I had the pleasure of attending an atheist church on Sunday. I was dying of curiosity, so I went. It turned out to be really fun, interesting, and full of normal people, not cult-y weirdos as I’d feared. It’s called ‘Sunday Assembly’. Here was the highlight for me. I think it will resonate with this ex-Christian Scientist group. One of the speakers was a former Mormon, and he told this story: having recently left the LDS church, one morning he couldn’t start his truck. Immediately his well-trained brain starts its usual convoluted path: “Why is this happening? What did I do to make this happen? What is God trying to show me with this? What lesson am I meant to learn from this?” etc etc etc. And then he realized all he really had to do was call a mechanic!
It has taken me a long time to get where I am, and that is someone who prays twice a day but also went to the Mayo Clinic for surgery a few years ago, with the support of my formerly Christian Scientist family. My cousin is the son of a dead Christian Science practitioner and is now in the Episcopal Clergy. He believes in both.
– Katie J.
Churches are great. I love the history, community, music, preaching. I love the work that they can get done serving the poor and creating community. So I have loads of respect for that. But I haven’t joined any. They all come with uncomfortable baggage I don’t feel like dealing with at the end of the day.
I want more than anything to be reunited with loved ones after death, and for there to be some kind of greater justice for all of the suffering in the world. My volunteer work with asylum seekers makes me wish this so deeply sometimes. But to me, God seems unlikely. The fact that I can’t comprehend the size of the universe is more likely an expression of my limited perspective than proof of a deity.
When I began to go to the Episcopal church I was amazed at the tolerance within the congregation. I asked the priest if the church would have problems with a former Christian Scientist within its ranks, because most people there regard Christian Science as a cult. He said he didn’t think so, that my views would just add a richness to the discussion. Later I realized that eighty percent of the churchgoers were from other Christian religions—Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, etc. No one looks down on anyone. They all just support each other and don’t judge whether one is ‘good Episcopalian’ or not. They expect people not to be perfect, hence they cut them some slack.
The priest told me that the general attitude of the religion is that followers probably should do the elements of the faith like confession and communion and that that many will do them but that no body must do anything. It seemed to me more of a cafeteria than an all-or-nothing approach, and at present that suits me better. Do I understand all the theology? Nope. Do I worry about it? Nope. I enjoy the community, the general caring of the people toward each other, and the tremendous outreach they have in the community. There seems to be something for everybody at the church. So I guess I’m feeling my way. Attending has been an eye opener.