There is one great tendency that has stood out for me over the years of my pilgrimage as a transplanted Midwesterner and adopted Bostonian. It is this northeastern fear of things related to faith and religion. I have been trying for years to nail down the origins of this quintessential New England trait, and it stumps me what to make of it.
Of course, Boston Pilgrim Tours exists to alleviate this unnatural pathology in all of its various forms. We are doing well as a city with a plethora of tours dedicated to culture, history, and even architecture. But we stop short when it comes to belief. I have been on many a tour of churches, mosques, or synagogues in which the house of worship is treated as a kind of museum piece to be dusted off and admired purely for its historical place. Never a hint of living, breathing faith. Those on the tour who might be aware of a particular denomination along with its proclivities of practice and confession share their knowledge to the group almost apologetically, as a private fetish of which they ought to be ashamed or at least not overindulgent. Continue reading →