I get some questions

Over on another post, a visitor left me a comment, asking my input. The entry with the comment is here: https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2014/07/27/answers-to-questions-for-theists/ but I will repeat the comment below for context and simplicity; any readers are obviously welcome to add their helpful input.

This is almost completely off topic, but I couldn’t find a place on your blog to send you a message, so I apologize in advance for making your comment section skewed. You mention several times that you and your wife have conversations on faith. I would dearly love some insight on these conversations, because I (the atheist) only found out my husband’s church was creationist AFTER he’d already been a few years attached to the congregation and my son came home one Sunday last year with a coloring sheet that had a dinosaur coming off of the ark. I seriously thought creationism was a punch line, to be laughed at like the flat-earthers we learned about in history. No one really believes those silly things, right? It’s okay to send the kids to sunday school. What could possibly go wrong? Ugh.

We now fight constantly about our young kids’ (4 and 14 months) exposure to religion. I want to compromise and try to find another church with him, one that is still engaging and exciting for him that won’t teach the kids creationism, but his only response is that I should “just come to church with him sometime.” (I went once. I didn’t like it.) Like I’m going to suddenly convert and not give two shits about what they’re teaching the kids?

He feels attacked, and I get that. I told him I like the people in his church and I’m not asking him to not be friends with them anymore, I just don’t like what they teach the kids. He hears none of it. Do you have any advice as a former YEC on what I can possibly say to him? Or what kind of nutty mediator would take on such a dispute? The whole situation is exhausting.

There is a lot here that strikes a chord with me and it has prompted me to reconsider a series of posts on the subject, an idea I abandoned because they were all personal to my own relationship and I was uncertain how open I wanted to be about it. These posts would all take time to write but I’ll certainly do something on the subject in coming months.

So, on with the points raised.

My wife and I do talk faith on occasion. Personally, I’d like us to interact on the subject more than we do, the difficulty is that I suck up regular podcasts and blogs on the interaction of faith and non-faith. The subject interests me greatly because as someone who has been on both sides, I understand well the arguments and intellectually I enjoy the discussion. My wife, on the other hand, is comfortable in her faith and having never been on the other side, doesn’t get my position at all.

What this means in practice is that when I start a conversation on faith (and it is normally me who starts it) I come in running, so to speak, having already considered both sides of the conversation and spring it on my unsuspecting wife. Having been caught off-guard like that, it is hardly surprising that that the conversations are rarely stimulating. The other disadvantage my wife has here is that I have an answer for pretty much everything she says, because I’ve already been there and considered it. She does not share my thirst for the challenge of this form of discussion and so she’s rarely prepared for what I will come up with. On more than one occasion she’s admitted to being intimidated by knowledge of the subject. That’s not because she’s unintelligent, she is both wise and clever. It’s simply a by-product of our mismatched passions.

We’re still working out how to have these conversations in a fruitful and productive manor, because it isn’t easy. When she’s simply not in the mood to have the conversation, it becomes painfully obvious very quickly and my only option there is to stop. There simply is no point having the discussion when the other partner just isn’t in the mood.

I get where you are from in terms of what is being taught to the children. I’m at an advantage in that my wife would not accept creationism, she never did. Therefore, if someone in the church taught our daughter anything creationist, she would back me up when I inevitably object. Beyond that though, I do struggle with the idea that we each get to give her our own worldview and our daughter should be free to make her own choice. It may sound like an honourable thing on paper, but I don’t consider fables a worthy alternative to truth. I wouldn’t let a doctor treat my daughter with any form of homeopathic remedy, so why should I tolerate her being told the philosophical equivalent each Sunday?

It’s a difficult challenge and I’ve had to learn to step away from that one for the moment because it’s more important that my daughter has parents that are not fighting. It isn’t always easy.

Specifically on the exposure of kids to creationism, I’d suggest in this instance to try to introduce scientific literature into life as early as possible to counteract. Using cience topis that are in the news is a good way, it doesn’t have to be something that specific challenges creationism. The current project to make the first landing on a comet is a good example. It needs to be done in an open an honest way so as not to be seen as to be undermining the other parent. One thing my wife has brought up is that on matters of science I get to be the parent who answers the questions because it’s my passion and the limey daughter seems equally inspired and so we talk science together a lot. The flip side is that Mrs limey then says that it should be natural that for matters of religion, she should get the say. We’re still working that out because I think I should get a say on religion too because that conversation is something I have valid input on. If passion is the criteria, it’s also a subject I am passionate about. Just because I don’t go to church, doesn’t mean I’m not informed about what goes on.

There is a very real danger in situations like this that each parent suspects the other of trying to pull the child to their side of the fence. Openness is the key if there is any mistrust on issues of faith then it will undermine the marriage.

On conversations specifically.

Conversations can be difficult.

I’ve made the mistake of calling religion bunk. It didn’t go down well and wasn’t especially wise. It’s not easy for my wife to be married to a man who once shared her faith and now looks down on it. For a very long time she struggled with the notion that I was secretly considering myself superior to her and that she was stupid for still believing. That wasn’t true, and still isn’t, however, I didn’t do anything to dispel that misunderstanding and so it’s hardly surprising there was an uncomfortable atmosphere for some time.

In a relationship like this, it is very difficult for the Christian partner to not feel attacked every time religion (or even the church) is criticised. For them, the church and their religion are part of who they are and to criticise one is to attack them. It is a separation and distinction that is almost impossible for them to make. I should have known this because I was there once, but it is still something that I struggle to comprehend. I don’t know what all the answers are.

The questions above, are serious because they come from the heart and here I feel that I have not given them enough of an answer. Hopefully in further postings I’ll be able to address some specific elements on a personal perspective. As can be seen though, this is still an area where I am learning too. I am sure there are many others who are learning this unexpected road too.

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Interview an Atheist at Church

Recently I became aware of a thing called ‘Interview an Atheist at church’ (http://interviewatheists.wordpress.com/about/). I hesitate to call it a campaign because I don’t see the kind of support and momentum that I would expect from a campaign. It is an interesting idea though, one that I think warrants support and wider publicity.

From I can tell it was originally hoped that it should be a specific day in the year. Though comments seem to imply that when it’s happened it’s been on whatever day is convenient for the parties involved.

This is something I would support. I’ve been in enough churches over the years to know that very few Christians actually understand what drives and motivates atheists. Hearing one speak in Church under these conditions would help with that and may even prompt further questions which would mean having a dialog with an atheist. Something precious few Christians have done in any meaningful way.

I don’t think a specific day is necessarily the best way to go about this, due to personal commitments or Church calendars. Though it is, in all probability, the best way to get it publicised wider. Personally, I would accept any invitation to take part in something like this.

Would I have been so supportive in my Christian years? That is highly unlikely. The objection that I see is that the front of the church is for teaching and for the work of the church. This sort of activity would bend the church to the will of atheists and that would be seen as a bad thing. Also, increased dialog with atheists means that wavering Christians are more likely to take on board what they say and could turn away from faith. An outcome that my old Christian self would have seen as unacceptable this reason on its own would be enough to kill the idea.

Now I’m on the other side of the fence, I think it is important for the Christians who see atheists as morally deficient, illogical brutes, to actually have a positive engagement because it is when those Christians get vocal that the most damage is done. If something like this can stop that sort of lie, then that’s a result and that would be my motivation for supporting this.

But what about conversion?

This I think is the big underlying issue. The Christians would likely think that the atheist wants to convert someone. This comes from the basic idea that all Christians constantly receive in sermons and bible studies; basically all conversations with the unsaved should be seen as a stepping stone and opportunity for that person to get a glimpse of God and eventually lead to their conversion and salvation. With this in mind, it’s hardly surprising that the Christian will think that the visiting atheist is thinking the same thing. The honest atheist will admit that to see someone shed their faith would be an exciting bonus. It’s this clash, or potential clash, of belief that seems to be the biggest challenge here. An undercurrent of mistrust is highly possible.

For something like this to work, any mistrust should be addressed first and the focus should be on conversation and acceptance. That would require more than just a one off event where a church pastor gets an interesting atheist for a brief chin wag. To properly dispel myths and establish greater respect and dialog requires more commitment than that.

In the back of my mind I still can’t shake the feeling that most Christians would see this as an opportunity to convert another sinner and the atheist would become a project. Maybe it’s because I know how Christians think and I’m jaded by that and its stopping me from seeing the wider opportunity.

Maybe it’s me who needs to have some myths exploded! 🙂

 

Daddy, why don’t you come to church anymore?

I knew the question would come eventually. I have been kidding myself for ages that my daughter would accept the status quo and not question it until she was an argumentative teen. At that point we could discuss the issue properly. I don’t desire having a deep conversation with a pre-teen about how god is a lost concept and the combination of science and logic have reduced the chances of his existence to little more than highly improbable.

To be honest I have been afraid of this question. Afraid because I simply did not know how she would respond to the only answer I could give. That is, “Daddy doesn’t believe in god any more darling.”. I have pondered on what lies I could tell to divert the issue, but one thing that the limey daughter is good at (along with pretty much all children her age) is perpetually asking “why” until she gets the answer she is seeking. So the fear of being caught trying to lie my way out of that one has been there too.

So here I am, thinking back on the conversation we had had yesterday and my current situation. I am still out of work, life at home is occasionally stressful, the worry about how much longer we can manage before things get really serious is present and looming larger. The depression that I mentioned at the start of the year (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/good-riddance-2013/) is still lingering in the background ready to swallow me up at the slightest hint of trouble. If there is one thing I desire to avoid, it is to add the fate of my eternal soul to the imagination of my daughter, there are other more pressing matters that we face daily.

Until the point she asked the question, it had been a great day. We found a way to purchase a cheap Kinect for our XBOX 360 to replace the one that broke a mere 2 months outside of its warranty. This is a purchase guaranteed to add pleasure to the household; it also served to clear the unused Wii and Wii Fit Board from my office as they went in part exchange. In addition, daughter and daddy were on their way to a ski centre to have a ski lesson and toboggan session at a bargain offer price. These things need grasping when there simply isn’t the freedom to spend money on days out.

So, after a few seconds of utter panic, not helpful when driving, I answered with the truth, that I no longer believe in god. She asked why I don’t believe. I knew that would be the next question, I panicked for longer and said that I don’t think it makes sense for there to be a god. I could have gone on about how I think the science of evolution makes the god hypothesis impossible. I could have explained how I used to believe in a literal creation. I could have said lots, but I wanted a short conversation because the subject of the limey daughter’s own beliefs is still a subject that Mr and Mrs limey are processing. Making our daughter the battleground for our conflicting worldviews is not somewhere either of us wants to go.

The limey daughter does get evolution though, science is something she has great interest in and recently she has been hovering up the Horrible Science series of books in the school library. These are her bedtime reading of choice. It is not unknown for her to come out of her bedroom and call me from the top of the stairs so that she can share a science fact she has just read. I can get cross with her she does that at a time when she is supposed to be settling down to sleep. I want to encourage excitement in nature and the workings of the world around us. If I use her thirst for scientific knowledge to explain how my faith was undermined, who knows what the result will be? If only I could tell the future.

Daughter accepted my explanation and the conversation moved on, we continued to talk about the upcoming ski lesson. We had a wonderful two hours together, getting very hot and tired. Afterwards we came home and enjoyed some more XBOX time, using the new Kinect of course, since mummy limey had and evening at work. All in it was a great day we had together, but I am wondering what she thinks of my non-belief and when she will raise it again. I fully expect her to and more than anything, I want it to be something that she feels she can raise. The worst result will be if it is seen as a taboo subject.

As I type this on Sunday morning, a time normally reserved for me to have my alone time at home, to write, or study or read or whatever, daughter is in the living room playing. She decided this morning that she didn’t want to go to church. Mrs limey thinks it is because she is still tired from yesterday, that’s possible, but I can’t help wonder if there is another reason.
So, the question I have been fearing came, yet the world didn’t end and life has not changed. If only all my fears could turn out to be so harmless.

First Time Back at Church for a Year

Recently I attended a Church service. I can’t remember when I last attended one but I am fairly sure it was about a year ago. It may have been a service over the Christmas period last year. I can’t recall for certain when the last service I actually attended was but a year seems about right.

The last time I attended I do recall having issues with worship. I didn’t like singing the songs that I know so well because of what they represent. Standing there not singing them made me feel conspicuous and uncomfortable. What I chose to do then was to sing quietly, I didn’t enjoy it and it framed much of my desire to stop attending church completely. My wife understood and agreed that she would rather I didn’t attend if it made me feel that way.

So when our pastor friend asked if I would take photos at an upcoming baptism service, I surprised myself by readily accepting the invitation.

Historically, baptism services have tended to be emotional services. They remind me of my own baptism as a youngster, the same age that my daughter is now as it happens. As a Christian, baptisms were a good reminder of the promises I made and served as a focus point. This service would hold none of that for me and I was interested to see how I would respond to this one. Of course the primary reason I was there was to record the moment of immersion of the two adults being baptised and as far as I was concerned, any personal misgivings would be second place.

As it happens the service brought up nothing for me at all. There were no negative emotions, no uncomfortable memories and no feelings of discomfort. I even found myself signing the songs, which I still know by heart, in a manner that I haven’t for a very long time. That is I sang them as enthusiastically as one can without actually entering into a spirit of worship. The singing desire just came and I went along with it, I deny any suggestion that I was actually worshiping though.

My wife led the service, which she does regularly at the church and I did realise one thing, I miss hearing her sing, it is probably the single biggest loss I feel about no longer attending church. Even as an atheist I recognise that she sings well and leads sensitively, she is good at it, gifted even. I don’t have to engage with the spiritual content to appreciate and enjoy the good voice at the front. Other than that realisation, the service passed without event for me, the two getting baptised said their pieces and I took my place to capture their moments.

Talking with my wife about it later in the day I expressed my thoughts as mentioned above, that joining in the singing came naturally, in return she expressed surprise that she saw me singing at all. I guess the break from church caused me to calm down somewhat and my reaction to worship is less harsh than it once was. I don’t really think there is much to unpack here, other than to recognise the continued evolution of my own thought processes.

I don’t think it means that I’ll be returning to attending church regularly, I think my attitude will harden again if I go too often. It is nice to know that I can now attend a service and sing heartily without the associated baggage I had last year. That in itself should be considered positive progress.

Childhood Conversations

There was one thing that happened on the day which touched on something that may well rear its head at a point in the future, though for now it is not an issue. That is of talking Christianity with our daughter. She and I travelled to church together because my wife had gone earlier to prepare for the service. Knowing it was a baptism service, my daughter asked questions about why someone would get baptised and what it means to be baptised. I answered truthfully from the Christian perspective and even told her I was her age when I made my decision to be baptised.

If I’m honest, I didn’t especially enjoy answering like that but my daughter deserved a truthful answer and I believe I gave her that. She didn’t lead on to ask me why I no longer attend church; I would have told her the truth if she had. If my daughter is going to ask questions of the Christian life then I should answer those questions without bias. She attends church each Sunday morning with my wife and she has a child’s acceptance of what goes on there. If I were to take every opportunity to push and counter with my own feelings I could cause upset, yet at the same time, I struggle with letting her continue to believe something that I utterly reject. I struggle with her being indoctrinated each week, yet I don’t want to cause upset by being the bad daddy that hates church, because at root that is not what I am.

For now it does not need to be made into an issue and I see no point in escalating it to that status. I accept that while I continue to live a life that is tightly bound to Christianity these things will always be there. For now I’ll celebrate the progress and not make an issue of things that don’t yet deserve it.

 

 

Its all gone to Shit

** warning, this post contains expletives **

I’ve blogged recently about some of the issues facing our current church. First there was (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2012/12/11/dark-clouds-looming/) and then there was (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2012/12/24/a-wonderful-positive-conclusion/).

Well, now there has been a breakaway group that has left the church and started holding Sunday afternoon meetings in another location; without the blessing of the parent church. Worse than that, the protagonists write secretly to people that they would hope to get support from and invited them to attend.

Quite frankly, I am incensed and thoroughly pissed off over it. It has caused hurt and upset in my household and also for my friend, the pastor.

One of the defecting couples is consists of a very immature wife and very easily led husband, the husband being the subject of the later part of this post (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2012/06/18/on-women-in-the-church/). It doesn’t help that the ring leader of this group is the staunch creationist responsible for this (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2012/04/05/creationism-on-my-doorstep/).

 

Righteous Anger

You know when you’re so angry that you can’t think about anything else and you really want to say something hurtful to the source of that anger? Well that was me most of last Sunday.

My chance came when the wife mentioned above put a Facebook comment about how good God was. My wife practically begged me not to do anything, saying she didn’t want or need me fighting her battles. For me it’s more than just that, there is an horrible injustice going on here and bitter people with an agenda are actively causing pain through selfish motives. It’s wrong and why can’t I call out bullshit when I see it?

So I fought my urges to unleash both barrels and simply asked if she was aware that people were hurting and where did she see god’s goodness in that? Quickly she came back with an apology for causing offense, said she was aware and was sad and simply wanted to point out that god was good.

Sad!

She’s fucking sad!!!!

Does the stupid thing and her cohorts know that’s it’s the direct result of their actions that have created this? Being sad doesn’t cut it. God didn’t create this situation and God isn’t fixing it. People did this, bitter, selfish, insipid people. People who profess faith and the love of god did this. Being sad is not fucking good enough.

So I fought back what I wanted to say and twenty minutes later came back to find her comment deleted. I hope she felt suitably chastised, though I suspect not guilty enough to do anything positive.

I’m still angry, but I feel a little better. I will also be more cautious about posting on this subject from now on as its an on-going situation. Update may have to wait until its over and the dust has settled.

A Wonderful Positive Conclusion

Not long ago I posted about some less than pleasant goings on among some members of the church (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2012/12/11/dark-clouds-looming/).

Well the mentioned church meeting has happened and it turns out it went very well. There were a couple of individuals who clearly still had issues and they are personal. That said, the efforts that the pastor had gone to to encourage conciliation and to stem gossip and anonymous disparaging had clearly paid off. It’s a shame that none of this was known before the meeting started.

One of the main turnaround points of the meeting was when a key protagonist admitted that he had been convicted of his wrong attitude and expressed a desire to move forward in a positive way.

Suffice to say, my wife came back from that meeting with none of the dread she had when she went to it.

If was refreshing to hear that a spiralling negative situation can be corrected. Its not perfect and it is a lot better, which is a great thing.

Something else that happened was a conversation my wife had with another church member. This particular member hasn’t got on with my wife since we started attending over a year ago. This member came up to my wife to address that and apologise. It was made clear that the problem wasn’t my wife but that this particular individual has an issue with what happens at the front of the church. She likes the preacher to be the person who leads the whole service, namely announces the hymns and says the prayers.

The new casual style that has become the norm since my wife got involved is difficult for this person. I think its good for this sort of thing to be admitted, it helps people like my wife to understand those she is leading in worship. These people need gently leading into new forms of worship. It’s a shame that what people are used to can become such a norm and so comfortable that it represents an importance that matches the key aspects of the religion they follow.

So, the church appears to have survived what could have been a devastating split. Its not plain sailing yet, but it does represent a major positive step and has shown to many people that difficulties can be overcome and change, while difficult, can be achieved.

Dark Clouds Looming

Since this post (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2012/11/09/theres-a-problem-in-front-of-the-pulpit/) there have been some troubling developments at our local church.

Being slightly out of the loop with my non-attendance, I don’t have a really clear picture of what’s going on. What appears to be happening though is that the older generation folks mentioned in the linked post above are gathering troops to possibly stage a rebellion. Sad.

The Pastor concerned, has made efforts at reconciliation, but there are some who simply will not take the proffered Olive Branch. He has even felt the need to preach about having an attitude of love and reconciliation from the pulpit.

On a personal level I find this whole situation strange because it wasn’t all that long ago I would have joined a similar group of dissatisfied church members in revolting against the pastor (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/02/16/there%E2%80%99s-a-problem-behind-the-pulpit/).

The difference of course is that the current problem features a pastor who has the needs of the church at his heart and is being as gracious as he can in a difficult situation. The previous situation featured a pastor who was driving his agenda in a way many saw as arrogant and didn’t really seem to care if people left the church as a result.

Differences aside, there is a bigger issue here which bothers me.

This all feels terribly unchristian. The more I think about what’s happening, the more I think “Where is the love and where do those who are unhappy think god is in this situation?”.

I can’t see how any of this can result in anything good and as a person who now no longer accepts god I find it all rather distasteful and really has put me off this church. Sad.

Whatever happens with this group of renegades, one thing is certain life for the church members will different. I only hope that those who remain afterwards have something left to build with.

I’m no longer interested in Church at all

A few months ago I made a decision that I was not interested in attending church any longer and that included being involved in activities there.

Its not all long ago that I was happy to attend and happy to help out. I’m not entirely sure what sparked the change in attitude. I suspect it was no individual thing that drove this decision; rather it was a gradual adjustment of perspective.

The final straw came when my wife volunteered us both to help out in the weekly youth club. I didn’t particularly respond positively and the result was the accusation of me putting on a face like I’d been told to do something I didn’t want to do. The back story here is that some members have become unhappy with the church and withdrawn. This included some who had been involved in the youth club. Being in dire need of assistance, my wife did the honourable thing and offered help from a couple with past experience of youth club.

I went along for a couple of weeks and did my best, but frankly my heart wasn’t in it and it showed. Its hard to pretend to be an enthusiastic youth leader when you really aren’t engaging with the bigger picture. I had fun in the games but found the story time and biblical elements even more uncomfortable than when I sit in church.

The result was I had to admit that I was being turned off church and was at a point where I really didn’t want to be there at all. My wife has been very gracious in this and I suggested that I stop altogether because the last thing she wanted was a husband who resented church because it was forced to be there for the sake of appearances.

I didn’t see this coming

The honest truth here is that this has taken me by surprise. I never expected to be in a place where I was stopped church altogether and would seriously wonder if I was heading along a path towards being ‘anti church’. I’m not there now, but I do wonder if one day I will become disillusioned with people of faith to the point that I become anti organised religion to the point of some of the vocal atheists I know.

I’m not there yet, so let’s not get too carried away just yet.

I think there are two main reasons for my change in stance. One is that I am not at all comfortable being in a church service environment any more. Everything is so familiar, and yet so strangely alien. I know most of the hymns and song off by heart, I have heard most sermons and children’s talks. However, its not a world view I identify with anymore and the arguments I hear all get disassembled in my mind. I simply can’t engage on either a spiritual or intellectual level.

Maybe one day I’ll be able to articulate how and why I made this transformation of attitude. For the moment I can’t, I only know its happened. Maybe it was inevitable and I was just being naive or denialist in thinking I could continue to be supportive of church; probably both.

 

There’s a problem in front of the pulpit

I wasn’t expecting to get frustrated with the church we’re now attending, but now that we’ve been in our new location for a year the imperfections have begun to show and this time my wife and I find ourselves in the opposite position that we were in when I wrote this post (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/02/16/there%E2%80%99s-a-problem-behind-the-pulpit/)

To set the scene, this church is predominantly an elderly congregation. The blunt bottom line is that unless the church attracts a significant number of younger people it will cease to be able to function. By younger I mean working people in the 20-40 year age group. Even the 40-60 age range is not that well stocked. The pastor and his wife are middle aged, placing them among the youngest church members.

The church has struggled along for a time with this elderly, however, its location in the town is an advantage and it has a thriving youth club setup where it is very busy each Friday night. Not many of these kids translate into young adults on a Sunday morning though. For that to happen there needs to be a change.

This is where the problems are.

When we first started attending the church more than a year ago, Sunday worship consisted of either a piano or the organ (which is a rather decent pipe organ) being played somewhat averagely or for a chorus, the song was played from a CD. It really wasn’t very inspiring.

The pastor has worked very hard to be relevant to a younger congregation because he knows this is what he needs to attract to the church. Other church members have apparently been praying hard for a long time for someone talented to come and improve the music aspects of Sunday services.

So when the pastor employs an office assistant, a lady with a good singing voice married to a man who plays keyboards in a band, and shortly after my wife turns up, also with a good singing voice, and music skills and a desire to lead worship; its seen by some as the answer they’ve been looking for.

If it was so perfect, what went wrong?

People, that’s what went wrong.

A year has gone by and my wife regularly leads worship and when she does the church gets treated to a very skilled keyboardist, a gentle drummer and two wonderful female vocals. Occasionally she pulls out her flute as well. She puts a lot of effort into making sure what she arranges is thoughtful, fits with theme and sensitive to as many needs as she can.

However, its still not good enough for some because now its like they are being performed to and they don’t want that. Its also been noted that the three couples mentioned above socialise a lot together and some think that’s not on. As it happens, the three men (Pastor, Keyboardist and myself) all go the local camera club and the three ladies have become good friends. Its only natural that there would be dinners between them all, after all, without each other the three couples wouldn’t have the essential social life of people the same age.

That’s not all that there is, there are some people with specific theological agendas, some of which conflict with the pastor. From what I’ve seen, I think the pastor is right and those with the agendas are on questionable theological ground.

So here I am, in the unexpected position of being an atheist in support of a pastor, who I call a good friend, while elderly Christians, people of long standing faith who should know better, threaten the church and spread bitterness. A sizeable number of people are apparently absent from services now and the pastor’s attempts to visit and reconcile have been rebuffed. I say apparently absent, because I no longer attend, but that’s for another post.

 

Missing a Good Sing Song

I never thought I’d say it; but I caught myself singing along enthusiastically to the worships songs a few weeks ago. Up until then I had always sung the songs half-heartedly, being very conscious of what they say and that I simply don’t subscribe to those beliefs anymore.

It happened because I relaxed. The congregation were singing along, as per normal, and I was half mouthing, half singing, as quietly as I could get away with. Then suddenly along came a song I knew well and off I went. I don’t recall how far I got before realising what I was doing, but when I did I found myself mentally chastising myself for being weak. I was almost embarrassed.

What surprised me most was how I reacted to this little slip. It was almost as though I had done something wrong. Oh what a reversal of attitude!

Regarding Worship

As a Christian, worship was always important and, despite my less than perfect singing voice, I did enjoy singing songs and entering into a spirit of worship while doing so. In my mind, the act of singing in Church and the experience of worship are entwined. One shall not and cannot separate them.

So with this mind-set, it is hardly surprising that I don’t want to blindly worship and entity I don’t believe in. That would be silly.

Thinking about it afterwards though, it also seems silly getting worked up over what is really just a joyful sing song. Should I care what the songs are about? How is it different to appreciating music on the radio, which will on occasion contain lyrics that I disapprove of as well? It can only be because of the association I have with singing in Church and worship.

That was four weeks ago and I’ve not been back since. The not being back is unrelated to the event in question; it has just happened that way, a combination of it being convenient for me to stay at home because of stuff to do, mainly because I have to work.

We’ll see how I progress on this one, I have more or less told myself that its okay to join in the singing even if I struggle with the lyrics. I fully expect the mental link there to struggle. However, I’m really not going to give myself a heart attack by joining in, so why get so bothered by it?