Weekend notes on activism and church

I went to my local Join the Impact! Rally for gay marriage rights on Saturday, and it really wore me out.  I followed that up with a visit to my hairstylist because I was risking a neck injury from all the head tossing needed to keep my bangs out of my eyes.  So I got to the salon and sat down in the lobby and a couple women were in there eating lunch, so I ate my burger and fries with them.  It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was the only hetero in the room. 

 

For some reason, that awareness helped me see that I am still repressed in my own sexuality and I still don’t know what to do about it.  The problem isn’t so much gay sexuality but sexuality itself.  I still see sex as something vaguely shameful, thanks in part to church teachings on the subject. 

 

But beyond my childhood indoctrination, I suspect that I am the queer one since I have almost no sexual desires whatsoever.  That’s the problem– no, I will not say it is the problem– it is one of the main sources of my confusion about sexuality.

 

What a confusing mess!

 

But the protest went well.  My sign was super-cute and I temporarily traded with a lady to wave her rainbow flag around because her arms were tired.

 

If all that wasn’t enough, church on Sunday really did a number on me.

 

Worship made me sad because it was one of my old favorite worship songs, but I could hardly jump to my feet and sing hallelujah when I just complained about hypocrisy, right?  So I sat there and tapped my foot a little.  Thank Darwin that ended eventually.

 

The pastor started out by saying that this sermon was gonna be amazing and it would blow our minds.  I should add that I’ve been vaguely annoyed and amused at church lately on account of them doing a big sermon series on the building project.  “God will do this!  We trust in Him!  He is able! — all it takes is your money.”  So … what part of it does God do, again?

 

Which reminds me: as much as I like NPR, I get that same feeling when they do the pledge drives.  I mean, a reminder every hour or so would do the trick, you better not fucking cancel the afternoon’s episodes of “Prairie Home Companion” and “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me”, the bright shining happy places in my weekend, so you can go on and on about how great NPR programming is…

 

Sorry, I’m getting off the subject.

 

So the sermon Sunday was good advice: give away what you don’t need to help people meet their needs.  There were two twists: one, that the “extra” you have was given to you by God so you can give it away to someone who needs it; two, that when you give away your earthly goods, you’ll have rewards in Heaven.  How do we know?  We believe and have faith.

 

So we have guilt on one hand and bribery on the other.  Heaven– uhm, Denmark forbid we tell people that helping makes you feel better and that charity is good to practice for its own sake.  Plus, it’s tax-deductible.  But then again, I guess that doesn’t get people to give when we’re in a recession.

 

The point of the sermon was that the church doesn’t need a new building just because we are growing, we need a new building because that will enable us to do more good for the community, give more resources, provide more meeting space, etc.

 

So that wasn’t amazing in the slightest, and I can’t honestly say it was untrue, either.  But then there was a sort of drama presentation by members of the church sharing how the church had helped and healed them.  Drug addiction, divorce, child abuse, sexual abuse, sicknesses, failed suicide attempts, addictions…

 

It was powerful.  I bet they made a million that day.  Seriously.

 

And I made a connection between the pastor’s preaching of faith and belief and how all these people get saved.  It’s belief.  Not God, not Jesus’ sacrifice, it is belief– but not in the way that the pastor means when he says that God can’t work through disbelief.  When people believe that they can change their lives, that they can make their life worth living, that they can make the world a better place, then poof, they can.  When we believe in ourselves and in our goodness and our abilities, we are confident and good and able.  You don’t have to believe in fables and myths to change your life… just… change your life.  Belief in God does happen to be the most popular sort of belief that I see, however.

 

What does religion have that atheism doesn’t have?  Instant community, a proven track record, millions of followers, and billions of dollars.

 

This church helped my husband when I left Christianity. 

 

Who helped me?  Nobody. 

 

Hurray atheism.

 

What can we do about this?  How can atheism help people?  Religion (in America) serves so many people and meets so many needs that we would be fools to undermine it without fully understanding what religion does and how we can do it better.

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2 Responses to “Weekend notes on activism and church”

  1. Sisyphus Fragment Says:

    IMHO, the atheist community in America is pathetic. They say “Why do we need a community? Are we just going to gather and talk about nothing?” Those people don’t understand the importance of fellowship. It’s sad really.

    There needs to be a push of atheist communities in every town that has at least 2 atheists. The Atheist Community of Austin is a good example of how this should be handled. They have dinner meetings on every Thursday I think, and they run their own local TV show, all sorts of fellowship opportunities.

  2. notreallyalice Says:

    I agree. Anytime people agree on anything, especially when it’s something where we need to fight for a cause, should have a community and activism. Gay people only have one thing in common, people of color only have one thing in common, and atheists have one thing in common. We need to get our voices out there and many voices are louder and more compelling than one voice. It’s that simple.

    Plus, atheists have pretty awesome parties. We potluck like nobody’s business. I’m helping plan our local godless Solstice party.

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