So, my mother got mad at me the other day. She accused me of purposely adding Kung Fu for the kids on Sundays so that I could have an excuse for her not to take them to church with her. She’s wrong. I don’t want her to take the kids to church because I think her church is crazy.
To clarify: I don’t think ALL churches are crazy and I don’t think all churches are bad. I don’t even think that her church is bad. In fact, I consider myself Christian – just not currently attending church. And if I thought her church were less weird, then I wouldn’t have as much of a problem with my mother taking the kids.
Here’s the thing. I know I am having a hard time finding churches because none of them meet my ridiculously long list of things that I want these churches to have. I know I’m looking for a Unicorn church and quite frankly, I used to feel really guilty about not taking my kids to church. But since I’ve started to cut out guilt, I’ve decided that right now, church is NOT a priority to me.
I don’t usually feel bad about my new state of actively not taking my kids to church (versus passively just not getting around to it). However, the other day while we were driving, Cookie Monster asked, “Why does Ah-Ma really like imaginary things?”
I paused. “Do you mean things like Jesus?”
I nearly died laughing (or I would have if I allowed myself to laugh out loud).
Alternatively, Gamera likes to insist that Jesus is a watermelon. It’s even funnier when she insists in Chinese.
Another contributing factor to me not attending church is that when I do attend church, it usually pisses me off. It’s either the message that pisses me off or the fellow attendees. Obviously, this says a lot about my own character. However, it is also indicative of my fellow attendees.
Now that I think about it, it’s not usually the church services that annoy me so much as the small groups, Bible Studies, or book studies.
I find that I usually cannot have any sort of religious conversation with people I do not have a personal relationship with. The only reason I can have conversations with people who I am actually friends with is because I can remember they are human – and if they say something I disagree with, I can usually recall how to be a kind person. But if it is a stranger or an acquaintance, I have far less compunction and I’m afraid my inner asshole shows a little too often. And who wants to be that person?
But the reason why I have a hard time having these conversations (and I have had this problem since childhood) is because most of the conversations are superficial and cliché; rife with lazy thinking and shitty theology. Nothing pains me more.
A few years ago, I ranted about Sunday School and how woefully inadequate it is in preparing our children for the hard questions we ask of God and the Bible and of Jesus. I would posit that this is also my gripe with grown ups.
Am I snob? Am I asking too much of people?
Look, I know that just because someone believes something doesn’t mean that’s how they apply their theology. And I get that I can be a dick and treat people with contempt because I find their thinking derivative.
But truthfully, I’m so tired. I’m so tired of the church being silent and irrelevant on things that matter to me. Yeah, yeah. My eternal soul matters. But my life here and now matters, too.
You know what I want?
I want to see churches have hard conversations about race and sex and money and suffering. I want to see churches have honest repentance for their complicity in racism and misogyny and abuse. I want to see churches be real and take responsibility for the ways they have contributed to the status quo.
I know that there are some voices in the desert, calling out to the rest of the US church for repentance. But mostly, they are slapped down and silenced.
So my solution is to not have much to do with the church in my day to day life. As a result, my children think Jesus is imaginary. Clearly, my method is working out just great.