(NY Times On Religion) A Profile of the Remarkable Faith Journey of Dr. James Marion

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From that first Sunday at St. Bartholomew’s [Episcopal Church] in February 2003, Dr. Marion never goes a week without attending worship. He tithes. He becomes a warden and a member of the vestry.

In the spring of 2003, he stumbles onto a poem titled “The Only Animal,” by Franz Wright. It is a poem, like many of Mr. Wright’s, about the interplay of faith and doubt. “You gave me in secret one thing to perceive, the tall blue starry strangeness of being here at all,” one passage goes. “You gave us each in secret something to perceive.”

Dr. Marion immerses himself in Mr. Wright’s work. In 2006, when he discovers a new poem, “The Hawk,” he feels it has the qualities of a biblical psalm, and he becomes fixated on the idea of setting it to music, something liturgical. Dr. Marion wonders if it is too late for him to learn composition, though his musical training ended with a med school production of “Guys and Dolls....”

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