Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Losing My Religion

Jesus Turning Water into Wine

I'm in search of a church. That's right, folks. I want to join a church...preferably here in Coronado.

I know, I know...when I was little, I hated going to church. My parents had to practically drag me to the car, kicking and screaming the entire time. It didn't help that this particular church was super hardcore, and basically outlawed drinking, smoking, and sex before marriage...you know, all the good stuff.

I knew from an early age that I wasn't cut out for that particular brand of Christianity. As soon as I tasted my first sip of wine, I knew that I was destined to be a wino, living a life of sin and moral ambiguity. As soon as I was able, I abandoned my church and continued to slide down the slippery slope of ungodliness (all be it, with a smile on my face.)

Good times. So why do I want to join a church now?

Well, when I was pregnant with Marley, I found myself...thinking about God. And starting to pray. Because I was scared! I was having a baby. What was I DOING? I didn't know how to be a mom. How could I possibly be entrusted to raise a child? I could barely take care of myself. And the whole pregnancy thing was just so unnerving! All those terrible prenatal tests...so many things to worry about. So many things could go wrong! I thought Marley was safe, snug in my belly...and then I find out there are a host of ailments that could occur in nine months to threaten a healthy pregnancy.

So I prayed. And praying made me...happy. It gave me a sense of calm and peace. It gave me comfort, the assurance that there was a higher power, that my fears and worries weren't my burden alone. I was GLAD that I'd gone to church then...GLAD that I knew some of these prayers and bible stories. If Daniel could survive the lion's den, if David could overcome Goliath, I could handle an 8 pound, 10 ounce bundle-of-joy, right?

I continue to pray every day, even if it's just to thank God for the sunshine, or my healthy family, or the dolphins I saw leap in the waves this morning. It helps me focus on all the positive, wonderful things I have in my life and keeps me grounded.

So now, I am determined to raise Marley (and soon Baby Holland) in a church. I really want to expose them to religion and God, and give them some basis...some framework...to work with. And if they follow my rebellious footsteps, so be it! At least they will know what they are rebelling against.

Trouble is...which church is right for my family? I wish there was a church called, "The Happy Church that Believes in God and Jesus but Doesn't Hate Gay People or Judge Others that Don't Embrace our Church." Alas, none exists.

But, after a brief search, I thought I'd found the perfect place. It's here on the island, and is populated (for the most part) by smiling, serene old people. There were a few young families with kids, and everyone seemed really nice. I felt a happy, calming sensation the first time I attended a service. Although I didn't really understand what the pastor was talking about, it certainly didn't offend me. It seemed positive, happy, and benign. Could this be the right church?

I came back the next week, and a few other times. Finally, I brought Marley to the Sunday School. She loved it! I was all set to join. (My husband, God bless him, doesn't care which church we join. As long as I don't make him go very often and I don't get in his face about it and he can still drink lots of beer.)

So, a week later, I found myself back in this church. (I had attended maybe 5 services so far.) I had noticed a trend...the services seemed to get a little more...forceful. Yet, I was okay with it.

This time, the pastor was out of town. The speaker was actually the head of the children's Sunday School. Great, I thought. This lady seems so nice! Now I'll get to see first-hand who will be shaping the minds of my young children.

She started off the sermon with a true/false quiz.

"True or false," she said. "For the most part, people are mainly good."

True, I thought to myself. This would be easy!

"True or false: it doesn't really matter what you believe, as long as you believe in a higher power and you are a good person."

True! I was nailing this.

The quiz continued in a similar fashion for a few more minutes...and then she gave us the correct answers.

FALSE. The answers were all FALSE.

Apparently, the world is NOT full of good people, and was in fact populated for the most part by BAD people. Didn't I watch the news?

And I guess it matters A LOT what your specific belief set is, because you won't be climbing the stairway to heaven unless you believe certain things...no matter HOW good of a person you are.

I was devastated. How f-cking depressing! It reminded me of an ex-boyfriend who was super smart yet SUPER NEGATIVE all the time, always viewing the world with an aura of pending doom. I had to break up with him, he made me so damn depressed.

Here, I thought I found the perfect church, and now my entire belief system was being challenged. But I knew I was right.

How can you think the world is made up of mostly bad people? Sure, the news is full of garbage and violence, but a bunch of happy people standing around and smiling does NOT a front-page story make. (Believe me, I know, I worked in news for years!)

And what about your day-to-day experience? Wouldn't you say that most of the people you encounter seem pretty good? Of course they aren't perfect, but if most of the people I encountered on a daily basis were f-cking as-holes, I wouldn't really want to be here!

I don't want my daughters raised thinking the world is populated with mostly bad people. I believe your experience is dictated by your mindset, and if you think the world is bad, your experience will be bad.

So. We didn't join that church.

There are a few more on the island I'd like to try, so hopefully I will find the right one. I know I won't agree with everything, and that's okay. And I'm aware that some of the beliefs mentioned above might be at the core of some pretty prominent religions, so I don't want to offend anyone here. It just wasn't my cup of tea.

But one thing I DO know...my God is a good God. He loves all his children and he knows the truth in our hearts. He is a source of strength when we are scared and light when we are filled with darkness. And so, I send you off with this bible verse...

The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. Ps 33:5
So there!


  1. Hi Christine, I enjoyed reading your post. While we were in San Diego, we went to Harbor Church. They have several sites around the San Diego area and we went to the Uptown site. It is a great church that really loves its community. Check it out..http://www.harboruptown.org/
    They meet Sunday nights. They might in the future have a site on Coronado but I don't think they do just yet. Hope this helps.

  2. Thanks Laura! I will put it on my list of prospective churches! :) :) Hope you are doing great!

  3. Christine,
    Well written and well said. I understand where you are coming from, even as a pastor for over 25 years. I wish you guys lived closer to Encinitas and could come to our church. I'd love to talk to you more about some of the issues you bring up, because believe it or not, there are actually good answers to those questions. You just need a pastor who can explain it all to you in a way you can wrap your mind around a little better. I think you'd be surprised at the answers.

    I'm on a series right now called, "Frequently avoided questions of the Christian faith" and I'm addressing some of those very topics. I podcast my sermons on our site and post my notes to my blog site if you ever want to hear it or read it.

    Keep on the search for a good church and make sure you find one that is Biblically based. Just remember that Christianity is much more about a relationship with Jesus then just a set of rules.

  4. Thanks Evan! I wish we lived closer to your church also! I will check out the podcasts. :) Hope you and the family are doing well.

  5. I wanted to add that Pastor Evan of Pacific View Baptist Church in Encinitas actually spoke about my blog post at his church...wow, I am so honored!

    You can hear that sermon here, dated 3/20/2011, "Are Christians the Morality Police?"

    He also addressed one of my questions, "Are people basically good?" from 3/27/20111. You can also listen to that sermon http://www.pacificviewbaptist.com/794141

    Thanks Evan for addressing some of my questions!

  6. My wife is going through similar feelings, but the church she has just started with (and baptised our daughter in), has not yet stepped over the edge in her book. Although the pastor delighted in the killing of bin laden, which is a paradox if you think about it.

    Losing one's religion may be bad. Then it may be an evolution to a higher plane. Consider this. Churches are run by people who interpret the bible, with guidance from other people (popes, head priests, etc) and publications. What makes their interpretations better than your's? In many respects, your children's morales and values will be developed from what you teach them in your own house. As for that "community" support, well that is a benefit of a church. But I suppose one can also get that from other places, granted with more effort required.

    Re. if people are good or bad, I believe compassion from empathy is mostly a genetic trait linked to intelligence; smarter folks realize the people they are looking at could easily be them someday and therefore deserve kindness and respect. There's wisdom in the golden rule. Most people are good in my book.

    Lastly, if you are still reading, I pray every day at dinner. It does indeed help me remember to be thankful and happy about what we have. However, I won't be praying when I am staring into the blue sky when I'm dieing. I believe (or hope) that I've made peace with the inevitable, and that in doing so, I've not involved the idea of heaven and hell, but rather my body being absorbed back into the earth to be part of other living things later.