In the last two weeks I have been invited to church a total to
five six times, inadvertently engaged in three conversations about religion, been ‘witnessed to’ and ‘testified to’. Twice. Each. For the most part I am a rather reserved person (how I got my current job is still a mystery; either they were suckered or I was) but for some reason total strangers will sidle up to me in the market, as I wait on line, while I am shelving books or during some other solitary Rachée activity and strike up conversations that ultimately involve God, religion, their church and the coup de gras: an invite.
Anyone who knows me KNOWS that I go to no one’s church. It’s not that I think I am better than a higher being; it’s just that Rachée and religion are akin to oil and water. As a kid, Sundays in my household used to be the original Stitch ‘N Bitch without the stitch! Each week Mom would call my sister and I to get ready for church and we would cry, plead, beg, argue, anything to not have to go to. Bubbie belonged to a Baptist Church, Bethany Baptist, and the average service was about two-ish hours long. And don’t let it be a special occasion; we would be in that sucker all day. The kicker: my mom wouldn’t even GO to church! She would always stay home sipping coffee as we got dressed (in our finest frocks) and finished whining.
My dad was a Catholic and every so often he would head to church. By comparison Catholic church was great: we could wear anything we wanted, service was only ONE (1) hour and we would be done. Sometimes there would even be a flea market afterwards (holla!). As I grew older and my mom would stop forcing me to attend, church seemed doable. There were times I would make resolutions to attend and would hang in until the third or fourth Sunday in January; after Easter when I would attend a few more weeks (which I would subsequently give up for the siren song of pre-cable-incessant rerun-DVR-television) and then there was my grandmother who would walk past our house to go to her service and I would join her.
For a few weeks.
I really wish I could be like some of my friends; they have such a peaceful calm about them: faithful and patient; serene in their comfort of knowing that whatever happens is what happens, that there is someone else to take the worry. With my penchant for feeling guilty, the tendency to fret, worry, and generally feel bad about everything I need that reassurance that it’s not all on me.
What bothers me about the religious are the way they always think their way is THE WAY. I cannot fathom a higher power that will damn my eternal soul to Hell because I decide to read a Harry Potter book or because I have a drink or eat ham or a shrimp. Also, what make ME right and everyone else wrong? Aren’t we all here to serve the same purpose?
Lately I have been questioning what religion, spirituality and God means. As it stands, religion to me seems to be a chore: spend all day in church, watching people hooping and hollering as they get the spirit, feeling robbed as I was forced to give something to the collection plate as if went by a THIRD time and just wishing those praise dancers would sit the heck down.
Religion also seems like the Rachée that I know and love would be forced to become some PITA bible thumping, holy rolling, Jesus freak peppering every thought and word with “He is good”, “Oh Father!” and “Jesus!”.
Spirituality seems to be the relationship one has with a higher power that will allow them the clarity and sight needed to move beyond their daily life. God is, well God.
When the ex and I were really going through IT, I had made a decision to try out different churches each week. Friends would invite and I would consent and The Bee and I visited a few churches. I reasoned that as I was older, I would hear the message and get something out of the service.
-Baptist: Yeah. It’s bad when the youth leader is doing his math in the balcony during service.
-Pentecostal: Too much hollering. And what is the deal with praise dances?
-Friends/Quakers: Too quiet. I realize that I am supposed to let the spirit fill me but all I could do was nudge The Bee every so often.
I do realize there are other churches however after a few weeks of church hopping I decided that church felt more like a chore and put my religion search on hold to revisit at another time. I just got A.J. Jacobs The Year of Living Biblically. This may be as close as I get to a bible for now (kidding!). A patron suggested the book to me and had nothing but rave reviews.
We’ll see. I don’t think I’ll be appearing in a church regularly on Sundays anytime soon but I just may not cringe when I ask someone how they are doing and they respond, “I’m blessed.”
A Sunday School teacher of pre–schoolers was concerned that his students might be a little confused about Jesus Christ because of the Christmas season emphasis on His birth. He wanted to make sure they understood that the birth of Jesus occurred a long time ago, that he grew up, etc. So he asked his class, “Where is Jesus today?”
Steven raised his hand and said, “He’s in heaven!”
Mary was called on and answered, “He’s in my heart!”
Little Johnny, waving his hand furiously, blurted out, “I know! I know! He’s in our bathroom!!!”
The whole class got very quiet, looked at the teacher, and waited for a response. The teacher was completely at a loss for a few very long seconds. He finally gathered his wits and asked Little Johnny how he knew this. Little Johnny replied, “Well, every morning my father gets up, bangs on the bathroom door, and yells ‘Jesus Christ, are you still in there?’!