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I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what (from my rabid-atheist perspective) appears to be a firm grip by the churches of America on those who attend church. I’m beginning to understand something: it isn’t that the church has a grip on the parishioners, it’s that the parishioners have a grip on the church. Join me below the fold, won't you?

See, the thing is, especially down here in the US South, "church" isn’t just a building you go to one hour a week, it’s the centerpiece of the local people’s entire culture. It’s where you see your friends and neighbors, it’s where your kids go when they’re Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts (you’d be amazed how many Scout troops are hosted in church basements), it’s where at least two people I know met and wooed their spouses (and where at least one person I know met the person he cheated on his wife with), and at the end of it all, it’s where the living go to bury their dead, knowing with certainty that they too will someday be buried there next to generations of their own people. Vacation trips, charity drives, study groups, knitting circles, art classes, the church is at the center of all of it for the majority of Americans, and not just down here in the South.

What do secularists -- and I count myself among their number -- have to offer in place of this richness? The sad, barren truth, without even the dubious comfort of an uppercase "T" on the word? The truth that there is no God and when you’re dead, you’re dead and you’ll never see your loved ones again? And we wonder why we have, shall we say, a bit of a "PR problem".

Secular humanism will overcome "church" the day that secular humanism offers something better. And to be perfectly blunt, "the truth about how the world is" just isn’t perceived by most people as "better". We need more than just "the truth", much more. I’m not sure that secularism as currently constituted even has the potential  to replace "church", if for no other reason than the fact that it simply isn’t set up structurally to answer the same set of human needs that "church" answers.

Originally posted to CrustyPolemicist on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 12:49 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  I think it's 'Opiate of the Masses' (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wee Mama, Champurrado, allep10

      But I'm not sure where you get:

      The truth that there is no God and when you’re dead, you’re dead and you’ll never see your loved ones again?

      "the truth about how the world is" just isn’t perceived by most people as "better". We need more than just "the truth", much more.

      How can you claim to know the truth, without having all the information? With the vast expanses of unknown universe, explosive research into the psyche, and a wealth of unanswerable questions, how do you arrive at your conclusion?

      "The Enemy's gate is down."

      by HegLocke on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 12:57:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Rec'd because it's good to hear opionions (7+ / 0-)

      especially when they are so clearly written.

      I don't attend church, and haven't attended a sunday sermon for a few years now.  I imagine that may be more common up here in the northeast than down south, but then I don't really know, either.

      I am not a secularist; I just don't go.  I can pretend that the hypocricy in some church congregation keeps me away, but really I know that I'm just way too lazy and unmotivated to get up on sunday morning to go down there.

      That all said, I hunger sometimes for the community, the people, the interaction.  I don't even like crouds, but when youn're in church, you there with a group of people who are all in agreement on some matter, and it is that matter you're there to partake in.

      Outside the church, for all our rationality (or not) and careful thought (or not), we don't agree on a whole lot, and the things we agree on (single payer healthcare, maybe?) are either too simple to warrant discussion or we don't feel empowered to directly affect.  The best we can (and should, in this case!) do is call up a congresscritter or two and convince them to do something on our behalf.

      while I do not agree with the OP concerning the relevance of god or faith in these exciting times, I can certainly feel the call in this post to have something, someplace, or maybe even some people to see, talk to, feel a relevant part of.  YearlyKos is an event, not a way of life, and I have yet to see a center or institution that can support more people than your local comic book store.

      Except of course, Church.

      "Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what's right." - Isaac Asimov

      by Aramis Wyler on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 01:07:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Recc'd for honestly admitting (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CrustyPolemicist, deweysmom

        that one's own laziness rather than other people's hypocrisy is the main reason for not taking one hour out of your week to tip your hat.

        Sure most congregations have hypocrites.  But in my tradition (Lutheran) we begin every worship service by admitting our brokenness.  So, if we're sincere, we are some of the least hypocritical people out there.

  •  Wasn't 'Opium of the People' (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CrustyPolemicist

    Tool's first album. I may be wrong, but I think thats right.

    "Heh" - DemocraticLuntz

    by rexymeteorite on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 12:51:15 PM PDT

  •  You can't beat someone with no one (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama, illinifan17

    is a political truism. You also can replace church with nothing.

    In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference.

    by blue aardvark on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 12:53:08 PM PDT

  •  church is where people go to (9+ / 0-)

    find community, since most other forms of [face-to-face] community are dead or dying in the U.S. due to TV, video games, and the internet. I mean I moved to a small town and expected all this community and instead we got nothing. And these are people who probably wouldn't be inside playing XBox like they are now in the suburb my parents live in (another place where church is the only real "community" that people get.)

    while I'm certainly glad that the percentages of Christians are falling, I don't see much evidence of secular community involvement. My suspicion is not too many things would really change here if religion suddenly disappeared tomorrow. We certainly can look at Europeans for an example, but they're a vastly different culture then our individualism.

    eh, c'est la vie.

    (+0.12, -3.33) agree w/ me or go to redstate. i'm snarking. too many aren't.

    by terrypinder on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 12:54:55 PM PDT

  •  Why would you want to (6+ / 0-)

    overcome/replace church in the first place?

    You sleep in on Sundays, and i'll sing badly in the pews.

    •  Why replace 'church' (4+ / 0-)

      Because as a non-believer going to church feels like lying about what I believe but as a human I have a need to socialize with other humans.

      Should we allow a private option?

      by Toon on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 01:11:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's what your county Dem Party is for. n/t (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wee Mama
      •  two words (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CrustyPolemicist, blackjackal

        strip clubs

      •  Join a club (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wee Mama, indyada, gooners
        People do a lot of things other than go to church. Astronomy clubs are one place I've found interesting people to socialize with, and they like to stay up late too.

        --Austin Texas Democrat

        by pdrap on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 01:37:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  That's my cue to plug... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Chrisfs, jessical, CrustyPolemicist

        the Unitarian Universalist faith. We welcome people of varied belief systems, including non-believers. Individual congregations have autonomy, too. Check it out!

        Quitbull with Lipstick: She's a gift that keeps on giving; an Everlasting Gobstopper of fail.

        by SilentBrook on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 02:27:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And *that's my* cue to point out (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          CrustyPolemicist

          that many atheists (such as myself) believe that Unitarian Universalism--especially on the national UU Association level but increasingly on the local level as well--has abandoned any actual respect for non-believers and our ideas. We are routinely marginalized by statements in UUA publications, sermons, and General Assembly speeches; those same fora periodically host intense bigotry directed at us. (During my years as a UU I maintained a blog devoted to protesting UU atheophobia; you can read a handful of posts citing such prominent UUA nastiness here.)

          I suggest that atheists should abandon UUism and find a different forum for our community that does not so placidly tolerate hatred directed at us.

          Looking at the religious aspects of many intergroup conflicts, at the violence carried out by zealots in the name of religion, some people conclude that the world would be safer “religion-free.” They may even try living this way themselves. But too often they only practice a form of self-delusion. Nature abhors a vacuum and so does the human spirit. As C.S. Lewis said, the opposite of a belief in God is not a belief in nothing; it is a belief in anything. Sweep the demon of religion out the door and, like the story in the Gospels, you may only succeed in making room for an evil spirit worse than the first—this one accompanied by seven friends (Luke 11:24-26; Matt. 12:43-45). Zealous atheism can perform this role of demonic pseudoreligion.

          - UU Rev. John A. Buehrens (national UU Association President, 1993-2001), in his book, A Chosen Faith ("The Classic Introduction to Unitarian Universalism")


          For an atheist to expect CHURCHES to pander to the a- theistic search for truth and meaning is like hiring a dental hygienist with no arms to do your cleaning, and expecting her to do a good job of it.

          - UU minister, Norwell, Massachusetts

  •  The First Book of Bokonism (4+ / 0-)

    Verse 1: All of the true things that I am about to tell you are shameless lies.

    Verses 2-4: In the beginning, God created the earth, and he looked upon it in His cosmic loneliness.

    And God said, "Let Us make living creatures out of mud, so the mud can see what We have done." And God created every living creature that now moveth, and one was man. Mud as man alone could speak. God leaned close as mud as man sat up, looked around, and spoke. Man blinked. "What is the purpose of all this?" he asked politely.

    "Everything must have a purpose?" asked God.

    "Certainly," said man.

    "Then I leave it to you to think of one for all this," said God.

    And He went away.

    Verse 5: Live by the foma that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy.

    "There are many truths of which the full meaning cannot be realized until personal experience has brought it home." John Stuart Mill

    by kuvasz on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 12:59:31 PM PDT

  •  It's not that secularism can't replace the church (5+ / 0-)

    ...it's that secularism can't replace the warm fuzzy blanket of self-delusion.

    "Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight." - Albert Schweitzer

    by Apost8 on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 01:00:00 PM PDT

  •  Like most effective brainwashing, the first thing (5+ / 0-)

    is to separate members from the outside world and make the group or cult the whole of the members' experience.

    I'm continually struck by how many of the evangelicals I come across mainly associate at any deep level ONLY with fellow church members.  The ideas of "saved" and not saved, or "chosen" and not chosen (for Jews) only serves to reinforce the separation.

    As for the parishioners having a grip on the church, like all effective imprisonment and brainwashing, the objective is the "Stockholm syndrome", where the captives identify completely with their captors and become their greatest prison guards.

  •  The word you are looking for is (12+ / 0-)

    "community."  There are examples of healthy community outside of religious institutions, but there are some things that healthy religious communities, churches included, still do better than any other alternative I have seen.  The church is a fully prepared, instant support group if you get sick, lose a family member to death, have children who get in trouble, suffer an injury, or fall on faniancial hard times, and the list goes on.

    Religion, especially Christianity, deserves much of the criticism it gets, but there is a healthy human need for help and companionship in the midst of situations like those I listed above.  I have been through some of them myself and hav accompanied friends through them.  I can not imagine getting therough this kind of stuff without help.  The churhc is horribly flawed, but what else you got?

    So I see only tatters of clearness through a pervading obscurity - Annie Dillard -6.88, -5.33

    by illinifan17 on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 01:00:39 PM PDT

  •  Absolutely. As a Lifelong Wedding/Funeral Musicn (11+ / 0-)

    I've been in these churches participating and talking with members for decades.

    And I've been insisting for years that liberals really need to attend a Sunday megachurch service or few, leave their expectations and as much as possible of their intellectual framework home, and OBSERVE EVERYTHING.

    There's a technological/economic aspect of this too.

    Superstition, fundamentalism etc. is associated with circumstances where life is difficult to understand, predict and influence through rational means.

    The left assumes that the understandability of life is on a straight line sloping eternally upward as time progress. I think though it's more of an arc or bell curve. I think in many ways we're moving forward into a world that is harder and harder for ordinary people to understand. Clearly it's harder for them to influence.

    So as you say, church from the most rational to the most fundamentalist is there with not only explanations, but also hope, and a great deal of community with plenty of missions for the strong and energetic, and support for the weak and helpless.

    When we want people to turn away from the more backward-oriented fundamentalism to rationalism, we have to have a realistic idea of how easy that is for them to do, and how useful our ways will be, to them, in their lives, when they practice them. It's no good pointing to Horatio Alger or Einstein, we have to be able to show how real Joe the real Plumber has a better life for himself and his family our way.

    Fact is, it's not always so, not by a long shot.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 01:04:41 PM PDT

  •  You can't beat something with nothing! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chrisfs

    "He's like any other president -- he's a politician and he's got to do what politicians do." Rev. Jeremiah Wright

    by PhillyGal on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 01:08:17 PM PDT

  •  Yes!! (6+ / 0-)

    It is one of our great challenges, which to date has only partial and not very effective answers.  Church provides community, in a society with little to offer of same.  And until we -- the liberal, largely atheistic left -- can do the same, we will be at a terrible disadvantage.  So will more liberal churches, with their assumptions of middle class wealth and lack of social supports in depth.

    Urban cores offer some of the same things to the queer and very left.  I live on Seattle's Capitol Hill, across from a park (which I am looking at now) -- a very beautiful park, built by our community with much help -- named after our first gay state legislator, who died of AIDS complications some years ago.  At night sometimes there are bands, or singers of unearthly arias standing near the fountain for the acoustics (not in the last few weeks, to be fair). Everything from writer's groups to political work to charity care can be found in a few blocks walk.  But that doesn't help people anywhere else much.

    Wiccan community is my personal answer.  Neither wicca nor buddhism require literal belief in dogma, and both offer community in the sense you describe.  Unfortunately -- as with the city -- people are more mobile in those groups, the groups smaller, the affiliations looser.  Great for feeling like one belongs.  Not so hot for child care or finding a home on short notice.

    But I think you've hit on a central problem of our times.  One of the reasons I adore Phillip Pullman is that he tries so hard (even when he fails in some ways) to meet it. From this lovely interview:

    We have to realize that our human nature demands meaning and joy just as Jane Eyre demanded love and kindness ("You think we can live without them, but we cannot live so"); to accept that this meaning and joy will involve a passionate love of the physical world, this world, of food and drink and sex and music and laughter, and not a suspicion and hatred of it; to understand that it will both grow out of and add to the achievements of the human mind such as science and art. Finally, we must find a way of believing that we are not subservient creatures dependent on the whim of some celestial monarch, but free citizens of the republic of Heaven.

    ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

    by jessical on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 01:10:42 PM PDT

  •  From now on I'll be using the ideas in this diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jessical, CrustyPolemicist

    like I came up with them myself. j/k

    But that's an interesting take that completely rings true, IMHO.

    I guess it's what makes the black church a force for positive change such as with MLK and the Christian roots of the civil rights movement (plus Malcolm X/the Nation of Islam as another "centerpiece of rich culture").

    And I guess you can't have truth with an uppercase "T" if you also have a "p" and an "r" in the uppercase-- the two don't really go together.  So we atheists/agnostics will continue to be the cellar dwellers in the standings of American Lifestyle.

    But I like what you say-- in the South (and right down the street from me) it's the racism/sexism/homophobia/xenophobia/greed/ignorance of the church-goers that makes the church racist/sexist/homophobic/xenophobic/greedy/ignorant.  I would add you can't have a wingnut like Steve King or Michele Bachmann without plenty of support out in Wingnutville, USA.

    America is pretty much the way we want it to be-- apple pie then the Pie In The Sky.

  •  google "humanist picnic" (5+ / 0-)

    to see what some atheist groups are doing.  I believe I've also seen media reports of Humanist groups which do the kind of community-building work you want to see. It's also used as a way to avoid atheists feeling isolated and disrespected.

    I'm skeptical that they will ever get the music up to the level of church.

    It's not a fake orgasm; it's a real yawn.

    by sayitaintso on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 01:13:30 PM PDT

    •  Re: music (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rieux, pico, CrustyPolemicist

      I'm skeptical that they will ever get the music up to the level of church.

      I think I know what you're referring to: traditional church music.

      But "praise music" in churches has been so bad, that all you have to do is bring in a decent band to play a couple of truly great songs and you got that church set beat, hands down.

      I remember how I finally broke it off with my estranged wife; it had to do with church music.

      She'd been "going fundie" for years, and real communication with her had devolved to impossibility. When your religion says that the simple act of responding directly to the plain evidence of your senses is humanistic hubris, the simple pleasures of relationship go down the tubes, but fast.

      Well, I was still at a phase where I was exploring the possibilities of reconciliation, and I'd stopped by her church. The church music group played a very, very bad song, which the "acting pastor" baldly claimed had been given to the Irish songwriter "by God". I saw my opportunity to find out, once and for all, whose side my ex was going to take: The side of lying to yourself and others to obtain a half-assed sense of "community" with a church-full of similarly deluded souls, or the side of being direct and humorous and responsive to the real world.

      She walked up to me after the service and asked me if I enjoyed the show. I said, "You remember that song, the one that Dave said was given to that Irish fellow 'by God'?" She nodded. "Did you notice that it was a bad song?"

      The look on her face told me that it was all over.

      Isn't it a good feeling when you see the paper in the morning, it says 'Axe Slayer Kills 19' and you say, "They can't pin that one on me!" - Jean Shepherd

      by razajac on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 02:08:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks; (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jessical

      though I hope you recognize that the quality of a piece (or a genre) of music is of course in the ear of the beholder.

      Nontheistic gatherings can and do incorporate any music at all, although it's understandable that music with specific religious connections is frequently unwelcome.

      Lennon's "Imagine" is an obvious song for an atheist or humanist community event; but why not "Maple Leaf Rag" or "When I'm Sixty-Four" or "Dancing Queen" or "Gangsta's Paradise"--according to taste?

  •  It is all about "magical thinking" (0+ / 0-)

    from Wiki:

    Sigmund Freud believed that magical thinking was produced by cognitive developmental factors. He described practitioners of magic as projecting their mental states onto the world around them, similar to a common phase in child development. From toddlerhood to early school age, children will often link the outside world with their internal consciousness, e.g. "It is raining because I am sad."

    Grow up world.  Please.

    -7.25 -8.15 "Even dogs have hidden agendas" c.moore

    by mydailydrunk on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 01:40:39 PM PDT

    •  no, it isn't... (4+ / 0-)

      ...it is about magic, in the Dion Fortune sense, the alteration of conciousness in accordance with will.  Community ritual is something we are wired for, and we are much less happy monkeys in its absence.  Some of us adapt well, but that doesn't mean the wiring is gone, or even that we are better off without it.

      ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

      by jessical on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 01:44:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You missed the point (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wee Mama, jessical, CrustyPolemicist

      It's not about the beliefs themselves as it is about feeling like you are part of a group of like minded people. It is the exact same reason so many people post to DKos. They feel there are people like them, who share certain values.

      •  but is Dkos the only place you post/read? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SilentBrook

        Is happiness the ultimate goal of existence?  While I may respect and embrace certain tenets of self directed consciousness I feel that the embrace of such to the point of the exclusion of rationality does not ultimately benefit society.

        -7.25 -8.15 "Even dogs have hidden agendas" c.moore

        by mydailydrunk on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 02:28:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  no slippery arguments (0+ / 0-)

          The original topic was about how church works because it provides a sense of community, instead of responding to that,
          you copied and pasted a quote about magical thinking and a one line statement.

          I pointed out that it had no relevance.
          When you address the point that your comment was irrelevant and close to non sequitur,
          then after that we might be able to discuss the ultimate goal of existence,
          until you show me you'll treat the diarist post with the respect it deserves, I see no need to continue the conversation.

  •  Modern society lacks connectness (4+ / 0-)

    I think this is a very insightful post and I think it should be required reading for every atheist. Modern US society is very short on a third place that is not home or work. a place where people can gather as people.
    The book "Bowling Alone" addresses this in a wider sense.
    http://www.amazon.com/...

    Some people use shopping malls for that purpose but I think there are too commercial for a truly social purpose.
    Personally , I'm involved in ballroom dance, which serves a lot of the same purposes that you mention are fulfilled by church.

    If you want to 'compete' or offer a substitute to church, I would start bowling leagues, bridge clubs, board game nights. movie nights and book clubs, amateur sport leagues (not atheist versions, just the things in general), and expect it to take a number of years.
    That's what a lot of people are looking for. To be part of something, part of a community. Not a single issue 24/7 activist community, though that can be a part of it, but simply a community.

  •  Not just the community (4+ / 0-)

    While this is a vital part of church, there's much more to the picture.

    First, a church is about addressing Ultimacy, the ultimate questions about life: why must I die, what'll happen then, what's the purpose of life, etc. We may mock the RW churches (I'm sure you were all waiting for my approval to do so ;o) for the ridiculously simplistic & illogical answers they offer re ultimacy, but

    The truth that there is no God and when you’re dead, you’re dead and you’ll never see your loved ones again?

    is as cold a comfort as when Republicans tell the poor to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. That's more than a PR problem, it's a heartless disdain for the reality that we all must face our human mortality.

    Next, a church deals with pastoral concerns: health, grief, depression, etc. The suffering that goes along with being human. If we liberals kept an apt care for the pastoral concerns of our communities, we might make some headway towards better expressing answers to ultimate questions.

    Last, a church is prophetic: it calls its members to be better in the world. What "better" means does vary, not only by church, but by the timing. An example is Fred Phelps, whose church began with a prophetic message of racial integration, then later shifted to its virilently homophobic agenda. MLK's prophetic skills helped to transform our nation, even if we still must contend with swim club bigotry & troglyditic MSNBC bloavators.

    Quitbull with Lipstick: She's a gift that keeps on giving; an Everlasting Gobstopper of fail.

    by SilentBrook on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 02:00:46 PM PDT

  •  Uggghhhh! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama

    Why is it that there are four or five diaries today by humanists/agnostics/atheists that proclaim to understand this or that aspect of faith and/or believers?  It is as though you are standing at the window sink watching what your neighbors are doing and telling Gladys over the phone everything about which you disapprove.

    •  Think you may have misread the diary. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jessical, CrustyPolemicist

      It's a critique of secularism, not religion.

      Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

      by pico on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 02:06:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Pico - (0+ / 0-)

        I didn't misunderstand a thing.

        Secular humanism will overcome "church" the day that secular humanism offers something better. And to be perfectly blunt, "the truth about how the world is" just isn’t perceived by most people as "better". We need more than just "the truth", much more.

        Having to "overcome" something implies that that something is a roadblock, hindrance, etc.  If it's a compliment to the people of faith - it's like the backhanded compliment, "She's pretty smart - for a girl."

        The entire implication of this and a number of other diaries today - and many nasty comments, too - is that faith and progressivism are mutually exclusive.  That people of faith are deluded, at best, and malevolent, more often.

        Folks seem to have forgotten that people of faith were at the forefront of abolition, of women's rights, of justice for working people, of civil rights.  I am saddened by the narrowness that I have seen today.

        •  that battle... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pico, CrustyPolemicist

          ...wasn't being fought here.  

          The right wing churches -- explicitly the right wing megachurches -- offer levels of community that secular culture does not, as a rule.  Those communities are progressive in some ways, not in others.  In terms of queer civil rights, sex positive culture, and some kinds of free expression, they are exactly a hindrance.  Hindrance is being very, very nice.

          But that's NOT this diary, and not what it touched -- at best -- in the comments.  There is more to the world than angry, religion traumatized atheists and liberal Christians having it out on the rec list.  There are many, many people who see good in religious practice, but they don't go for the Nazareth dude, or the tenets of Christianity.  They just, for whatever reason, don't.  This diary touched at least a few folks like that today, which I thought a real gift, and kind of remarkable.

          ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

          by jessical on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 07:27:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  well, gee.... (4+ / 0-)

      ...I came to understand this, not in the compulsory church attendance of my youth, but in discovering Reclaiming Wicca in my twenties.  This is not a "stand in the window" diary.  It is about something human.  It is not reserved for people who go to Christian churches.  And the diary is hardly disapproving.  Longing, perhaps.  Not in a way I'd mock though, casually or otherwise.

      ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

      by jessical on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 02:25:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  One size doesn't fit all (6+ / 0-)

    As a secularist who is married to a believer, I find it frustrating that fellow secularists wilfully  mischaracterize all believers as fundagelicals and speak with such  disdain.  There are plenty of thoughtful, reflective people in mainstream churches, and while I may not  concur with their faith, who am I to criticize if they find inspiration from a story of a Nazarene carpenter?  

    Not all churches are mega churches led by self-aggrandizing conservatives whack-jobs.  My wife's church (Episcopal) is deeply involved in social justice issues with boots on the ground that put to shame the hot air blown about by too many self-described progressives sitting in comfortable offices.

    yes, probably people flock to more structured sources of community when they are afraid and theatened.  again, so what?  Why is that a problem?   If it works for them?  People want to believe in something, and to feel that there is a purpose in life and in suffering.  As long as they respect my (lack of belief), I will respect their faith.

    In an age where our families move apart and far away, one of the few sources of community left is the church.  And as I see my aged parents, far from where I live, struggling with the deaths of all their friends and isolation of the very  old, I wish that they had a community structure like that to lean upon.  

  •  I'm not devout. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jessical, CrustyPolemicist, deweysmom

    I'm a cradle Catholic and make my living working for the church.  If I didn't work there, I probably wouldn't go, but I do have a wonderful circle of friends there.  As a musician, I hang out with that particular subset of the faithful and we are pretty much an extended family.  

    Your diary raises a good point.  Church is not simply putting your butt in the pew for an hour a week.  If that's all you do, it's just a duty call and anything could take its place.  

    -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

    by luckylizard on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 02:18:31 PM PDT

  •  Church is not just a worship club. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    indyada, CrustyPolemicist, deweysmom

    Believers see it as a mystical hybrid of broken people and the emminent presence of God.  The Church worships -- it isn't worship.

    While our proclamation is foolishness to the worldly and I know how I seem to secularists, one can not dismiss the fact that a lot of good is done and has been done by this strange entity.

    Set aside the Inquisitors and the Right wing Christianists and understand that the Church has brought to the world hospitals, education, the arts, civil rights, famine relief, a sympathetic shoulder, an open door, a warm bed, immigrant support and a whole lot of other stuff probably more so than any other entity of broken people through out history.

    Perhaps the unpublicized merits of the Church that seldom make for tittilating headlines is what continues to draw people to be a part of something that is largely a force for good in this world.

  •  why can't diaries like this make the wreck list? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chrisfs, jessical, CrustyPolemicist

    i guess outrage is so much easier...

    •  no kidding.. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      indyada, CrustyPolemicist

      ...this was one I wanted to see shoot to the top, while people whacked their foreheads with open palms and shouted "of course!"  But, eh, I was happy to see at least a few people who are interested in spirituality and community outside of a Christian or even explicitly religious context speak up, some quite eloquently.  

      I think it confused a lot of folks, unfortunately.  The cultural default is go to church or go it alone.  Even getting a chance to see alternatives to that is pretty well reserved to urban centers and university towns.

      ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

      by jessical on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 04:41:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Diary Rescue please ? (0+ / 0-)

      Maybe a kindly editor will pull this up for more people to see?

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