Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I went to Church on Sunday

Primarily because my children were involved in a program, I needed to get out of the house, and it was a lovely Sunday Father’s Day.

I am always curious as to what my own reaction will be. At one time, I was desperate for answers. I looked forward to church, simply to interact with people with questions I was having. Inevitably, I left with more frustration, as the answers given were so standard fair. Nothing I hadn’t thought of countless times before.

I reached a point where I became irritated at church. I wanted to ask questions, and knew that those about me were not interested in those questions. They wanted the standard response that with a God everything will be all right, and all one has to do is believe, and just have faith. So I became completely silent in church. That was not good either.

I went through a stage of detached interest. Where I would listen for a bit, scream inside my head at the simplicity of the information, tune out, and through boredom, re-tune back in to see if anything had changed. It hadn’t.

I became resentful toward the church. Why couldn’t it address my questions? Why couldn’t I manage to have more than one conversation in a row with the same pastor/teacher/elder/deacon? It seemed that after just one “session” I was written off as too hard of a sell. Too hard of a package.

I became frustrated with the church. Here I was, anxious to be actively involved in some way, and they were turning me away! There was no place for me to fit. I could not teach, I would not be allowed to help; I could not attend anything remotely suited toward my interests. There was nothing for me to do, but be a lump in the pew and keep my mouth shut.

I haven’t attended a church since December or so. Therefore, I was curious as to what my reaction would be after six months.

After seeing the program, the singing started. Same songs I was familiar with. I looked inside. Was I angry? Nope. Was I frustrated? Nope. Was I interested, bored, anything? Nope, nope, nope. What I found, to my complete surprise, was that I wasn’t feeling anything at all.

I looked at the people about me and thought for a moment how odd it was to be so self-convinced of something that was totally made up in the human mind. But it was with a quick thought of “how odd” and nothing more.

The preaching started with the customary verse-reading, slide-presentation, same-old interpretation that the audience wanted to hear. I found I could listen and not tear my hair out because….I didn’t care.

I listened, reflected on what the pastor said, and didn’t resonate in any way. He may was well have been giving a lecture on interest-rate fluctuation.

I am very lucky to live in the age of the internet. Although I do not say it enough, I enjoy and appreciate the interaction with theists that take time to respond, and answer, and reflect with me. That interaction, I realize, has made me apathetic to attending church.

Oh, I miss the friends, the socialization, the camaraderie found in a church—sure! But what I am engaged in, the church is unprepared. It is here that I have found the theists that are my “church.”

So, to any theist that has responded with any degree of civility to me, both here and on the forums, I owe you a cup of coffee, or a beer, your preference.

It is this interaction that has kept my interest far more than 1000 sermons could ever do.

3 comments:

  1. Hi DagoodS,
    I have not been to church is about 5 years. Still not sure I've completely shaken my faith. Your story sounds familiar, I got alot of glazed over looks at church and just attributed it to lousy communication skills on my part. Then the world shrunk when on the internet I discovered people asking the same stuff. The one thing that I don't see discussed to often is that "sense?" of 'Gods presence.' I had that 'sense', briefly when I was a kid and the impact and memory of that was enough to keep me faithful and investigating for 35 years, mostly focused on christianity...I'm a slow learner apparently. Even still, I cannont quite call myself an atheist, I don't think I 'know' enought to say that (and of course there's the memory of that presence). I would treat you to a beer or coffee, heck, even go as far as lunch in appreciation for the time and effort you've made sharing yourself and thoughts....so ditto.
    paul

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  2. Hey, its interesting...your honesty. I agree with you that there are so many of us out here that have had that same church experience, but not many seem to talk about it openly. I wonder why God can seem silent for years...even 35 years (as Paul commented above)...and yet a single touch from God has such an impact that it influenced his entire life.

    I want to have the kind of relationship with God, where I experience that presence...not just once in a lifetime, but all the time. Is that asking too much of God?

    I went to church most of my life until I finally decided I didn't have time for it anymore. Then at a low point in my life, while driving my car...God touched me. I don't know why or how, but it has impacted my life. Now I chase after the presence of God.

    You might be interested to read about some of my experiences. I'm just a marketing guy for a software company...I think I'm a pretty 'normal' middle-aged guy. I'm not sure why God has chosen to touch me, but my feeling is that He is on the move!! God seems to be collecting honest seekers...revealing Himself to them in ways outside of normal expectation (at least that's what happened to me). I don't think we need another church on a corner someplace, but more experience of the power and wonder of a living God!

    www.xanga.com/god_stories

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  3. lbrother,

    I don't get here to often, so if you are still out there in blogland, perhaps you'll see this.

    As I said, "apparently I'm a slow learner." The problem I had to grapple with was not being able to substantiate that "sense" as being from an evangelical God. We are not alone in our sensing of the other (whatever it is). Most religions I've investigated have adherants who claim similar experience/feeling but attribute it to some other god or source. So, while I do not question the reality of that sense, I cannot honestly substantiate its' source, nor have I met anyone who can.

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