I went to church: The Review

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 went to church: The Review

8 thoughts on “I went to church: The Review

  1. 1

    It’s funny, but it’s exactly the music that I remember being most uncomfortable with going to a UU fellowship growing up. Some mix of songs that were religious or too close to I, and very hippy folk-type songs which I never liked either. It was exactly that atmosphere that I suspected you’d also be uncomfortable with. But the individual people were much more interesting than the sum.

    1. 1.1

      Yeah, I guess the problem is that most good music is about romantic issues. Obviously, there needs to be like one service a month called Asshole Sunday where some jerk like me does the sermon and the songs are all Roy Zimmerman played loudly and people can sing along if they want.

  2. Jim

    I’ve been around a lot of different churches, and believe me, I’ve heard and seen much worse. Orthodox liturgy performed by tone-deaf old ladies with creaky voices, people jumping around like ninnies to Partridge Family-ish praise drivel, and a lot of hillbilly twang that could bust you up laughing. Any of it could send you screaming into the street.

    In a lot of ways the order of service wouldn’t be out of place in a Methodist or a Presbyterian church, but there’s always a unique twist…like having the kids promise to watch after the dedicated baby as she grows. That was a new one for me.

    This place opens my mind and my eyes to the world around me, and with the interesting people there (I know, a lot of old hippies) it’s a pretty cool way to spend a Sunday morning.

    1. 3.1

      Oh, I’ve heard much worse in the name of a religious service, but having avoided religious services for many, many years, it’s always shocking to have to listen to the music. Less shocking than, say, the congregation speaking in tongues, just mildly unpleasant really. It just gets on my nerves for some reason.

  3. 4

    I had a similar experience with the UU church. My ex and her family were really involved in their local congregation and they took me along a few times. The first time there I was really thrown for a loop. It looked like church, it sounded like church, it felt like church, but it wasn’t church. <.< The sum of those things made me feel a little uncomfortable. I kept trying to remind myself that I was surrounded by more or less like minded people, but it didn't help too much. They're great people, and I can see how atheists who like the ritual and community but not the dogma would love it; though it's not for me.

    As for the music at church, all I can do is point to this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHb4gs1hwck

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