born with God in the house would ever have any questions to ask on the subject.”

“As I grew, the questions went to sleep in me.  I just said the words, made the motions and went on.  My father being a preacher, and my mother superintendent of the Sunday School, I naturally was always having to do with religious ceremonies.”

“The thing slept on in me until my college years without any real decision.  I made the necessary motions and forgot to think.  But when I studied both history and philosophy, the struggle began again.”

After studying the history of religions she began to emerge into the brighter light of reason:

“I went to thinking and questing again.  I have achieved a certain peace within myself, but perhaps the seeking after the inner heart of truth will never cease in me.”

Finally, these lines on God, prayer and creeds:

“The unreachable and therefore the unknowable always seem divine–hence, religion.  People need religion because the great masses fear life and its consequences … it gives them a feeling of security.”

“I do not pretend to read God’s mind.  If He has a plan of the Universe worked out to the smallest detail, it would be folly for me to presume to get down on my knees and attempt to revise it.  That, to me, seems the highest form of sacrilege.  So I do not pray.”

“It seems to me that organized creeds are collections of words around a wish.  I feel no need for such.  However, I would not, by word or deed, attempt to deprive another of the consolation it affords.  It is simply not for me.”

Refreshing honesty, clear, without anger or bitterness.

Seeking after the inner heart of truth.

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