This entry was posted by on Thursday, 4 May, 2006 at

On Sundays I go to church.

I’ve found churches to go to while staying in San Francisco, Geneva, San Antonio, Washington D.C. and Paris. I’ve walked the mile and a half to church when my car battery was dead. I went to church in the morning the night after my mother died. I even went to church last Sunday after blowing off God, my blog, and everyone. It’s what I do.

I’ve been either physically sitting in church or at a church sponsored function without exception every Sunday since I started going. (That is, if you consider “spending Christmas with my family” a church sponsored function – which I do.)

In the absence of faith, there is legalism.

Over three years ago, I set out to try to answer the question, “Why do otherwise rational and intelligent people believe this absurd story?” I gradually immersed myself in the christian culture. I went to church with a genuine curiosity to understand what it was all about. I was doing this for several months before I was asked to work on a Sunday. At that point I had to take an official position. I decided then that I would never miss church for work. I was perfectly willing to work Sundays, just after I had been to church in the morning. At that time I did not consider it a “sin” to miss church, I just knew myself well enough that if I skipped church once for even a legitimate reason like work, it would only be that much easier to miss in the future. Often times I would get home from work very late Saturday night, and I just might rather sleep in. Then before long, I would only be going to church when I felt like it.

Of course, the longer I went, the more important it seemed to keep my “streak” going. I had another motive as well. There was a certain individual whom I would have liked very much to tell that I had been to church every single Sunday since the last time we had spoken. But that was a long time ago, and I have neither the expectation nor the inclination to ever speak to that person again.

After awhile, as I slowly got to know people, it became more and more common to go out for lunch after the sermon. Eventually it became part of the Sunday routine. By that point I was no longer going to church to learn, but (as my father has observed) for the community.

In recent days, that community has dwindled significantly. They obviously do not share my compulsion to never miss a sermon. I imagine that it is not a big deal to someone who has an actual relationship with the Lord.

It occurred to me not long ago that, in a way, I have more faith than those around me. Many people go to church because they have faith in God and believe in His promises. Me, I literally do not believe the Bible, but I go to church anyway, and I still have faith that something good will come of it. This is nonsense of course. For who ever said that blinder faith is greater faith?

I have been on the verge of walking away from all of this for as long as I can remember. What holds me back? As I said, three years ago I set out to answer, “Why do rational and intelligent people believe this absurd story?” Strictly speaking, I have not yet found an answer to that question.

More than one person has told me that I have been an encouragement to them. I am fascinated by that. If after years of searching, I never found what I was looking for and gave up, that must come as a challenge to their own faith. But if in times of doubt, they can look to me as one who is spilling over with doubt, yet I persist, they can be assured that their faith is not in vain.

Perhaps I give myself too much credit, but the point remains: is it really just a sort of mob mentality? Are we, in our doubts, looking to the faith of those around us, who in turn are finding their strength in us, none of us willing to admit that the emperor has no clothes?

I can hear the skeptics quickly agreeing that yes, that’s all it is. I myself am not so ready to accept that, especially when the stakes are so high.

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