As much history as we have, and despite both of us growing up in practicing Christian homes, the very first time Lea and I sat in church together was less than six months ago.
We are enjoying a local Methodist church, which came recommended highly by several of our neighbors as well as my aunt, very much. It is a warm and positive place, with engaging, practical teachings and a marvelous music ministry. We’re also pleased with what the boys are learning in their respective environments. (They’re having fun, too.)
Also, I’m pleased to report that no one has assured me—gleefully, gravely, or otherwise—that my gay friends are damned to hell as abominations, so it’s imperative I try harder to save them.
(All right, I also like stuff like the fact that I can have a cup of coffee during the service, and that I’m as likely to hear a Crosby, Stills, and Nash or Jeff Beck song as I am “Amazing Grace.”)
Next Sunday, Lea and I will attend a periodically-offered class called Christianity 101. It is a prerequisite for membership, which we are seriously considering.
As I’ve occasionally mentioned, I have all sorts of beliefs (and “unbeliefs”) that some significant percentage of Christians don’t have:
- I believe the existence of God cannot be proven. (I choose to believe in Him anyway, hence my self-identification as an “agnostic Christian.”)
- I value the Bible highly, but I don’t believe it is a valid scientific account of anything.
- I don’t believe in a fire-and-brimstone hell, nor do I believe in Satan, nor do I believe in demons.
- I don’t believe in angels, either.
- I believe that the Christian God is in fact “the Way, the Truth, and the Light,” but I also believe that some people call Him different things, and still others might believe He is embodied in the natural world. Indeed, I believe there are many belief systems in which He is worshiped validly, though they differ substantially from my own. My God doesn’t damn the bushman in the outback because he never completed an altar call or prayed the sinner’s prayer, dig?
These differences aren’t what many, many people expect when they hear “Christian,” which is why I’m sometimes hesitant to identify myself as such, depending on the audience.
There are others, I’m sure, but do you see where I’m going? I’m out of step with mainstream Christianity on several things, so it’s a slam-dunk that I’m going to hear things in my class next weekend that I think are false.
The biggest difference between the 15-years-ago Bo (fresh off a two-year-long consideration of atheism, actually) and today’s Bo is that such doesn’t bother me anymore. Though I occasionally enjoy discussing such things intellectually, I’ve lost any motivation to bring anyone who holds opposing faith-based views to my thinking.
I’m not jettisoning my salvation when I refuse to believe that the universe is 6,000 years old, so it doesn’t really matter, does it?
A major motivation of ours in resuming church attendance was providing that environment for the boys. When we began attending, we were content to visit indefinitely. I am embracing the idea of joining because I believe our church acts in productive and meaningful ways in our community—ways with which my service and gifts are consistent.
It’s a better fit for me—the early middle age me—than I thought possible.