Religious ceremonies

Long-term readers may remember from way back that I refuse to go to mass at Christmas, which caused something of a stir in my family. A similar issue has come up again and this post is largely to see if my perspective has changed.

So, the situation… you may also know that for the past few weeks I’ve been going to the Alpha Course run by some members of the Christian Union and Agape at the University. They’re nice people but so far I’m not converted. Ruth, who was the person who invited me to the course, invited me to go to a special Christmas service at her church, and I was left in a bind.

Now the issue I have with going to church is that I don’t want to make it look like there are more parishoners (and therefore believers) than there actually are. It’s nothing much to do with not liking it (although to a fair degree I’ve grown out of the habit of enjoying hymns and carols), it’s mainly a political thing. It’s an issue particularly at Christmas and Easter because those are the 2 holy days of obligation when every believer will come to church, so that’s when people get an idea of how many parishoners they have.

On the other hand, they’re all good people and I’d like to get to know them better. It would be a bit stupid and stubborn of me to pass an opportunity like that just because I don’t want to go into a particular building. I won’t have to partake of any mumbo-jumbo as far as I know. There’s also the issue that if I do go, I don’t want them thinking I’m going under false pretences, like I’m actually interested in becoming a Christian again – I’m not at all. But then I had no such problem going to the Diwali celebration that the Vedic society put on. I think that was because it’s a celebration I knew nothing about and that I’d never been to before so it was a good opportunity to learn, but I know what happens at Christmas services so it’d be more a cultural experience.

I’m still not sure. I think I’ll go, seeing as it’s not actually on Christmas but a few weeks before, but I’ve already made it clear that it’s not going to convert me and I’m just going out of vague interest. I’d appreciate other insights into this.

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2 Responses to Religious ceremonies

  1. Jason Piteo says:

    I’m really curious why you’re subjecting yourself to the Alpha course as well as these potential Christian services. Specifically, I’m curious what you’re getting out of the experiences.

    You mention that they’re “all good people”, which I might think would be a meaningful fact. I understand that you might like to spend your time with nice people. I *might* even go to a Jewish service, or some other service, just to understand it better. You seem to be taking it past the level of curiosity, though.

    It seems to me like you’re throwing out a challenge to your friends. You’re daring them to “convert” you back. I know that you already know many of the talking points for both Christianity and Secular Humanism (a religion in its own right). Are you just waiting for one of them to make a compelling argument, possibly one that you haven’t heard before?

    I’m curious to know what drew you away from Christianity in the first place. Was it Catholicism? I know that the more Orthodox churches tend to drive away younger folks. Perhaps that happened to you? At my church, which is Presbyterian, it’s been estimated that 50% of the members are former Catholic. I’m just curious what your story is.

  2. grammarking says:

    I go mainly for the arguments. Not arguments as in petty quabbles, but if someone does make a compelling argument, I like to know I can put up a decent response. It’s good practice, and it prepares me for future debates on the topic. Some at the course are quite knowledgable and it’s good to learn about Christianity and its theology, even just so I can recognise biblical references in other literature (which makes up half of my degree course – I’ve already been able to include this kind of knowledge in 3 of my essays). At the end of the day, I have nothing to fear from healthy debate. If I can’t defend my position, then why am I holding it? But their being nice people is also a big contrinuting factor. As for this church service, ordinarily I wouldn’t go, but this one is supposed to be very unusual and alternative (apparently there’s a snow machine involved), so it’ll be very different to ones I’ve seen before.

    Why I left Christianity can be found in one of the first posts I made on the blog, here: https://notsofriendlyhumanist.wordpress.com/2007/12/01/my-story/

    It does have a fair bit to do with Catholicism but even Christianity in general I now find absurd.

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