Sunday, December 18, 2011

I Really Do Like My Church

I know that it may be strange hearing this coming from me, but I thought it was time I made such a statement While I know that not everyone who comes here is a "post-evangelical," for those who are, I do respect the variety of ways you have come to terms with it.

I know a couple who just simply don't darken the doors of any organized church anymore, and I respect that.  I know where you are coming from and I came close to choosing that path. I also know that 99.9% of evangelicals would scream how un-biblical it is to not go to church. But I believe that has nothing to do with the Bible, but much more to do with the centuries that the various church organizations have used guilt as a tool of social coercion to force people to go to church, organized church that is.  What the Bible simply says is that it is not good to be a Christian and to be alone.  It is good to meet with other Christians.  That could be in a bar. For me, my best church has happened in a coffee shop.

I also respect the choice that some of my good Evangelical friends have made, like David, one of my best friends from my Navigator days, to join a old church ( meaning Catholic or Orthodox). I could easily have seen myself joining an Orthodox church if one was in town.

But a year and half ago, I joined the big, old Presbyterian church. It is in a smaller version of a cathedral and no that isn't it pictured.  I wrote very candidly about the process of making the switch. It was very, very ugly.  The pastor of my old Evangelical church was mad as hell about it, but he puts on the front that he only opposed me leaving his church because he sees it as me leaving God.  He came to my  house and chewed my ass out like it had never been chewed . . . in a very long time. I still have bite marks on my buttocks.

So with that said, I am SOOOOOOOOoooooooo happy I made the switch.  I enjoy going to church service on Sunday mornings, the first time in a decade or more.  I love sitting in the brick cathedral (I know that Protestant churches aren't "cathedrals") and listening to the pipe organ. But the thing I like the most is the space.  The geographic space inside the church is one thing. I mean, if you wanted you could have a pew to yourself even though two hundred people were there.

But what I really mean is the spiritual, intellectual and emotional space.  In my Evangelical churches, I was constantly being told what to do, what to think and how to act . . . to be a good Christian.  Not so here. When I met with the pastor, before I joined, I asked her about this freedom.  This church is theologically conservative, however, she pointed out that there is a complete rainbow of people who come.

There are probably (I don't know of any but they certainly would feel comfortable) open gays who attend.  There were plenty of cars with Obama stickers on the bumper.  On the other side, I have met a couple of people who are extreme right-fundamentalist types. One I felt sure was an escapee from a mental institution.   He made Jerry Falwell look like a New Ager.

But I have freedom to think. I can raise questions, as I do here, and find that others have raised the same questions. I couldn't imagine an entire Sunday school class, like in my old church, suggesting that I wasn't even a Christian because I believed that the earth was very, very old.

But I will let it rest here.  I just wanted to point out, as critical as I often am, how much I enjoy my church. I must end because I'm late for the 11 AM service.


Anna A said...

I'm glad that you have found a home. I'm sorry that it is hurting you and your wife.

May you have a good Christmas season.

jmj said...

Thanks for the merry Christmas. When you consider that our church situation is our only major struggle right now, it isn't too bad.

Jaimie said...

One of the most disgusting things about organized religion is that it can create rifts between people. Whether it's hate or fear disguised as love.

Anna A said...


While religion can cause rifts, it can also prevent them. As a Catholic, I can worship with any other Catholic, no matter what their background is. One of the shocks that I had when I returned to the Midwest after becoming Catholic in Southern California, was how mono-tone the people were.

I recently read "Shutting Out the Sun,How Japan Created its Own Lost Generation" by Michael Zielenziger. He is a secular journalist and made the interesting comment that Christianity helps build trust between relative strangers. I find that idea to be interestingly thought provocative.

PRS & ALS said...

I just want to say, I so appreciate your candor in all that you write. It is refreshing and encouraging. It gives hope to many to realize that they aren't alone.