18 January 2016

We Shall Overcome

Me, heathen atheist, I only set foot in churches for weddings, funerals, and sightseeing. Yesterday morning, though, found me in pew 12 on the far left aisle, trying to be inconspicuous. The girl joined a youth choir earlier in the year, and it rehearses at a nearby Presbyterian church, and as a "thank you" the choir sings at a service once in a while. So I went, as designated driver and good sport.

Anyway, as I told the girl, part of knowing how to be a human is learning things about what other people do, like worship, especially if you yourself are not a worshipper. Going to church is a chance to experience the physicality of standing and sitting (and maybe kneeling), and to hear the susurrus of the "trespass against us", and to think about the call & response so often embedded in services. I secretly love singing hymns - it's a chance to exercise my sight singing chops. And yesterday there was a Ghanaian folk song included - so I got to think about the subtly non-Western rhythm and melody of that particular hymn.

But mostly what I was thinking about, in pew 12 on the left aisle, was Christianity. The people in that church yesterday were good, right-minded people, people with a social conscience, working on homeless outreach, looking for a new leader of the LGBT committee, praising the Iranian accord and that it resulted from diplomacy, not war. The sermon was given by a visitor, a white man who spoke well on white privilege, and on the slippery slope from complaisance to complicity. I was genuinely interested in what he had to say. And it made me wonder about the general state of American Christians. Is that church I was in yesterday something far on the lefty fringe? Because to me, we'd be a lot better off if there were more church-goers of that ilk. But what I hear about, the Christians who are making waves, are the bible thumping haters, the abortion foes, the Muslim demonizers and the refugee rejectors, Kim Davis and Jerry Falwell and their fellow close-minded mean-spirited right-wing-nuts.

I can't begin to unpack this. But like I told my kid, the more you know, the better able you are to understand where someone else is coming from. Right? So I googled "christians in america" and ended up reading an interesting piece called "Are We Finally Witnessing The Death Of Christianity In America?".

The state of America is dismaying. But even so, the glass-half-full part of me wants to think that sanity will prevail and that we shall overcome.

Let's work together, let's have peace one day.


Jocelyn said...

I have seen and known Christians make me believe in the power of Christianity. I have seen and known Christians who have turned me off Christianity.

It's sort of like people are going to prove to be people, no matter how they categorize themselves.

(fantastic post)

Anonymous said...

Part of learning to be human. I love that.

-- Jennifer

Julia said...

I tend to think that the Christians one reads about and the Christians whose hearts one knows are often different species.

Love you, my athiest friend.