As the countdown begins to the April 5th release of A None’s Story, I want to share some tidbits that inspired me along the way.
I ran across this quote on the first pages of an old academic book on Christianity I found in the college library. This was in the early days of my quest. I had no idea who the man who said it was, but the synchronicity of his words with my project made me do a double take. The sentiment (exploring religions) was similar to my intention, but it was his use of the words “one” and “none” in close proximity that made what I was doing feel like a reply to his long-ago statement–an echo a century in the making.
Intrigued, I found out more about him.
Max Müller (1823 – 1900) was a German-born scholar credited with popularizing the study of comparative religion in the West. A practicing Christian, he studied the ancient language of Sanskrit to read and translate ancient Vedic texts, which are believed to be the earliest known religious documents. His research led to explorations of Hinduism and other world religions past and present and eventually to an Oxford teaching post where he taught comparative “philology.”
His official resume is impressive, but what I have found most encouraging about Mr. Müller’s example is just a side note: he was thoroughly criticized for his efforts. Some called his unwillingness to disavow other belief systems besides Christianity anti-Christian; not only did he not disavow them, he went on teach their fundamentals to the best of his ability. Others hated him for the opposite reason: their faiths were being manhandled by this ham-fisted outsider.
It’s safe to say Müller regularly received a thorough pummeling from all sides. And it is this small detail, all these years later, in which I find the most comfort. Because I’m sure some of those lashings had to sting—I can only imagine he thought what he was doing was positive, that he believed his efforts might contribute to a greater understanding among people and it had to be painful to get a solid smack down at every turn. But he picked himself up and carried on. He stepped on toes and no doubt made a buffoon of himself from time to time, but the internal spark that drove him to do what he did, captured in that simple quote, spoke to me at the start of this project and speaks to me still.