On a period of questioning and doubt:
“I definitely went through a period when I thought I would make the experiment of unbelief, and it lasted several months, and it felt so wrong. It was as if the ceiling of the universe had come down, so that it was just over my head. By attempting not to think in religious terms, the validity of religious terms came rushing back, and from that point on I dreaded the idea of the contracted universe.”
On what writing is:
She describes the act of writing in ways in which others might describe the act of faith, “a continuous attempt to make inroads on the vast terrain of what cannot be said. . . I seem to know, by intuition, a great deal that I cannot find words for.”
On what writing does for us:
“I have met a good number of people who have written several books that were never published, and, in many cases, those have been the most important experiences of their lives, because the thing about writing is that you find out more about your mind, in a sense, than you would find out by any other means.
“You find out where your imagination lives, and what your favourite words are, and what kinds of things have an emotional charge that you would not anticipate they would have. You find out that you have an incredible store of memory that you would not otherwise access. And so you have the feeling of being a much larger life, in a way, than you would have known you were if you had not written.”
On pastors and their understanding of their role:
“There’s something shy and apologetic about their role, and this makes other people shy and apologetic, and sort of weakens the core of things. It seems to me that, as much as anything, it is the clergy’s loss of confidence in the meaningfulness of their role, relative to a congregation, that undermines them.
“I’m not saying they need to be assertive, or dominant, but that, when they baptise someone, they have to believe that they have done something important; when they preach, they have to feel that they are living up to the definition of the sermon.”