28 October 2010
Day 215: The House of Dead Maids
On a similar note to yesterday's post, I very much hated going to church up until I actually had the choice of whether or not to go. In The House of Dead Maids, the main character, Tabby, first gets her chance to skip church and has this to say about it,
“The thought that I might choose – that I might go or not go as I pleased – awakened in me guilty relief.” Page 23.
I remember having similar feelings the first time I was given the option of not going to church. We didn't exactly go every week, but if our parents went, so did the kids and there was no arguing about it until we were well into our teenage years. By that time I started to get more involved in the church so it wasn't as big of a hassle to go except when the adults remembered they actually had a youth group and tried to foist a Religious Education program on us. These programs were usually too young or too old for us in terms of interest, content, and/or approach.
Eventually my mother, who was in the Air Force at the time, got stationed to Mississippi and I stopped going to church. We had the option of going to a church in Mobile, Alabama, which was only about 30 minutes away, but the thought of starting all over again to rebuild a youth group was overwhelming and I just didn't want to do it only to move away again for college in two years.
In college I went to church a couple of times once I got my car. I attended the Quaker church once or twice as it was conveniently located on campus. And I even tried going to church when I was on co-op. I kept hoping it would be a way to connect to people and not be so lonely during some of my loneliest times, but it seemed like the church people were only really interested in me because I was a young person and might pull more young people in. Little did they seem to realize that they needed to keep my attention first in order for that to happen. Instead of really doing that they asked me the same questions over and over at coffee hour and when they finished with those questions, rather than engaging me in real conversation, they passed me on to the next member.
I went back to church again when I started grad school, for more or less the same reason, and got more or less the same treatment. I'm sure if I had stuck with it, I might have developed relationships with these people and moved past the Form Questions, but I needed more than that, and I needed it quickly otherwise it was just no good.
Another problem I have with going to church is that I have no desire to sit through sermons that bore me to death. I can put up with a somewhat droll speaker if their content is interesting, I can even sit through a good oration about a boring topic, but droll and boring? Not gonna happen. I actually preferred some of the congregations that didn't have ministers, because it meant that the speaker would change based on who in the congregation wanted to give a sermon or present a topic that week. These were often more informative and varied and more likely to keep my attention than anything else.
I haven't gone to church since Easter. I went then mostly because it was one of my favorite services. Unitarians have so few rituals that I think we tend to be especially drawn to church when it's a special service. I would like to go back to church and actually get involved again. But I feel like I need to be part of a community to actually feel at home, I need a little more permanence to really make it worth the effort of getting to know a congregation's worth of people. I also need thought-provoking sermons that will be worth the effort of listening to them, otherwise it's just social hour and I can do that just about anywhere.
My review can be found on Goodreads.