You go on Sunday and listen to a sermon/lecture. If you’re lucky/unlucky(depending on your point of view) and the speaker is brave enough to deal with it (I’ve daunted many), there will be a Q & A session afterwards. They’ll pass around a collection plate to support the church and various charities. You sing something uplifting and unifying. Meanwhile, the kids have their own program tailored to their development or interest levels. Afterwards, there’s a potluck social. Sometimes there are group outings. There are generally pageants and celebrations for every holiday unless your church is one of the dour sorts that doesn’t celebrate anything.
Some singles go just to meet other singles. Kids either go to play or because the like the stories and singing or because their parents drag them kicking and screaming but dressed up very nicely. Most go to socialize in one way or another or even just feel closer to their Creator as maybe they don’t know how to do it on their own. Most also enjoy an energy enhancement whether they know it or not.
That’s the good stuff about church that some people still miss even after they’ve stopped believing and dropped away. I remember these things I, for one, appreciated about it long after I left the Pentecostal church I used to attend in my late teens.
But I remember bad stuff too: the youth pastor who took advantage of his position of trust to take indecent liberties with young girls, myself among them. The Sunday school teacher who thought all witches were perversions of nature not intended by god to exist. His definition of witch meaning anyone with PSI abilities – people like me and some of my friends were then. He thought all should be burned at the stake. I kid you not. There was a lot of animosity preached against people of other sects and religions and non-religions as well. They really had a thing against Catholics and atheists in particular for some reason, which I really resented because some of my best friends were those. There was an uncomfortably cloying feeling in the atmosphere of the main hall where the preaching is that I’ve noticed in other churches as well. I don’t like whatever it is. I think it might be due to one of two things: the residue of preaching where emotional strings are being pulled in a manipulative manner excessively evoking guilt, fear, hysteria, and divisive feelings towards others or the irresponsible use of magic there.
They didn’t call it magic. They called magic evil unless it was done by Jesus himself. Ordinary people didn’t do magic, according to them, unless they were evil, even if it wasn’t on purpose. But they did it and called it by other names. “Speaking in tongues,” for instance, where they’d use chanting and swaying to put themselves in a trance and invite “the Holy Spirit” to speak through them. One would speak in some unrecognizable tongue and another across the room would translate. I didn’t take part because I recognized what they were doing as channelling and was wary about letting some random spirit or other come into me like they were doing because, no, it wasn’t only the Holy Spirit that spoke through them and sometimes used their bodies for grotesque antics, it was too often just mischievous spirits in general.
I’m not against channelling. I just think protections should be better set up against spirit invaders you don’t want. You know? So I faced a lot of criticism for refusing to participate.
One other thing that bugged me about church that applies equally to religion in general: you get told what you should think and do and what you shouldn’t. There’s a kind of group think that goes on and if you buck it, you will be harshly criticized and threatened with Hell fire for it. You’re not encouraged to use your own intellect or common sense in this department. My church, for instance, aside from being dead-set against other religions and the openly acknowledged practice of magic, also had a big problem with the idea of reincarnation and the theory of evolution.
So yeah, overall, I personally don’t miss church and don’t find any really comfortable to be in, though Catholic churches tend to be more tolerable than most to me but that could have more to do with the architecture than anything. Certain types of architecture attract or comfort me more than others. That, and perhaps the fact that Catholics don’t act as judgemental towards outsiders as most Protestants seem to be.
Anyway, all that considered, I was really amused this morning to hear again about the growing local trend of atheist churches. Sounds to me like they have all the good and bad about them that regular churches have about them. But why are they calling them “churches” when they’re not really places of worship so much as…. Hmm. Maybe they are about the same thing.
I wonder if members mind each other’s business and that of outsiders as happens so often in churches?
I know they place certain limits on thinking just like churches do. Whereas most of what churches teaches have to do with superstition and supernatural (carefully not called that) while science is kind of skirted as though it smells bad, the atheist churches have speakers come to speak on the various sciences and social issues but forbid discussion of anything to do with the supernatural in any manner, shape, or form. Yet they claim they don’t mind religious visitors. So I guess religious visitors are just careful not to talk about their religion in anything but the most pragmatic terms?
Yeah. Anyway, I wouldn’t fit in an atheist church either. I’m more of an agnostic with my own mind about how things are. To me, for example, supernatural just means Super Natural and there’s nothing unnatural about it. Now plastic, that’s unnatural. A full and very lively spirit world and life, that’s natural. It’s the greater part of what we are.
Ha. I probably wouldn’t fit in anywhere. I have a lot of feelings and ideas about how things are that don’t entirely conform to any one group’s.
I see church replacement movements all around me though.
One of them is Darwinianism, ironically enough. I saw a program recently that discussed archeological and paleontological evidence all over the place for the human race being millions of years older than the scientific establishment allows for. Among this evidence and in other species as well, is plenty to suggest that it’s not always survival of the fittest that fuels evolution. More often its cooperation between and within species that causes improvements to happen. Competition, which is often a failure to cooperate, on the other hand, results in devolution (as in Islam) or extinction altogether. Yet wherever this evidence is found, it has often been hidden from the general public so as not to upset the status quo.
Another is the “Alien Astronaut Theorists.”
I watch Alien Astronaut all the time while I’m playing on the computer or cooking at home. Jeb puts it on for me because he knows I’m interested in that stuff AND the not inconsiderable fact that I haven’t gotten comfortable with the newfangled television arrangement yet, a nightmare of cables and controls through various incomprehensible (to me) systems. So it’s my very entertaining background noise.
One phrase I hear a LOT in there is “According to Alien Astronaut Theorists…,” which makes it sound like a religion to me. They’re not stating they KNOW these things. No. They’re staying humble but VERY enthusiastic. They’re stating they BELIEVE these things and the distinction is not as small as it might seem at first glance. By the second or third glance, you can see its religious aspects for sure. There are a lot of possible explanations for the things they’re reporting on, but the only explanation they even consider is Ancient Astronauts.
I think it’s great that some people have and enjoy their churches, temples, religions, whatever. But wouldn’t it be cool if everyone just kept their minds open to every possible idea, weighing each one honestly and fairly, instead of filtering the crap out of every single one and missing the greater vistas beyond?