Keeping my mouth shut about religion.

I once said to my former minister, “ever since you forced me to recognize religion wasn’t evil I’m a lot less prickly.”

Her response was, “I’m not sorry.”

I’m not sorry either, but it sure has made my life more interesting. It’s made me think a lot more deeply. It’s made me question stuff.

I talk about religion a lot. That, in and of itself, is not a new thing. What is a new thing is not being combative or mean spirited about it. It’s only within the last few years that I’ve started to be OK with religion again. And until I found a church I still wasn’t GOOD with religion, I just tolerated it. So when I say that I talked about it a lot, it was usually about how awful organized religion was; all the lives it ruined, how all religions were cults… I was angry.

And my friends, by and large, agreed with me. We could get some long rants going. Some LONG rants. Talk about preaching to the converted…

Lots of those friends were in my day to day life saw the kind of slow transformation from

“Uh.. I went to church.”

to

“I can’t hang out Sunday morning, I have church.”

to

“Hey, I’m helping a little with the stewardship campaign at my church, want to help me cut out a lot of little paper people?”

to

“Um, ok… I might be kinda thinking about ministry.”

They built up a tolerance to my religion talk. Sometimes they even engaged in it. They came to church a few times, especially if I was going to be speaking. They knew it was important to me.

Now that I’m in Boston it’s a little different. A few of my friends read my blog, but most of them don’t (most of my readership is actually not people I know, which is really odd). Most of my friends, unless they check my facebook, wouldn’t really know that I’m doing the church thing. I gotta say, I am not really helping myself out in that regard.

I’m keeping my mouth shut about religion.

I want to say that embarrassed isn’t the right word, but it’s actually exactly the way I’m feeling. I don’t want to admit how much this religion means to me, how I actually think that organized religion is a good thing, something that should be encouraged. Sure, I’m still against a lot of the ideals that other religions preach, but I definitely respect how passionately the followers feel about what they advocate. I’m scared, embarrassed, and hesitant to say that in front of these friends. It’s nervewracking to sit there and think, “crud, this person is totally going to judge me.”

I find myself making excuses for going to church.

“A friend invited me.”

“It’s a special service.”

“Eh, it’s something to do.”

“I am trying to build up a community.”

I never mention the W word, though.

Worship.

All those things I mentioned above? Those are all true. But they aren’t the reason I am going to church. I am going because I believe in the core values and principles and I like worshiping with people who have those same values.

I go to worship.

And I have no idea how to admit that. To stop making excuses to those friends who I have spent so many hours rallying against religion with in the past. Religion is responsible for murdering abortion providers! Religion is the reason gay marriage isn’t legal everywhere! Religion is the reason for everything bad, it seems. But religion is the reason for so much good, too.

I’m going to stop evading and lying.

Yes, I am going to church this Sunday.

And, yes, I will worship at that church.

And, yes, I plan to go the Sunday after that.

And, yes, I am considering ministry.

And, yes, I am proud of all of those things.

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10 Comments to “Keeping my mouth shut about religion.”

  1. For what it’s worth, I enjoy reading your blog. /especially/ the posts about religion. As a queer Catholic I envy your freedom to integrate the two parts of your life finally.

    Good Luck with the ministry thing. Are you studying in Boston?

    ~Caitlin

    • I finished my undergraduate degree last spring and I haven’t decided on whether I am going to move toward ordained ministry next or not. I am living in Boston and looking for work.

      Thank you for your kind comments.

  2. This has sparked a lot of thoughts, too much to winnow down for a comment- so I’ll just echo Caitlin: I really enjoy reading your blog. Keep it up!

  3. A few of my friends read my blog, but most of them don’t (most of my readership is actually not people I know, which is really odd).

    That’s the way internet works. Someone finds a little tidbit that they relate to in the words they read, and … they hang around. *shrugs*

    I came across your blog by actively searching out genderqueer blogs. Yours was the only one that was interesting. Didn’t mean to weird you out. 😦

  4. Much like Huushi, I found your blog—I can’t remember precisely how, anymore—and liked what I read, so I stuck around. (The first post of yours that I read was actually about boy words vs girl words vs the other words, can’t a’member them.) You have given me a LOT to think about, and even brought about a significant change in my thinking, and possibly my life—but let me start at the beginning…

    I am a cisgender woman, 22 years old. Although I am a certified “tomboy,” I am fortunate enough to never have felt uncomfortable with my sex, or felt it differed from my gender. I am embarrassed by that privilege, however, and I would love to help in whatever ways I can—but I find that I’m often paralyzed by my terror of doing something wrong, offending someone, bludgeoning and thrashing about like a bull in a china shop without any idea that I’ve just hurt anyone.

    However, I was curious about the UU you kept mentioning, and looked it up.
    This Sunday, I think I am going to attend the morning service of my local congregation, because it sounds like an organized religion that matches a LOT of my own personal principles and ideas. It sounds, if you will, practically ‘tailored’ for me.

    I was raised Christian (penecostal, to be precise), but never felt like I belonged in any church I ever attended. Penecosts generally tend to take the Bible literally, down to the letter, as real historical records. I asked too many questions (“If God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost are all one being, then how was Jesus able to experience life as a mortal man in order to forgive us our sins? Doesn’t that mean that God also experienced mortality?” “How can you say God loves each and every one of us if he is willing to cast sinners into the fiery pits of Hell, etc, etc, simply for believing differently?” “If God is omniscient, why did he intentionally set up Adam and Eve to fail? Being omniscient, he must have known they would not heed his order about the apple. If he really loved them…”) and so was forcibly escorted from the chapel, and in the hall it was made clear to me that I would never be welcomed back.

    That was when I was twelve years old.

    For the past five years, however, I have been pursuing answers to these questions, feeling a sort of ‘tug’ in my heart—a need for spiritual fulfillment, for a ‘connection’ to a higher power. Unitarian Universalism sounds as though it is a congregation where even my questions will be welcomed, as part of my own personal spiritual journey.

    Thank you so very much for opening my eyes—an internet stranger—to this new possibility. I am very excited about attending church this Sunday, and I hope I’ll finally find the fellowship I’m looking for.

  5. Hi, Kat! Thanks for reading and for your incredibly sweet comment. We have fairly similar religious upbringing stories it seems. When I was seven my mom married a guy who soon started attending an Assembly of God church. When I was 12 (shortly before my 13th birthday) the youth minister found out that I had come out as gay at school and I was taken to our pastors office. I may have called him a homophobic d*ckhead… I was a VERY classy 12 year old. Then I stormed out. I wasn’t exactly welcome after that.

    Finding Unitarian Universalism has really been a salvation for me. NOT that I was saved from eternal damnation, but I was saved from myself almost; from being bitter and angry. It’s taught me to, again, see the good in the world, both tapped and untapped, and it’s given me a place to grow from and to embrace the work of change from a different level than I ever had.

    Basically it’s all pretty awesome.

    I’m really glad that you’re going to go to church. Just two small words of warning – it’s the end of the church year. A lot of UU churches (as well as other denominations) go on break during the summer, so the services may be shorter, or lay led, or led by guest ministers, or possibly just be kind of wacky and include interpretive dance. So I encourage you to go more than once, even if after the first time you wanna run for the hills, screaming. Check out the website and see what the service is on – and just know that if it says “lay led” or “guest minister” or anything like that that you aren’t in for what a “normal” service at that church is like.

  6. Hi Andy,

    Thanks so much for taking the time to reply to my comment. I didn’t really expect you to, for one thing, so that was a very sweet thing for you to do, and for another, after reading deeper into your backlog of blog posts I felt that I had more to say to you. I might go so far as to say that we seem very similar in a lot of ways, and might have the serious potential to be friends!

    For one thing, you look a lot like I do, at least judging from your avatar. That was a bit of a shock. 😉

    More importantly, I’ve noticed that you had a life-changing experience in Phoenix with a UU church there. I actually live in Mesa, which you may or may not already know is a sort of suburb of Phoenix—the congregation I’m considering going to this Sunday is VUU, since it’s a lot closer to where I live than the church in Phoenix. However, since you seem to be an awesome person and you seemed to really like that church from what I’ve read, I’m willing to drive another hour or so to at least check it out, after I give VUU a chance. Just thought you might like to know what a small world it is!

    And thank you also for the words of warning. I tend to be very shy (when I’m not on the internet, at least; ‘online’ friends probably wouldn’t recognize me in real life, and vice versa)—online I’m outgoing and gregarious, in person I tend to be more reserved and don’t speak unless spoken to, things like that. My last church, which like you I really did like until they dumped me so to speak, was pretty big into the interpretive dance scene and I was actually a part of that group, so I’m one of those freaks who kind of sheepishly digs things like interpretive dance. 😉 Would you mind explaining, though, what a ‘lay led’ service is? I’m assuming it’s a sermon delivered by a parishioner rather than a professional minister, but assuming so often gets us into such trouble…

    Anyway, thank you very much for being so kind and thoughtful and willing to reach out to confused strangers on the internet who think you are made of at least ten different kinds of awesome. ♥

  7. Hey Kat! So I checked the website and my friend Carolina’s husband Jim is doing the service on Sunday. Jim’s a good guy, though we only met VERY briefly. And Carolina is fabulous. Would you like to e-introduce yourself to somebody there before you go the first time? I do have more than a couple of friends there. Let me know.

  8. Hey Andy! Again, thanks SO much for being willing to talk to an internet stranger, especially to this degree. 😉 Did I mention that you seem like you’re awesome?

    To answer your question, I would LOVE to be e-introduced to people beforehand—like I said I feel more comfortable expressing who I ‘really’ am (as much as anyone ever knows who they -really- are, heh) via the internet, since then I don’t have to deal with all the insecurities about how I look, my weight, my complete lack of any sort of fashion sense beyond ‘clothed’, etc etc… so yes, I would love to be put in touch with anyone there, and thank you so much for your offer! It would be a so much easier to meet people with “Yes, hi, I’m Kat from email/the blogosphere/IM/whatever” than to stand around shuffling and feeling awkward.

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