Useless Thoughts Running Through My Head

various musings of a generation x kad

Archive for December, 2007

Why I’ve been avoiding church

Posted by thoughtful1 on December 16, 2007

In my last post I mentioned that I haven’t been attending church much this year.  In fact, I think I’ve gone one service in the past 5 weeks, which I suppose is unfortunate.  I like our minister.  She is thoughtful, and gives good sermons.  She brings a centered feel to the worship – it feels solid, not flighty or hippy dippy.  Yet, I haven’t gone to church.


Because the church members, the church atmosphere, and in some respects, the religion have gotten on my nerves.

Let’s start with the congregational issues.  We’ve had an unstable past few years – problems with a minister, followed by interims, followed by some tensions over the budget and personnel issues.  And I think people have become so focused on keeping the church running that they’ve lost track of what a church is for.  The result is pressure on its members, like me, to do stuff – serve on committees, help out with fundraisers, get involved in social action causes, etc.  Yet, no one seems to stop and ask, “Why?”  Everyone, it seems, is running around like chickens with their heads cut off.  It’s all Do, Do, Do!  And no reflection, no sense of worshipping.  It feels like  there’s no center to anything.  Just a giant swirl of action.

Add to this my usual issues with ageism and married-ism/family-ism.  I am single.  I look 10 years younger than I actually am.  This has led to comments to me along the lines of,  “But you’re too young to worry about that,” or “You’re so young [aren’t you just cute?],” “You’re young and hip, you should be a youth advisor!”  These comments are made infrequently, but enough over the years to grate on my nerves more and more.  My youthful appearance seems to make it OK to talk down to me.  In addition, I know that if I had a child, or was married, I wouldn’t get these remarks.  And that’s not right, either.

I also feel that because of the ageism and married-ism, I don’t get listened to as much as others.  I also believe that my congregation does not handle bad news about itself well.  One of the interims had a session to discuss the general health of the church.  I raised an issue, and immediately I saw heads shaking, “No,” as if I my opinion and observations didn’t count.  I honestly felt that the only person in the room who was listening to me and taking what I had to say seriously was the minister.

In addition, I got sucked into working on a project I had absolutely no interest in.  To make it worse, the people who were interested seemed to leave me to do all the work.  Early in the church year I hit a breaking point and I had a meltdown of sorts.  I said, “No, I’m not doing this anymore.”  (Well, it wasn’t said that nicely or calmly, but you get the idea.)  The other people involved were shocked!  Why?  Because they hadn’t bothered to pick up on the clues I’d been giving for the past two years about how I felt like I needed a break, or when I said at the beginning of the church year, “I’m really not interested in this.”  After my meltdown, I stopped coming.

Another issue I’ve had is that I do not have a good sense of what our theology is.  What is the argument for a Unitarian view of God?  Why do we believe in universal salvation?  What is the center that holds us together?  And why do I fail to feel that sense of gravitas and awe that Anglican/Episcopalian music gives me?  (Note:  UU music, IMO, sucks.  Not completely, but it is pretty lame.)  I’ve been reading The Challenge of a Liberal Faith, but I’m working through it slowly, and it’s a little dated at times.  It has helped, somewhat.  But it’s a shame it’s not as succintly or clearly written as Mere Christianity, which I am also reading, but I suppose that might be an unfair comparison.  Interestingly, while I was reading March I felt a stronger connection to my UU roots than at any other time.  Perhaps because the novel was able to show me something about the religion rather than tell.

So I have been feeling a bit out of it with my church.  And I still sometimes feel the pull of the Episcopalian church.  I cannot explain it – why I want to attend services at Trinity Church in Copley.  I know it has something to do with boarding school and music and my current problems with my church.  But it seems as though there is something more to it, and I cannot put my finger on it.  Is this the beginning of a slow conversion, or just a religious detour for a lifelong UU?

(P.S.  Yes, I have spoken to my current minister about my issues with the church.  She was very understanding, and agreed that the congregation needs to relearn how to worship and meet people where they are instead of pressuring them to serve and do. )


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