Thursday, December 1, 2011

Crisis of Faith, Christmas Style

I’ve been having a sort of crisis of faith for a while now. Long story short, I grew up going to church (with my aunt- my parents never went, which makes it super funny when my mom starts nagging me about taking the kids to church, claiming, “You always went to church!” and accusing me of being disrespectful to her non-churchgoing ass. Good times.) Anyway, the point is, I miss the community of church, I miss the fellowship, I miss the spirituality, and I want to find a church where I feel at home. Growing up, I had that – I made friends and performed in pageants and sang in the choir and gave the children’s sermon.

Then, when I was on my own in the city, I found a new church that was even better – welcoming and friendly and community & service oriented. But when I moved back to small town USA, I ended up back in the church I grew up in. And over the years the congregation started to wane, growing older, until no kids’ services were available anymore. No nursery or Sunday school or junior church. And suddenly, going to church with kids wasn’t easy anymore. Eventually I stopped.

And as much as I want to find a place like that again, I find it hard to get past the fact that churches are so often the least Christian places around. Haven’t seen that side of it? Try walking into a new church in a small town. And good luck finding a seat that Marjorie So and So hasn’t been sitting in for 40 years.

I hate that a place that represents all that is good and loving and welcoming is often the place we are most judged. Judged for what we are wearing or how much we give or if our kids can sit still. And instead of telling me I’m welcome in their house of worship, I find that they would rather tell me other things.

They want to tell me who to vote for.

They want to tell me what to do with my body.

They want to tell my friends they are an abomination and don’t deserve rights.

They want to tell me that science is wrong.

They want to tell me all the reasons why their way is the only way.

And the more they want to tell me what to do, the more I want to do the opposite.

Now that it is the Christmas season, it will only get worse. This is the time of year when , many people (churchgoers and not) decide to start singing their annual “Keep Christ in Christmas” jingle far and wide. And I agree – I do. Despite the fact that most of the traditions of Christmas began as pagan rituals, the point of Christmas is a Christian one – the birth of Jesus. So without Christ, you have no Christmas.

And I agree that we go overboard with political correctness, calling them Holiday trees instead of Christmas trees and the like. But that’s where my opinions and those of a lot of other folks differ. So many take it further – this is a Christian country, they say. If you don’t like it, you can leave, they cry. Pretty soon, Christianity = patriotism and anyone who doesn’t agree is a communist America-hater, terrorist sympathizer. And it’s all because Jesus isn’t allowed in the schools anymore! GOD BLESS AMERICA!

And then I – and all the people out there like me, who feel the same way – go running screaming in the other direction, away from the thing I just moments ago was longing for! I find myself arguing the opposite side of what I believe, playing devil’s advocate (Devil! One Nation UNDER GOD!), when I don’t even want to!

It’s funny how the only thing that seems to be standing between me and religion is religion.

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3 comments:

bluzdude said...

No one needs Church to find God. One only needs to look inside.

Magpie said...

I'm totally an atheist, a heathen pagan unwashed atheist. But even I know that there are churches out there that would, could, give you what you want. I have a good friend who's an Episcopal priest: a fat, gay, lefty-commie-pinko priest. He never tells anyone what they should think or who they should vote for. And I know he's not the only one.

AmyLK said...

There has to be a place where you can go to find the religious, community spirit you are looking for. It may take some seeking but if its meant to be, you'll find it.
Church and state should be kept separate.