'What Remains When Disbelief Has Gone?'

My essay “What Remains When Disbelief Has Gone?” was published in the Fall 2016 edition of “Sunstone” (Issue #182), which is not available online but is available for purchase at

In Philip Larkin's poem “Churchgoing,” a bicyclist who has moved beyond the religion of his upbringing stumbles upon an empty church one weekday. Some- thing about the old building makes him stop, step inside, and wonder—in the most reverent sense of the word— what will become of this building once, as he presumes, religious belief becomes widely obsolete.

I like the thought experiment, but I like even more how Larkin twists it. Rather than asking what happens when belief slips away, he says:

Superstition, like belief, must die.

And what remains when disbelief has gone?

That question pierces me more than any other part of the poem because it encapsulates the main question I have been asking for the past decade or so. Though I have moved somewhat away from the religious framework of my childhood, I find myself remaining in the LDS Church, and I wonder what stage of faith will follow disbelief.

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