5 year-old asks best-selling writer/agnostic/mom to take him to church, “To see if God’s there.”

Mary Karr was known mainly as a poet until her coming-of-age memoir, “The Liars’ Club,” became a bestseller in the 1990s. It was the vivid story of a sometimes hilarious but often brutal Texas childhood.

Karr grew up amid the hardscrabble oil fields of East Texas. Her father drank himself to death. Her mother was married seven times.

The road to faith was a long, hard climb for someone who once described herself as an “undiluted agnostic.” By her mid-thirties Karr’s life had begun to unravel. Her marriage was failing. She drank heavily, wrecked the family car, was hospitalized for an emotional breakdown. In desperation, she took a friend’s advice and reluctantly began to pray.

Karr says she still equated most organized religions with something people just did socially. Then one day she passed a Catholic church in Syracuse, New York, where she was teaching. She was struck by a banner out front. It said, “Sinners Welcome.”

I thought I had a better shot at becoming a pole dancer at 40, right, than of making it in the Catholic Church, and I think what struck me really wasn’t the grandeur of the Mass. It was the simple faith of the people. For me this whole journey was a journey into awe. I would just get these moments of quiet where there wasn’t anything. My head would just shut up, and I knew that was a good thing. And also the carnality of the church: there was a body on the cross.”

Read and/or watch the interview

Extended interview on prayer/piety/rationalism