11/18/09 Eric, about 35
I stopped Eric, a "Yuppie" type on a sidewalk in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood by asking if he believes in a higher power. "Actually, no, I don't" he said, and told me that he isn't sure why or when it happened, but he just sort of drifted away from his Catholic upbringing and belief in God. "My parents were just going through the motions anyway" he said. I told him that I am a Christian and am intrigued how people go through life without faith in God or hope for the future. He gave an honest, though vague answer, saying its not that hard, he just focuses on the present, and doesn't want to live like his religious friends who seem like they are working for God's approval. I agreed, and told him that most people know they aren't perfect, so the question is always whether they are being "good enough". Eric thought that if there really is a judgment day, then God would say he is a good person because he is generally good on his own without the motivation of reward or punishment. He was very confident of his own goodness so I gave him the "good person test" which personalizes the Ten Commandments. Toward the end Eric realized his guilt and I could see signs of discomfort as he swallowed hard, fidgeted, and tried to maintain his positive demeanor. He agreed he would deserve God's punishment, but when I asked if this was a concern he reminded me that he didn't believe in God. I could see he wasn't ready for the good news just yet. Pray that he will realize that his denial of God's existence won't excuse him from God's judgment.