today, on this day of matzo eating, I have a thought or two

Today is the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. We ate Matzos for breakfast. Enough said.

With yesterday being Passover, we felt some sort of compulsion to go to church. It was unfortunate because I was starting to be proud of my heathen streak. I think the last time I went to church was December 5th. With this trip to church and Jim’s attendance at some special services last week we have been having some church related thoughts:

1. We feel like we should have the kids in church. I don’t know if the motivation behind this thought is because we feel like it’s the thing to do? Or if we feel guilty because we aren’t going? Or because Eden, especially, enjoys going. My current theory is that we feel guilty for not having them in church and I wonder if I even want them exposed to the culture that is church? (see thought #3.)

2. If we go back to church, we’d actually have to find a church that we both like. This has proven to be no easy feat. I’ve got my list of things I want in a church and I think that Jim mostly agrees with them. But even so, agreeing on a church will be… difficult, if nothing else. But I think this all boils down to thought #3.

3. I don’t like church. I have been to churches that I liked; at least when I was there I liked them. But being at church last night sort of slammed a thought into my mind. I don’t like it. Life isn’t always about what we like. But, man, if I have to go, I want to like church. First, I think that I should say that I love God. A lot. But in my mind church does not equal God. And I wonder, is church what He intended it to be?

With church comes this whole Christian sub-culture full of politics and “hallelujah’s” and weeping and waving and judging and less-than-excellence and closed-thinking and religion without a Biblical base and insincerity and boredom. This sub-culture is practically it’s own political party. And I don’t belong in it. It’s not to say that the individual people who are involved are any of these things, I was sincere when I was part of it (yet I was also all of those things), but I speak about the group, the culture as a whole. I realize that something has changed in me and I just do not belong anymore. I feel like if I tried, I would be faking it. And I feel guilty for thinking any of this.

So I suppose that leads to the question, Can you still be a Christian but reject the sub-culture that comes with it? And if you reject the sub-culture, how do you find contentment at church? It seems terribly deluded to think that I could actually find a place that thinks the same as me? I suppose what I want is an un-church. And I suppose that it doesn’t exist.

4. I think I’m starting to realize that I was hurt worse than I thought by our last church experience. I need to work it out in my mind and get over it and let time heal the hurt. Sometimes these things don’t happen quickly, even when you want them to.

So where does this leave us? Not anywhere really. But at least we have some thoughts to mull over as we much our matzos.

Category: church/spiritual beliefs 21 comments »

21 Responses to “today, on this day of matzo eating, I have a thought or two”

  1. LeAnne

    I’ve told you what happened in my church, right? That when my ex and I separated that the fellowship group of moms and babies/toddlers that I belonged to totally turned their backs on me like I was infected or something. Then, the minister …well, ask me sometime if you want to chat about it. I could go on and on. I agree with you that I don’t want some organization telling me where to donate money and how and through whom. I want to teach my children what I believe, but NOT WHAT TO BELIEVE. They can decide for themselves after being exposed to many ideas, people, things. Such a hard topic.

  2. Tracy

    Wow, I have so much I want to say…maybe I should just email you = ) I agree with so many of your points. My husband is on staff at a church and we are going through all of the “churchisms” from music style to decorating the foyer! MY GOSH PEOPLE!! We are missing the point of this “relationship with God” thing! Some of people’s deepest hurts have been caused by “church people” I want to run as far away as I can to a “happy” church!! ha! I love people, I loving growing in my walk with God, I love studying the Bible and I have realized that my biggest growth and reliance on HIM comes through trials that I go through with the “church” folk! ha! Anyways, pray about it…think more about finding a church that you can offer your amazing talents! I think it’s clear in God’s Word that we are apart of a body. How do you feel about that…what the Bible says? Be part of the change! Sorr y for the rambling! You struck a cord = ) BTW….You are awesome!

  3. Jordan

    My Husband and I have dealt with the same kind of church questions (without the kids). I to had some ooey experiences with Church when I was in college and spent several years wondering if there was a place for me in that culture. We didn’t have a Church wedding (much to the shagrin of our respective grandparents), and have since decided to stop looking.

    Instead, we have decided to pull the rituals, customs and stories that we think are the most meaningful from various different faiths and celebrate them, without the structure of any one organized Church.

    While I miss the community of the Church in which I grew up, I don’t miss all the hypocracy and BS, and I don’t know that the community alone was worth all the other crap. I know how it feels to not really know where you belong, and it took me several years to get to place where I’m finally okay with it and don’t feel guilty. It’s a struggle, but you are taking it seriously, which means you’ll get to a good place with whatever you decide to do or not do. I hope you find something that works for you and helps you heal.

  4. Cindy

    Allison, of course you can still be a Christian and reject all the so-called Christianity today….you will probably be a BETTER Christian for it. In my life’s experience, some of the meaner and more cruel people I have known have been “wonderful Christian people.” Sorry – I just don’t buy it and I don’t need that kind of person in my life. Churches today are filled with hypocracy and mis-information. One of the most blatant of those? This ad I heard recently about a GJ church….”we study the Bible line by line… Sunday at 11….LOL….if you are laughing, you know what I am talking about.

  5. Jasmine

    On this topic of church I only have one thing to say: I suggest you read the book A New Kind of Christian by Brian Maclaren. It is amazing. He feels the way you do and he’s got interesting and deep stuff to say about it. It’s intense but it’s written as a novel so it’s a fairly easy read. It’s all about how Christian culture is not what it should be and how to live in the real worlkd and have a real faith. It’s just wow.

    On a lighter note: I just got my scarf in the mail and it’s amazing! I Love it! I’m wearing it right now. Thanks so much for organizing this and thanks to everyone else who participated. I love wearing other people’s handknitting. Such a good feeling. :)


  6. Dawn

    We’re struggling with a similar situation. I enjoy the community of my particular UU church. I’m not sure if it’s the right fit for all of my family, so I may be visiting others in the area soon to see how they differ. My personal opinion is that you don’t need a church to go to if you celebrate in your heart and home. :)

    My reason for going is purely social – I need to get out more, have more stimulating conversation, and find like minded individuals.

  7. Mama C-ta

    I am pretty anti organized religion but I believe in God, I love God and wish I could get over my hang ups w/chuches. But I don’t feel one has to go to church to be a Christian. Period.

  8. Sarah

    I’m glad that you can tell the difference between God and His followers. A lot of people have been hurt by those in the church and it causes them to give up on God and turn their back on him.

    My husband and I used to go to a conservative, “spirit-filled” church. We never really fit in, I suppose, but eventually we got tired of all the legalistic, group-think that went on. It’s like their way was the only way to be a Christian. The lively music just wasn’t worth it. :)

    So, now we go to a quiet, mainline Lutheran church. There’s a lot of activities going on that show an active community of believers, but no one is going to get in your face and tell you how to live your life (God bless the ELCA). Of course, that could be a function of living in Minnesota, too.

    The point is, I think “Church” should be there to encourage you, instruct you, lift you up, and keep you accountable for your growth in Christ-like love. It’s about living in community with other believers. Personally, I like the Quaker way of calling “church” going to “Meeting”. It makes you sound a little like an alcoholic, but it puts it all in to perspective–WE are the Church and we meet together in one body of believers.

    I don’t think much of the Lone-Ranger Do-it-yourself Christianity. I think that 2,000 of Christain tradition is against it. And I think we need each other very much.

  9. sarahgrace

    Ooh, ooh! I am going to have to come back and comment when I gather all my thoughts together on this one. Can you wait for a lifetime?
    ; )

  10. Tish

    I don’t blame you if you think I have no room to give you advice on this. I still care about your well-being(is that weird) enough to give you my two cents though. I was raised by a woman who loves Jesus and loves Christianity but never went to church after she left home. She believed, and I think this is true, that church is in the heart. Physical buildings are incidental. If you want to get rather esoteric you might want to read The Gospel of Saint Thomas. It’s considered part of the Gnostic Gospels and was never really included in any real version of the bible but is sometimes included in Apocrypha that are more thorough. It is short, “sayings” that have been attributed to Jesus. It has some stuff related to how he supposedly believed worship should take place, some of it contradicts the four gospels in the New Testament, some of it coincides. Whether you think it’s bunk or not, I do know this. If you are uncomfortable in a place of worship, worship will become more about the place and not about the joy of worship.
    Is that pompous enough of me?

  11. Annejelynn

    I don’t like going either – after trying to tactfully explain to my grandmothers why I consider myself a recovering mormon, who will never return to church, I finally threw my hands up and said hey, I don’t like going! okay?

    you can/will get over the hurt – if and when, it doesn’t mean you have to like it or go back or whatever

    most importantly, do what feels good and healthy for you ~

  12. Heidi

    What a hot topic!! I have also ran into the same thing, but… I guess what being a Christian means to me is differant than what it means to lots of other people. What I beleive the meaning of “Christian” is one who has accepted Christ as their personal savior and has a realtionship with him that is bound by the blood that he shed for us. He alone has saved us from our sinful ways and we must ask him for forgivness each and every day for the things that we do wrong. Now – I understand that people who go to “Church” beleieve that because they beleive in God and go to a church building, or are not Muslim, Catholic, Budhist , Hindu or otherwise that must mean they are Christians. Just because a person attends church, does not make them a Christian in my book. Jesus wants us to be like him, but we are human and must look past what others do just as he did/does. As far as a sub-culture – that is man made…We all judge but Jesus said “judge not lest you be judge” in other words dont judge others to hard, cuz that is how I will then judge you. I think He ment to be forgiving and gracious as He is to our short comings. If you truely seek HIs will for your life A – he will show it to you. Focus on Him and your walk with Him. Not on the less then perfect humans like ourselves! :)

  13. Merededeux

    I was always taught that Christians who are showy don’t do it for God but rather for the sake of other people’s attention. Quite honestly, the only real purpose I see for church is to learn (which you can do at home) and to join a group of people with common beliefs (which you can also do in places other than church). Personally, I would love to find a church that I feel comfortable in and my kids can, too, but I haven’t been able to find one that doesn’t nearly turn me off to religion entirely.

    One of the first things I think about when I think about you is your faith.

  14. Jill

    Wow. I’m like Sarah… that’s a lot to think about. I understand exactly what you mean but I think you have to look past all the “faults” of church because there’s faults in EVERY church I’ve been in including the one our family pastors- that’s just human nature. But I think the most important part is to be in a church that wants the power of God above all else. A church that is there to make sure you are spiritually fed in every area. Sure there’s going to be people who bother you, areas that offend you and things you would change if you could but that’s what we all go through. I have found that just being still and waiting on God is the best answer. It’s not any answer from Christians who’d love to sway you this way or that – it’s the right answer. He’ll help mold your heart in the way you desire and he’ll bring you to the right place to worship. He does have the perfect place for you Allie and only He can show you and tell you in your heart where that is.

  15. elizabeth

    i am so going to email you later about my thoughts on this. you’ve said so much about the way *i* feel about the issue, you have really made me think since i first read it yesterday.

    hugs :)

  16. karinajean

    you know, I am totally with you on a lot of your points. I think I pm’ed you a while ago and mentioned the looking around I’ve been doing – and I wanted to answer your question. I think you can be a Christian and reject the sub-culture. I know a lot of people are acting as Christians and are not part of the larger social-political subculture (like, the people at sojourners magazine, which has a webpage if you haven’t seen it, and a great weekly email).

    have you considered getting a group of people that you know together for a bible study/worship service/hymns? I know of many people who worship in their homes because they don’t have a local church community.

    I have a lot more to get into regarding kids and church, and my own path, but I don’t want to get into it too much in comments I’ll email you though, if that’s ok!


  17. Cher

    Wow! could this be the dawning of a new refreshing of what it means to follow Jesus or have Christ in one’s “heart” or serve God fully?”
    I ask this because I am 51 and have been “in the church” in one way or another since I was five days old. I am tired of churchiness. I am tired of “you have to belong to our group and do it our way” But, I am ready to belong SOMEWHERE. Boy howdy would I like to belong somewhere . And, I DO think it is important to find a Christian group for my teenagers to have a like minded socail life with. What to do? I just keep going through the next door God opens or revels to me.
    Yes, reading the Bible and study can all be done alone or in the family; and Yes, I believe everyone who follows Christ is a Christian and part of His “Church”, but, I long, still I long, for a few human, earthly, soulmates.

  18. Amy

    wow –
    I heard myself in all of that. I feel so much the same way. God is good but church is sortof guilt and judgement and the analyzing of words. I was driving by church one night, hadn’t been in ages, and was compelled to stop, go in, sit with my mother and worship.
    I learned nothing. The lesson was about how the word “bretheren” is an actual term in the Bible and it went on to analyze this.
    I want something real, with substance, where it’s ok to ask questions and wear jeans. Preferably one with services after noon =)
    My daughter goes to church with my mother, and I do worry about all the effects it may or may not have on her. But she loves her some sunday school!
    To me, it totally made me lose my faith in God and humanity, and my parents. I had a negative experience. But after all the judgment and aside conversations betting on how far I’d make it in life, I stuck true to myself and they have accepted who I am. And they all came to my wedding and they all cried when my husband (with long long hair) read his vows to me, wearing my white wedding dress, with our toddler in the front aisle. I refused to get married when I was pregnant. We were engaged months before we knew we were pregnant.
    I’m sorry to write a letter.. but I just soooo much relate to what you’re saying.
    I am intersted to see where this leads you.

  19. Rachylee

    I would have to agree with Jill! I believe the same. No one or no church is perfect – unfortunately. I believe we need to be grounded and rooted to where God leads us. But we are the only ones who can figure this out for ourselves or our families. Allie, I know God has an awesome home church for you guys and I look forward to the post for when you find it! Best wishes and payers!

  20. Rose

    I found myself in the same dilemma. My solution was that a group of close girlfriends and their families (some from my church and some not) got together for our own bible study. We bribe one of the older kids to ride herd on the wee ones, rotate whose house we have it at, and we don’t have to be afraid to discuss things that are out of doctrine, controversial, etc. We’ve kind of grown our own church -exciting, simple, spiritual. I feel closer to God than ever before. I believe that God took me out of the “regular” church because he wasn’t too keen on the crap either, lol.

  21. Hannah

    Hi!!! :D
    I just discovered you & I wish I could know you! (having the disadvantage of distance doesn’t help)
    I’m happy that you’re open to finding a church family—& I hope that it’s not the equivalent of enduring a root canal. It shouldn’t be. I’ve always told my friends that church is about you & God & if other things are motivating you to attend (guilt, boyfriend, music or the coffee bar), it is probably time for change. The one tool you need is a love barometer…if it’s not there & you can’t feel it & the community doesn’t get it, another church family needs you. Because I’m pretty sure Christ would care less about the color of the carpet. :)
    I’m looking forward to the new things you’ve got to post! <3

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