The Word Among Us

Lent 2020 Issue

A Painter with a Purpose

How atheism and I parted ways in prison.

By: John Jay Sheppard

A Painter with a Purpose: How atheism and I parted ways in prison. by John Jay Sheppard

I grew up surrounded by disorder, drugs, alcohol, and little discipline. That instability was compounded by bullying, abuse, isolation, bad mistakes on my part, and a variety of betrayals and losses beyond my control. All of this chaos spun inside of me like a tornado. In March 1991, I flew out of control and killed someone. I went to prison for life.

Up until that point, God had always been more myth than reality for me. The Bible seemed like a theatrical epic: nothing more than a...


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