In Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s memoir Colored People, how and why did Gates's hospitalization affect his spirituality?
In Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s memoir titled Colored People, part of young Gates's religious awakening happened soon after he became a member of the Methodist Church, which happened soon after he blamed himself for his mother's hospitalization due to a breakdown and sought atonement. He soon came to realize that one of the main reasons why he was a religious person was because he was "scared, scared of Jesus coming back to earth and sending me to Hell ... scared of what was happening to my mother--scared, in all likelihood, of life itself" (137). Therefore, later on, during his own hospitalization, he became very grateful and relieved to learn about a way out of his fears.
Later, Gates became hospitalized himself when a minor neglected injury from playing touch football at the church summer camp turned into a major catastrophe requiring multiple operations and a great deal of painful work to exercise his atrophied muscles. During his prolonged hospital stay, he met an Episcopal priest named Father Smith who gave Gates a new religious revelation and a way out of his fears. Father Smith proclaimed to him that he could "drink, smoke, curse, and still be a good Episcopalian. [He] could even date girls" (144). In Gates's mind, becoming Episcopalian rather than Methodist was a way out religious imprisonment, a way to still be a religious person without being imprisoned by fears of Hell. Hence, it was while talking with Father Smith in the hospital that he figured out a way to still cater to his desires of being a spiritual person without also having to live in fear.