8/27/10 Neal, 22 and Mike, about 35
Outside the Sox-Yankees game tonight I went up to the smoking area outside the stadium which is surrounded by a low fence, making it easy to talk to people with a little spare time on their hands. I asked two smokers who seemed like they knew each other, Neal and Mike, if I could ask an interesting question. "What do you think happens after this life? What comes next?" "You mean after we die?" Neal asked and said "I'm going to heaven of course!" "So you believe in God?" I asked. "Of course i believe in God! Don't you?" he asked with well-meaning enthusiasm. I turned to Mike. "How about you?" and he answered "I think I've lived another life before this one." He said he thinks we are reincarnated after we die and went on to tell how he had grown up Catholic but lost his faith when his kids started asking questions he couldn't answer, citing the rule against women in the priesthood, the priest/child abuse scandals, and "the many wars that have happened because of religion." I asked Neal what he would say to Mike to help him know how he could go to heaven. "You need to admit your mistakes, and go to confession, and do whatever penance they give you" As we talked further Mike respectfully bowed out of the conversation. Neal's general belief was that "we are supposed to be sorry and God is supposed to forgive" and he truly believes he is a good enough person to deserve that forgiveness. He doesn't read the Bible or see any reason why he should. His attitude was very positive and open, but as he was about to go back to the game and I asked if I could give him something to read about this, he suddenly seemed negative and defensive and turned to go.