Sunday, July 5, 2009

House of Stone and Light

Raise your hand if you agree with this statement: When I was kid, I was terrifically, catatonically bored by church.

I think most people were - I've yet to stumble across anyone who was a huge fan of the Holy Day when they were in elementary school. My priorities when I was eight didn't include The Word; they ran more along the lines of Full House, Oreo cookies, and avoiding my siblings. Sunday school was a total nightmare: as a shy child, I had a hard enough time integrating into my weekday school. Trying to fit myself into a sporadically-attended class, especially one that revolved around beliefs instead of multiplication tables, made taffy of me. My memories of church aren't great. It's not like I was, like, molested or anything (we're United, not Catholic, for Christ's sake). Church, instead of being a sanctuary, gave me hives.

Like most people I know, church was a Christmas-and-Easter kind of deal; we had to put up with a boring lecture in order to receive treats, eventually. Our years in Calgary were a little different, since my parents found a minister with whom they connected, but for the most part, it's been a lot of heel-dragging through the snow. There was one memorable year when my mother decreed that we'd be going to church for the Advent. We encountered the recently-fired priest who preached a fire-and-brimstone sermon two weeks before the birth of Christ, along with the exhausted minister who informed his half-asleep congregation that Jesus came to "destroy the Earth" before catching himself and correcting it to "destroy death." The edit came too late, however; my sister and I, never the most reverent of human being, were laughing so hard we had to leave.

My parents were raised with faith, but only a little. My dad went to Catholic school, which apparently scared the crap out him, since he now refuses to go into any building with a flying buttress. My mother had a more positive experience, or at least feels a little guilty about not pushing the church issue harder, because she's the parent who prompted the church-going when I was kid. But, like Full House, church sort of fell by the wayside as our family got older.

Religion and church aren't always the same thing, though. The drive for one doesn't have much to do with the other. When I was in high school, I read a little on Buddhism; university brought a lot of Jew-interest. I think what I was really looking for was community.

Two or three generations ago, church was a major social and religious force. These days, it's mostly seen by people of my bracket as either terribly backward and boring, or as the place that hosts all the AA meetings. Canada, thankfully, has a dearth of those offensive mega-churches that seem to be infesting America - while we're not total heathens, we mostly seem to be coming up short in the "fucking crazy" category of churchiness. Thank God. But it still gets a little lonely. Religion isn't just a place of worship: it's a home for volunteers, for immigrants, for the poor, the hungry, the bereft of family, the bored, the drunk, and those who are curious about God and his/her/whatever's infinite nature.

As I get older, I become more curious about religion and the place it'll play in my life. It's a stretch to say I'm all that pious (hello, drinks on Tuesday!), and I'm in a tough spot, given that I believe in God but am a little tetchy on the whole divinity-of-Jesus thing. As far as I can tell, Christians are generally required to believe in Jesus. (Thoughts on The Jesus are strictly personal, however.) But, given that this process, whatever shape or form it takes, is a personal exploration, I can promise on thing: I'm not going to inflict it on my future partner/unborn children. Mom. Jeez.

4 comments:

  1. In Soviet Russia...there are no churches :]

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  2. When I was a kid going to the United Church, Sunday School started about 20 minutes into the service - which corresponded exactly with kid's attentions spans for church running out. Well thought out, really.

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  3. "Two or three generations ago, church was a major social and religious force. These days, it's mostly seen by people of my bracket as either terribly backward and boring, or as the place that hosts all the AA meetings."

    That's a fantastic non-specialists account of what (I think) Nietzsche meant by the death of God.

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  4. I am so sorry that your experiences with Church were not good. It is about relationship not religion. I was a little girl when I encountered the Lord and was absolutely smitten. He Loves me and I love Him. I hope that you will find Him before it is too late. You can't know what I am talking about if you don't have a relationship with Him.

    "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God". 1 Corinthians 1:18

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