This American (after) Life

After thinking that I wasn’t going to be able to do so, I re-arranged my schedule a bit on Saturday morning to catch the local airing of the first story I got produced by “This American Life”.

Because I didn’t edit it or work on it myself, I didn’t have any idea of how the story would turn out so I’d be listening to how it all came together just like everyone else would. Perfectionist that I am, the very first thing I noticed is that I have a tendency to mumble, and I wonder if that’s a result of growing up with a speech impediment that has never completely gone away. At least I know how to read out loud and give a passage some decent inflection.

I’ve listened to it maybe two or three times since then, and what I really enjoyed about how it turned out is how fair it is to both myself and Kris and how respectful it is to each of our positions. Because I’m the one who brought to story to the TAL producers, the listener gets to hear mostly my interpretation of how the conversations went, but that was to be expected.

One of the perhaps unintended consequences of choosing the degeneration of my faith in God as my first story pitch is that more people want to talk to me about God. I’ve told two strangers so far (one forwarded to me from Kris, the other is someone who did some sleuthing and found my Gmail address) that I don’t mind listening to how they feel about God, just as long as we treat each other with the same kind of respect that Kris and I shared during our conversations.

And speaking of Kris, after thanking him for participating in the interview, he and I are going to remain in contact because even though at the end of the story we didn’t see eye to eye on God, I can’t think of any good reason to discontinue having a productive discussion about the nature of faith.

However, the part that’s the most gratifying is that Kelly’s best friend listened to the show and told me some particulars about her case which helped me to see that it was actually a good thing that my prayers didn’t get answered back then.

At least that’s one mental barrier down.

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24 Responses to “This American (after) Life”

  1. A. Says:

    Hi Trisha,

    I just finished listening to your story on TAL and I was so moved. I’m thankful for the internet and this chance to share my response with you. I have been struggling with my faith since I lost my mother to cancer when I was 6 years old. I did not have any experience with church or any religious organization and by the time I was old enough to begin to process this experience, I had decided that I was comfortable with the idea that death just happens without my ever knowing “why”. In my adult life, this problem of human suffering has become interesting to me again, both personally and academically (I am a student of psychology). And while my career is built around empirical research, my personal capacity for faith has also matured by this question. Needless to say, I have never stopped thinking about my mother and the metaphor of her life and death. I have come across two very important pieces of literature that have helped me better understand this experience. The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis, which you might be familiar with. And oddly enough, I actually stumbled upon a beautiful discourse on this subject when reading the famous letter written by Oscar Wilde to Lord Alfred Douglas from prison. This letter is 100 pages and it mostly addresses the personal matters between Wilde and Douglas, but near the end of this letter, Wilde writes very beautifully about Jesus Christ as a Poet and his life as the ultimate Poem. I urge you to find this letter and read it carefully. Wilde writes about the symbolic importance of human suffering and how this suffering brings us closer to God. As a prisoner, Wilde identifies with Christ on many levels and shows how we have the unique ability to cultivate our human experience of suffering to get to a place of higher understanding. In all of my years of searching and hoping for the perfect explanation or conversation, this has been one of the most enlightening things I have ever read. I hope you enjoy it. Many blessings to you on your journey.

  2. Scott Says:

    Well Trisha, I think I was touched about your story in the same way you were touched by the coaches. While I am a faithful Christian, served a mission to foreign countries for nearly 2 years, and “teach Sunday School” I do believe God has answers for ALL of your questions, as you asked them on the show, I was answering them, and I believe that the answers were not the “side stepping” ones you received, and by no means argumentative, I have learned that no one learns that way. I can tell you answers and show you ways of knowing the truth yourself. That is the most important part, knowing for yourself. You no longer have to believe on others words, they (the words/truth) become a part of you. I would be honored if you wrote to me. I promise it will not be like the conversation you had before. Those burning questions truly have burning answers, and it is wonderful to hear them at last!!!!

    Thank you for your time in reading this.

  3. Jim Says:

    Hi Trisha,

    Great segment on NPR. To me it sounded like Kris was being kept awake at night trying to reconcile how such a good caring person such as yourself, who admired his work, could be a non-believer. I am disturbed by his conceit to put his personal struggle with this into the voice of an almighty god.

    I feel for your loss. I’m sorry it happened. A wise person told me that the amazing thing about our suffering is that it opens a window to see and relate directly to the suffering of others. This is a choice that we can make when we hurt. This is what I believe – but only because I’ve had occasion to test it.

    • Trisha Lynn Says:

      Jim: Thanks for your words.

      A wise person told me that the amazing thing about our suffering is that it opens a window to see and relate directly to the suffering of others. This is a choice that we can make when we hurt.

      Wow, that is very wise. Mind if I keep that one?

      • Jim Says:

        Ah, actually there is a charge to “keep” that one. You have to pass it along when you find someone who needs it. ( :^]” Great blog.

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