The Marble Room: How I Lost God and Found Myself in Africa

by Bill Hatcher


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What comes after religion?

This question is at the root of how an increasingly self-aware humanity will struggle to define itself in the 21st century. William Hatcher’s memoir, The Marble Room, explores this question by taking readers on an archetypal adventure of self-discovery.

The author grew up in a racist, religiously supremacist milieu in rural America. Life was safe and predictable until his parents divorced when he was a young teen. Attempting to rewrite the end of his parents’ marriage and salvage his worldview, he married an evangelical woman, but that, too, ended in divorce.

Desperate to redefine truth, he left home to serve in the Peace Corps, teaching geography at an all-girls’ boarding school in Tanzania. His Bible Belt racism and religious beliefs crumbled as the challenges he faced escalated; glimpsing death on holy peaks, meeting “ancestor spirits” in sacred caves, and receiving the “leopard’s blessing” from elder shamans. One of his Muslim students became a close friend and confidante, and she encouraged him to consider God in different ways. Near the end of the story he finds peace in Pantheism, though an unexpected tragedy puts his new spirituality to a final test.