After getting off to a tentative start, he was making his way quite well. And learning a few things about the rest of the world:
There is hope for the world.
And he was diving into his new challenge: understanding the secular psyche. For example, what exactly was driving the activism he was seeing among irreligious people?
"For me, if I didn't believe in God, it seems that the natural conclusion is to live life as selfishly as possible," he said. "If I wasn't religious, I can certainly see living my life quite differently."
He also felt himself opening up a bit on the subject of homosexuality. He'd gone to the dialogue and also had been assigned a book condemning anti-gay discrimination for a class on civics. Even before coming to Maryland, he'd wrestled with the idea that God sends people to Hell, but now he felt even less comfortable judging who.
"You put more faces to [a subject], and it makes a little bit of difference, and you understand it from their point of view more," he said. "If Jesus was here today, he would hang around with the gay community; these guys are shunned...""Now I feel that I'm very entrenched in my faith, my view of God. But when it comes to other things, like gay marriage or any number of things, I'm not deeply entrenched in them," he said.
"I feel like I'm different, but I don't feel alienated. And that's not a bad place to be."