I gave a “sermon” at the UU in Columbia at the end of September and they’ve gotten around to putting it up on their website. If anyone is interested in listening to me talk about rhetoric, emotions, and Prop 8… here’s yet another opportunity!
I went to the Unitarian Universalist Church in Columbia, SC, for the first time today. It was, well it was church, which is to say it was mostly boring. Someone recognized my name as being a blog, though, so that was pretty cool. And everyone was super nice, friendly, and non-proselytizey. Additionally, the minister laughed at something funny I said, so that was good.
I like the people who go to the church and what they stand for and the sermon was pretty interesting — I mean, the minister is an atheist, so it’s not really anything like church church, but it still involved the stand up, sit down, sing this, dunk the baby in water thing. Basically, all the rituals that made church seem ridiculous and boring when I was a teenager. It turns out, I didn’t ever grow out of this phase, to the shock of absolutely no one.
I grew up in the Episcopal Church, which I didn’t particularly like, though I have some respect for in terms of its politics and liberalness. Church involved getting forced to wake up early, wear uncomfortable clothes, sit in incredibly uncomfortable chairs and listen to things you couldn’t care less about with the constant threat of disciplinary action if you did something interesting like read or draw — and frankly I got enough of that at school. My instinctive feeling that church is similar to prison is, therefore, not working in its favor.
So what I learned is that church without the creepy Jesus bits is still pretty churchy.
However, after the service, I got to spend some time with a lot of the people there, and they are interesting, snarky liberals whose company I enjoy. And the thing I did like about the service was that it was a relatively small congregation, so it was sort of informal and absolutely nothing like going to a service at Trinity Cathedral (read: pompous). So, hopefully there are ways to get to know the people that don’t involve the hellish torture of listening to “If I had a Hammer” ever, ever again. Ever.
People assume, for some unfathomable reason, that because I’m a progressive, liberal type person that I am also into hippie-dippie, touchy-feely, hand-holding, peacenik circle jerks singing Kumbaya and saving the Earth by composting and like loving animals and nature. I am not that person. I think 90% of my dislike of service would be fixed if the music wasn’t… what it is. *shudder*
Not that church has ever been something I’ve missed or particularly wanted in my life, but it’d be nice to get to know some like-minded people.
I had forgotten how religious this place is. I can’t tell if people here are genuinely more into religion or if they just like to talk about it more. I have had religiousish conversations with far too many people today. I will say this though, none of them have been at all horrible to me when I am outed as an atheist, so I feel like that’s good.
I went to an atheist meetup group here and I have learned that there are several atheists who go to the Unitarian Universalist church in town. Now, I appreciate the need for community, and being someone just moving to a new place where I don’t really know anyone, I can see the appeal. I am however completely wary of any place that’s churchy and it seems like the UUs are really open-minded to the point that their brains will fall out. I’m not good about not being critical of beliefs I find… we’ll go with wacky at best.
I did listen to the most recent sermon of the guy who is the head priest thing at the local UU and it was about Religious Humanism, which is sort of like a slightly less interesting Secular Humanism. Why can’t someone be both religious and a Secular Humanist? (Aside from the fact that most religions have tenets that are cruel). I am intrigued, I plan on going some time with my mom, since she’s also curious, though she’s coming at it from the opposite (ie already religious) perspective.
I realized today that one of my biggest problems with Christianity is the fact that it takes away the morality of your choices. Your beliefs all come from somewhere else, you never have to think about what is or isn’t moral. Gay people are awful because the bible says so, and you never ever have to question that belief because if you questioned it, your entire belief structure would come crashing down on you and it’s just so much easier to not confront the idea. Women can’t be pastors because the Bible is pretty clear on the fact that women just aren’t as good as men. Slavery is OK, but let’s not talk about that.
People talk about how difficult it is to be an atheist, to be an outcast and different and not have the consolation of knowing that you go to heaven when you die, but the part that’s the hardest work is probably having to think through your own morality. It’s also the best part. My morality comes from trying to do right by other people, not from fear of hellfire. I find letting god shoulder all the responsibility of your morality to be lazy and more than a little immoral. “Because the bible says so” seems to me to be the most morally bankrupt and intellectually lazy thing someone could possibly believe.