Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Why I Don't Go To Church

FIRST, AN APPETIZER: a follow-up on an earlier post: 

Back on March 16th, I wrote about the Bulwer-Lytton 2012 Worst Opening Sentence competition. If you recall, I was contemplating the idea of submitting an entry with hopes of being the grand prize winner. How cool would it be to have this esteemed honor to brag about all over the place? But I never seemed to get around to actually writing it. And life being what it is, I forgot about it until a few days ago when I saw the winners announced on Huffington Post. Dang. Why didn't I at least make an effort? Oh well. Maybe next year. If you feel so inclined, you can click on the link and read the winning entries. It's kind of fun. http://www.bulwer-lytton.com/2012win.html


NOW FOR THE MEAT: Why I don't go to church.

It was way back at the turn of the century that I gave up church for good. I'm pretty sure it had to do with my penchant for landing in churches that harbor a covert extra-biblical agenda. I didn't have a good track record and I just knew that for me, the process of finding a group of like-minded believers became too painful.

For several years afterward, I felt terribly guilty. I was "sinning against God." I was letting my family down. I was "feeling sorry for myself." Yet despite all of the incessant internal criticism, I still couldn't walk my body inside a church building.

Eventually the guilt subsided. The sense of belonging I craved began to dissolve as I took wobbly steps towards independence. At some point, I realized standing on my own two feet wasn't as scary as I'd believed it would be. I could actually trust my own mind to do the thinking, rather than rely on the teachings of the church.

Grieving the loss of an ideal eventually gave way to a sort of disgust where anything Christian or religious was concerned. I was mad about the ways I'd been manipulated. Angry at the blind, unquestioned "following" that I'd submitted to for two decades. What an idiot I was for flying right into a cage of religious mandates and sealing the door, living a life bound by rules at my own hand. What was I thinking?

There are many people who are born and grow up in religious, cult-ish settings. They have no power over the brainwashing they're subjected to. I feel for them. My story isn't like that. I was a culpable player in my own demise.
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I'm planning to shift gears, writing about the premise for my memoir. The traumatic events I went through during my childhood up to my 30s are the impetus for my memoir. I want my blog to become an adjunct of that work. I'll be offering relevant and brief snippets on those subjects. I hope to make my writing specific enough to be authentic yet general enough that even if your story is vastly different, you'll be able to relate on some level.  

Please feel free to add your comments on the matter. 


12 comments:

  1. I was raised Catholic and we went to church every Sunday no matter what, even if we were camping!
    As soon as I moved away from home I quit going to church, only feeling guilty when my mom would mention it (and still does). It wasn't for me, too many things I didn't agree with and felt like a fake going even as a teenager. I've gone in and out of that same feeling of disgust about religious stuff.
    Personally I don't need to be in a building to appreciate people and know how to treat them and the earth we live on. Honestly so many people I know that make a big show about going to church aren't really that good in how they treat others.

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  2. I need to come to this blog more often. You're an interesting person and it's fun to read your posts.
    I gave up on church long ago but don't have your background. Looking forward to more posts about your life.

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  3. Dear Grace ~ DH and I were both raised in church, but we left organized religion many, many years ago. However, we did not give up our beliefs. In fact, they have become stronger. God dwells in mens' hearts not in buildings. Church going does not make people good or better. It can and does make people proud and self-righteous. I'm not saying that church going is wrong, that there are no good churches. Church going just isn't for us. We will all stand before God in the end and answer for our own lives, whether we did good or bad. Church going will not save us.

    Religions have made too many rules that really have nothing to do with God's love and mercy for each and every one of us.

    The scripture below came to my attention a couple of days ago and they seem right to post here, I hope you don't mind. They are found in Acts 17 taken from the KJV of the Bible.

    ****

    God that made the world and all things therein,
    seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth,
    dwelleth not in temples made with hands;

    Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;

    For in him we live, and move, and have our being

    ****

    We are God's creation. We do not need a building in which to worship him. We don't need someone laying down their manmade laws as to how we should live. We can call on Him in spirit and in truth at any time, 24/7, 365 days a year, all the days of our lives.

    Thank you for this thought provoking post. When we first quit going to church, I felt guilty for not keeping up with going to church three times a week. I no longer feel guilty, I feel set free. Here's another bit of scripture that fits, found in John 8.

    If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;

    And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

    I don't have all the answers, not by any stretch of the imagination. I am not perfect, I am a sinner saved by God's grace and mercy. I am a continual work in progress. A diamond in the rough, a piece of sand becoming a pearl. I am thankful to Him, whose name is Jesus. He is called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

    Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady



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  4. Grace, I can relate. I didn't want anything to do with anything that smacked of Christianity or God for many years because of my experiences when I was young. I've been able to make peace within myself, but I'm a different person when I walk into church now.

    I'm writing about one of my early experiences in a blog post tomorrow.

    I'm so excited that you'll be using your blog to be an adjunct of your memoir! I'm trying to do the same thing. So it's nice to have a kindred spirit! :-)

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  5. I would love to come up with a line like that and will try...I may actually succeed in that endeavour.

    I appreciate your sharing about church and such things. Religion is a powerful phenomenon and unless used for good it can do a lot of damage...sadly it is used mostly for the latter. I went to a french catholic school and loved the nuns even though they were very firm. I loved how they bossed men around... : ) I wanted to be like them. My sisters were sent to a jewish school and learned a lot of fun jewish songs. My father who used to be atheist wanted us to experience everything and I am glad he was who he was. Much like you he felt religion had not done a good job with the world. I belong to the baha'i faith because it believes in all, in the need for divine guidance. I love religious writings but like you find religious communities testing at times....a lot of times...ha ha...anyhow, everyone has to follow their own spiritual path and that path has ups and downs and looks different for different people. with love xx

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  6. I feel sad that you and that any one else has suffered by the hand of the church and felt so manipulated. I can understand the disgust that brewed.
    My opinion is that organized religion is man made and once man gets involved there is sin, power-struggles, money-grabbing and the like competing, when it should be about love for God and one another and that is it. Just my opinion. There is no teaching that you have to be Lutheran, Methodist..etc. It can be convenient to come together with similar beliefs, my husband and I have a church that we serve with and all of us can do more together for our community than I could do on my own. But that is us and now. There have been years we did not attend church and I was no different of a person and had no less faith then as I do now. I am curious about your book and am looking forward to your posts.

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  7. Raised Catholic and went to Catholic school and church every day for those schools years...Church every Sunday until college and then I had time to find me with no rules....these manmade rules seem to be counter to how we should be treating each other...I find God less in a church and more in the hearts of people and their actions...I am spiritual and find that spirit in nature more than a building...left it long ago and cannot abide man's so-called religious rules that cause more harm and hate....can you tell this is a sore subject...love the post and the snippets of the memoir to come!

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  8. I should blog about how I never got confirmed. :) Mom would drop me off at the church, I'd walk through the building, out the back door, over to the bowling alley that had a broken pop machine. Bang it hard enough and voila! A coke for free since Mom never let us have that stuff. Now the bad side to this story is how she invited the whole family to church on the day I was supposed to get confirmed. And, that's when the awful truth came out... Anyhoo. The mountains are my church. And, I'm anxiously awaiting your memoir.

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  9. Interesting post. I was raised going to church, but even as a child, something never felt quite right about it... man's writings, translations and interpretations which all too often lead to control, rules, manipulation, and even as you say, brainwashing. So I don't go to church either, quit as soon as I turned 18. However, that is not to say there's nothing to believe in. I do believe in deep meaning to human lives lived. There are reasons why things happen to us, and if our spirit lives on (as I believe it does), we are supposed to better ourselves and others in a sense of spirit and mentality, and learn from our earthly experiences. This seems to make more sense to me anyway. Look forward to more subplots and snippets Grace! : )

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  10. As someone who has severed in the church as a minister for over 10 years I can definitely say I know your pain. "Ghandi" said "I would be a Christian, as I loved the teachings of Christ if it weren't for the Christians". Give up on the church if you must, but don't give up on God. Like Flower Lady, I pay little attention to the organization that is the church and focus my attention on God and his work. It is that foundation upon which I stand to this day...

    I enjoy reading your blog. Some great reads here.

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  11. Grace, I made time to read this one post today and it is well worth it. I was converted to Catholic when Mom remarried. While my parents beat the hell out of me, the Church offered me a smidgen of strength--but then ripped it away because I was, of all things, female, and therefore not allowed to do be much more than be a virgin or the stereotypical whore. I couldn't hold any real position in the church; I simply wasn't worthy of it. I walked away and I think I turned out pretty well. I love people, honour the earth and life, and I'm trying to give back because so many amazing people helped me save my life. Living well to exact my brand of revenge. :))

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  12. Gosh, why did I stumble on this post today? Such a relief to spend time with other free thinkers. I applaud your honesty and courage. Although I don't like to think in terms of revenge I have my own paraphrase "Loving well is the best revenge." Good luck, I will be following along.

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