15 April 2007

What, me, a church lady?

Looking back at my last few posts, I realize I talk about church a lot. I hope that doesn't freak you out. It would freak ME out, if I were a reader.

I would be thinking, hey, Suebob seems pretty nice, what is SHE doing going to church?

I grew up prejudiced against church people. Yes, I grew up in an aggressively agnostic family.

People who went to church were looked upon as being somewhat defective, as if they were just simpletons or dupes or people who couldn't keep it together on their own, so they adopted God as a fall-back to cover up their own failings.

I know it may seem weird to those of you who grew up in religious families and who were taught that the "unchurched" were to be scorned and pitied.

But believe me, we weren't going to be scorned and pitied without doing some scorning back. We don't go down easy in my family.

I'm not joking. When I was about 20, I began dating a Catholic young man. I went over to his house, saw the crucifix on the wall, and almost fled. I thought "But he seemed so nice!" Obviously I had been mistaken. He wasn't nice, he was religious.

It took me a while to realize one could be both, because, until that point, I hadn't seen much evidence of that.

The first church I fell into was the one I still belong to. They hooked me in with their new age bookstore and kept me with the singing.

I don't think I would have stayed - strike that, I know I wouldn't have stayed - if they weren't liberal, gay-friendly, and not so much on the Bible.

Over the years, I have drifted in and out of my church. Some years more, some years less. But in my sect, there's no guilt about that. Or about anything else. If you show up, they love you. If you don't, they love you from afar.

Why did I get so involved this time and become a full-fledged Church Lady, someone who teaches Sunday school, brings snacks, and is secretary of the Board?

Is it because of an overweening need for the Lord in my life? No.

Is it because I am holier than others? No.

I had 2 good reasons for becoming a Church Lady.

1) I needed more people on my team. Joining my church expanded my family in a way. I feel like the people there are really pulling for me and I am doing the same for them. I feel like we are part of a web of caring and have a mutual, unspoken agreement to be there for each other.

2) I wanted to be of more service. Church is an instant outlet for that because they always need help. And helping gives me a happy feeling.

I hope you don't think I am a freak because I am a Church Lady. I can see where that judgement would come from, given that many religious people act like complete and total asshats a lot of the time.

But so do many other people, right?

All I can do to reassure you or the other people that question my involvement is to promise that I'm not judging you and won't try to persuade you to do anything you don't want to do.

I don't care if you're my religion or another religion or any religion at all. I think we are all ok in the sight of God (providing there is a God).

But if you ever want to show up on Sunday morning, I promise to save a cookie for you if it is my snack day.


Mir said...

I totally relate to this, Suebob! Many people are astounded to find out what an important part church plays in my life. Because... sometimes I swear! And I seem so... normal!

They also hooked me with the music. Where else can I sing in the choir? The PTA?

wordgirl said...

You're my kind of church lady, SueBob.

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah said...

I have to admit, I was kind of freaked out. And I was thinking "She seemed so cool at BlogHer". This post was kind of a relief.

meno said...

I am afraid of religious people too, most of the time. They look down their blessed noses at me, and sometimes they try to tell me i am going to hell and that i have no morals. Which is really not very nice.
But expanding your community with people who are not judgemental and are gay-friendly, there ain't nothin' wrong with that.
It is sad that you feel the need to explain to us that you are an active member of a church, but that you are still a good person.
Some religious people give religion a bad reputation. I'm happy that you don't.

Maggie said...

You know, I knew you were cool about religion and accepting everyone when I read your posts about being a pagan. And that you were so unapologetic about it. There was no hint of: 'but now I'm a god-fearing church lady and that was bad'. So yeah, church people like you are cool. (I used to be the uncool kind till I decided, at about 21, that I didn't want to be a church girl anymore, cause I like people. All of 'em.)

Skye said...

I think of you the same way I think of Anne Lamott. "I wouldn't have thought this person would be interested in church, but she is, and she's ok, so that must mean being interested in church is ok."

mothergoosemouse said...

Suebob, you already know that I'm not dissuaded by your church lady status. Frankly, I think your reasoning is much sounder than that of most church-going people, and I cannot quibble with it one bit.

MsLittlePea said...

It's good that you decided ON YOUR OWN to go to church whereas I was forced to go whether I wanted to or not growing. This is probably why I don't go at all anymore-although I consider myself a spiritual person. I never scorned those who weren't brought up in the church because they always seemed more at ease about themselves and free thinking. Religion or spirituality or none at all is a personal choice and doesn't freak me out at all. I'll admit I get freaked out by really hard-core self righteous, judgemental religious people but you've never struck me as one.

claire said...

but your church is soooo much different than what most people see church as. i know you told us once what kind of church it is....oh DUR, and now i can't remember what they're called. but it sounds an awful lot like the UUs we have here. i totally dig the UUs because they are so open and liberal and hardly a church-church (like my family's catholic church-church), yet still have the ritual and community-oriented ideals that are so welcoming.
if i had more time and was more of a joiner (you know, instead of a hermit) i would be at their church every sunday, too. :)
no shame in being your kind of church lady.

patches said...

In the southeast, tolerance and religion don't go hand in hand. It's good to know that there is still hope elsewhere.

Suzanne said...

I always thought you were a freak for other (good) reasons, and this post has not changed my opinion.

Lisa said...

I want to belong to the church YOU go to woman! Cause your type of religion sounds a-ok.

SUEB0B said...

Mir - maybe more organizations SHOULD start having singing. Hm....

WG - I appreciate that.

Sarah - See! I KNEW it.

Meno - I feel the same way. But like you, I am afraid of many religious people.

Maggie - I am still up for celebrating pagan holidays. They were the only truly meaningful holidays I ever had!

Skye- I am flushed with happiness at the thought of being in the same group with Anne Lamott.

MGM - that means a lot, coming from you, whose logic and reasoning power I respect so much.

Ms LittlePea - yes, I am glad my parents let us make our own choice. I don't think religion is for kids, really. Which is why when I am in charge at Sunday school, we spend the whole time playing with playdoh.

Claire - I love the UUs too. I love their focus on social justice. But I need more God in my religion, somehow.

Patches - that IS ironic, huh?

Suzanne - thank you. It takes one to know one. In a good way.

Alison said...

I'd much rather have you representing my church than any of the religious folks you typically see on TV.

I've been drafting a post in my head for about a year that's titled, "I'm not in it for the salvation," but I haven't found all the words yet. My reasons for attending church are the same as yours, plus one. I do feel a strong need for a connection to something larger than me, something that is a part of me outside of myself that I can only find at church.

The real problem is that church ladies like you don't get covered in the media, so a lot of people assume that everyone who goes to church is just like the self-righteous, fundamentalist whackos that they see on TV.

We need more church ladies like you to keep it real & get their voices heard & help balance out the whackos.

j a n said...

Connecting with people who are pulling for you, and being of more service to others - sounds like a pretty good definition of church to me. :-)

Meg said...

Nope, not freaked out. Thinkin' it's groovy. Church on!

thepaperdoll said...

i've been struggling with this for awhile. i was raised in the south in the church of course. i had no choice. i promptly abandoned religion as soon as i went off to college because there were just too many things "wrong" with it. and i could never find a home in a place that seemed so judgemental and unexcepting. but the older i get the more need i have for a family and some spiritual connection. i've tried the UU but like you i need a little more god. i wish i could find what you have down here in the south. it sounds like the perfect blend.

SUEB0B said...

Paperdoll - my denomination is Unity. Religious Science (not Christian Science) is pretty much the same idea - positive, no hell, Jesus as a wayshower more than a savior.

United Church of Christ is a very liberal, accepting traditional Christian church (they follow the liturgical year, celebrate communion, etc).

I have found Methodist churches that go either way. Some are way traditional, others very modern.

Good luck finding what you need.

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