The great crisis of faith for me came—as it does for so many—when I was in college. I arrived at the University of Virginia in 2001 as a bored atheist. I neither believed in God nor particularly cared about religion. I was, however, a very enthusiastic pre-law student, certain that I would major in political science, attend a great law school, and presumably get rich suing people.

Two events early in college changed the course of my life. First, I accidentally took an ethics course in my freshman year. It was love at first argument. I took some more classes, and soon found out that other branches of philosophy were even more interesting. By my sophomore year, I had declared a second major in philosophy. After a particularly awful pre-law summer program, I switched to philosophy as my primary major. Then my academic advisor told me that if I really liked philosophy, I could go to graduate school and eventually make a living writing and teaching it. That settled it. I never looked back.

That was the first big decision; then came the second. While in college, I became Catholic. I went to church for the first time on the first anniversary of the September 11 attacks. I didn’t have much of an idea what a weekday Catholic Mass entailed, but there was a church near my dorm, and for some reason I had it in my head that since it was the anniversary of the attacks, they would do some kind of special memorial. I was feeling very down thinking about all of the senseless death at the World Trade Center, and I wanted to talk to someone with moral gravitas about it. Church seemed liked a place where this would happen.

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