Sunday, November 6, 2011

Church on the Down Low

We went to church today.  No, my blog hasn't been hijacked.

I am, for lack of a label, somewhat agnostic, a bit Buddhist and more 'spiritual' than anything else.
Chicken has been getting close to the idea of God being your higher power for quite a few years now.
We both grew up "in the church"; she in a quite liberal Methodist where the idea of hell was never really preached about and me in a very conservative Southern Baptist where you are reminded of hell constantly.
While neither of us believe that Jesus is the actual son of God, we do both agree that he was a great (misunderstood) man in his day who had that 'certain something'.  Was he a prophet?  I dunno.  I guess it depends on your definition.  To me, I believe he was a great leader--much like Ghandi and MLK.

When I remind myself to live with full awareness, I am a much nicer person.  Having children has made me more aware of how I treat people, the things I say, the tone I say it, my critiques and praises.  I do want my children to grow up to be good, kind boys and men.  Don't we all?  I know that I need to model the behavior.
I don't need to go to church to make this happen.  It's not about that.

But.  For a long time now (before pregnancy) Chicken and I have talked about being a part of a spiritual community**.  One where we are not judged and we agree somewhat with the message.  Mostly, because of my upbringing, Christianity scares me senseless.  I've heard and seen so much hatred and bigotry spewed that it's made me believe, "Wow, if that's what Jesus would do this world is in deep shit."  I distrust organized religion.  Wars break out over which God is the right God.
I think that God is what you make of him/her.  He is just that--yours.  He is the Jews and the Christians and the Buddhists and the Muslims and the Hindus.  He is the same God.  No need to fight....

And Jesus....who ever he really was....he preached love.  And forgiveness.  And some seriously awesome life lessons.
I mean....if we really all lived our lives based on beautiful and peaceful would this world be?

So we found this church.  It's one of those new kinds of churchs with a live rock band on the stage and you meet in an auditorium and it's filled with hundreds of (mostly) white 20-30 somethings.  You know, the kind of church where the volunteers hand out gum and granola bars on street corners and slip you a little card about how cool their church is?  Their non-churchy church.  Just come as you are.  Jesus love you.

We've talked about going to this non-churchy (me:  "It could be a cult.") church, so this morning we decided to just GO.  It's fairly near our place, the times worked with the kids schedule and why yes, they did have excellent child care facilities.

I admit I walked in completely skeptical.  I can't even remember the last time I willingly went to a church service, but I'm guessing more than 20+ years ago.  I am sure that I gave everyone a bit of my "I don't trust you Jesus freak" look.  Except that these people really were pretty cool.  And nice.  And real.  But still, they were at church!  Uh....but so was I.  Hmmm.
There were free bagels and coffee and tea and really nice people.  That is so suspicious!!
We went straight up to the child care to check things out and spend some time before going to the service.  I honestly thought the boys would flip out and I'd pack them up and say "See!  We weren't meant to go to church!"  Except that they loved it and didn't cry when we left and didn't freak out while we were gone for one hour and 20 minutes and W2 didn't even really notice when we came back he was having so much FUN.  Free child care on a Sunday morning.  And bagels?  Hmmmm.

The service opened with live music and the words were projected on a screen at the stage if you wanted to have a sing-a-long.  The musicians were very talented but the words did freak me out.  I seriously thought about leaving when the lead singer did that 'thing' where you sway and put your hand up as you sing (reaching to God?).  That shit is just freaky to me.
But I stayed.  And the (preacher?) was young.  And had a great message and said (mostly) things that I could agree with.  The message was--overwhelmingly--about love.  And I can't deny that sitting there for an hour listening to him speak made me remind myself to live my life with more awareness.

That can't be a bad thing.
Having a community of nice people who accept you and your family with open arms, that can't be a bad thing, right?
I don't know.  We'll give it another shot next week and see how we feel.

I know one thing for sure:  I cannot tell my mother!!!  Oh, the confusion this would cause that poor woman. (Who AM I?)
For now, my church-going is on the down low.

**For the record, the Unitarians were our first choice, but the church is too far and the service too late for the kid's schedule.  Ditto the MCC (gay church). This one worked.  We'll see if it keeps working.



Kira said...

Same here Puffer! My dad is a huge (born again) baptist. I hate his church, full of phony people and the Revs. kids walk around with Blackberry's. One can only wonder where that money is coming from. A lot goes on in that church that makes one go /:-/

The last straw was when a girl abut 19-20 years old had to stand in front of the entire congregation and apologize for her out of wedlock child.

Unitarian is the way to go for me. I can't deal with all of the shouting and scream-singing.

tireegal68 said...

Wow - cool beans, ladies!
We had a visitor at our UCC church today who is a friend of ours and she sung in the choir with us and had a good time. She needed to pray with old ladies and she got her way, except there weren't many old ladies there today.
If you are looking for a church that is gay friendly and ordains gays who have sex with their partners - you know - like real couples, you might want to check them out too.
What does this church say about the gay thing? I have to admit I am scared of those big churches and the swaying thing. Not to negate your nice experience of course and the childcare and bagels and tea sound excellent. Just sometimes they say they accept everyone and that means they want to change you first.
I think since having a kid I have felt more accepted, more part of something and more invested in church. My partner is training to be a minister and she is a cool chick. I think my beliefs are along the lines of yours, and the good thing about many liberal progressive churches is that you don't have to subscribe to any dogma - though your beliefs and thoughts are respected whoever and whatever they and you are.
Okay, I am off my soapbox. Looking forward to hearing more tales from church. And as someone who has few local relatives I have to tell you that church really can be a family / community too, which is great!

anofferingoflove said...

we recently attended our first post-baby service at our church (UU). it was nice to be back, but SUCH ruckus to get everyone out the door (and honestly, we are still feeling a little nervous about leaving the kids in the childcare area) that it'll probably be a while before we are back regularly. i do miss that community & the services though - it's great ya'll are finding a way to create a spiritual space for your family :)

Mary said...

My partner and I would love to find a church like that. We were both raised catholic (with all the guilt). Right now we go to the Newman Center on the university campus. It just isn't working for me...but it is for I am going to stick it out. Cant wait to hear more more about your church visits......

Mary said...

My partner and I would love to find a church like that. We were both raised catholic (with all the guilt). Right now we go to the Newman Center on the university campus. It just isn't working for me...but it is for I am going to stick it out. Cant wait to hear more more about your church visits......

Strawberry said...

I'm glad you had a good experience and overall it sounds like this church is a good one. I cannot bring myself to partake in nearly anything religion-oriented, even though our synogogue is totally accepting. I just can't stomach it really. I keep thinking, WHY...WHY do people need this? (but if it makes them happy...)

Carey said...

I like the sense of community you get in church (I was raised Lutheran, Steph Catholic)... I just can't listen to the God message bit. In CA we went to a Japanese Buddhist church... Loved the service & message, but felt out of place not being Japanese. Totally loved your comment on the hand raising swaying bit... Made me think of those Christian music infomercials! Looking forward to hearing more...