When somebody asks if I want to do something on Sunday my response is usually, “sure, I’m free after church. Any time after noon works.”
That’s because I go to church. I do not go to society, congregation, or association. I go to church.
I am starting to learn that a lot of people seem to have a problem with the word “church.” I know that the UU Church of MyCityHere is or was looking into becoming the UU Congregation of MyCityHere. I have heard the arguments as to why, but I don’t buy into them.
Because I go to church.
It’s a loaded word. A lot of people don’t like Church.
Church was mean to you in their childhood. It was boring and your parents forced you to play with Church and once it pushed you down on the playground and took your lunch money.
Or maybe you didn’t meet Church until high school, and Church was great and fun until Church didn’t want to be friends with you anymore because you told Church you were gay.
Some people came to know Church because a spouse or partner became friends with Church. And Church changed that person and made them not the awesome person you commitment-ceremonied. Maybe Church even got between you and your lover and took them away.
Possibly you’ve never even met Church personally, you just heard some pretty nasty things about Church from your friends or the internet. Church may have been kind of mean to a group you belong to, or maybe given money toward a law that you are just against in all kinds of ways. Or maybe you heard that Church abused people and that is clearly wrong.
My god, why would you want to hang out with Church? Church is terrible!
But I think most of the folks reading this blog know that that’s not true.
Because Church is not the problem here, things done in the NAME of church or the NAME of religion are the problem.
Why not reclaim church?
The idea of “reclaiming” language from what society has turned it into really works well for me. The segments of society that I place myself in or am placed in, by virtue of various aspects of my identity, don’t all have a super favorable outlook on Church. Church is far too stodgy and authoritarian for my hippie friends, it’s caused far too many problems for my queer friends, it carries too many yucky, boring memories of being dragged out of bed on Sunday for most recent high school graduates, and then there is that whole problem for my atheist, agnostic, or otherwise not-Christian friends of Church being the place where you Worship FatherSonNHolyGhost-God. Why would they go to church?
I don’t think the answer is to say, “You’re right, church is icky. Let’s call it something else.”
Let’s reclaim Church! Let’s make Church work for the purposes of good instead of evil and let’s make sure we tell people that Church is on our side! Church isn’t going to steal your lunch money or your lover or tell you who to love. Church will love and nourish you! It’s a pretty sweet deal. Church might make you be on a committee, though. Or cut out 150 3” tall silhouettes of people for a stewardship campaign. Or make bagels at 4am.
I didn’t say Church was perfect.