Archive for March, 2009

I’m a Church Goin’ Atheist

March 12, 2009

I don’t believe in god, but I do believe in church. I like when folks get together and are preached to about being nice to each other and the importance of the Golden Rule. I like the stories that are told to the congregation at funerals. It keeps us connected. The stories and the prompts on living life work fine for me without the god part.

What church does is bring us all together for once a week pointers, funeral remembrances and wedlock betting lines. It is one of the only ways left to realign the thinking and provide a shared experience for large segments of a community. When there were just a few hundred books in print or, later, 3 or 4 channels on TV you could be reasonably assured that one of your neighbors shared the same experience as you had. When I was growing up, Sunday meant church in the morning and either Ed Sullivan or Disney in the evening. We were Catholic and Sullivan. My best friend was Protestant and Disney. We were doomed as pals.

For me god has gone the way of Santa or the bogey man. No longer do I worry about being naughty or nice based on a cost/benefit analysis of my relationship with god, but with another higher power, my wife. I just try to do what I think is right and the key word there is “try”.

And that is why I like going to church. It helps me think about what is right. The rituals might be reassuring for some, but I like the part where the preacher addresses the flock, where we are given instruction and clarification on how to live life. I like when the memories are found in a life that has ended and retold to all of us in the audience. That helps us connect. I could pass on the “god will bless me with riches” or the “burn in hell” stuff; I just like a good sermon that draws us into the same mindset for a while and brings us together with the knowledge that there is something bigger than ourselves. I don’t mean god; I mean the community of man. The sermons and story telling just bring us back to the starting line all evened up and ready to start off again at life.

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