I’m serious. I wonder this every year, in the days before Easter.
The Catholic slog through Easter week is (in normal years) INTENSE for a church musician.
Penance service, planning meeting, choir practice, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the 3-hour-long Easter Vigil ordeal, and 3 or 4 services on Easter Sunday. I used to call it Oh Holy Hell Week.
In this time of Covid, it’s even more incomprehensible. Why do people torture themselves like this? Much less volunteer and constantly put money in the basket? — And – why oh why would anyone watch church services on YouTube? They’re overjoyed that they can “attend” in pajamas, sipping coffee, but they still require themselves to endure annoying sermons every week.
I’VE DONE IT MY WHOLE LIFE / MY PARENTS DID IT / IT’S FAMILIAR / IT’S WHAT I KNOW
I’m betting this answer is big. “It’s our family tradition, it’s our way, I don’t know anything else, my parents had it RIGHT, etc., etc.” You know that every practicing Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Sikh, Taoist, — and all of the many others — give the same answer. Ok. You choose to follow your tradition. If you have never questioned that tradition, how do you know what you believe and why you believe it? Why are you certain that you have it “right” and all of those others are wrong? Or do you believe that ALL religions are searching for god? 5,000 known religions and still absolutely no proof that a deity exists . . .
IT MAKES ME A BETTER PERSON
Church does? Gee, some of the most nasty monsters I have ever encountered have been preachers. All of the racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, self-absorbed, judgmental, sanctimonious people I have ever encountered have been xtians.
I have also met a few truly good people that are xtians. Of course, the sister of one of these said that “she came out of the womb that way”. This person just can’t stand the thought of someone being in pain or distress. She says she just has to do something to help. She also claims that she is not good, no human is good, and that we should follow Jesus’ example – which she, in her poor failure of a way, tries to do. It’s sad, because this is such a truly good human being that she makes me feel – ashamed – that I’m not more like her. It’s Christianity that makes her judge herself so harshly.
Obviously, if church attendance made true believers better people – there would be a LOT more people like her, and a lot less judgment and hatred. Instead, it seems to be 95% selfish and judgmental and 5% true empaths, so . . . I think we have to call that a colossal monumental failure.
And really, if someone truly wants to be a better person, they do the work to make themselves a better person. Just praying for God to fix them doesn’t work. Really. God doesn’t bop them on the head with a magic wand and “poof”, they’re fixed.
GOD IS SO GOOD! / GOD HELPS ME ALL OF THE TIME! / GOD HELPS ME FIND MY CAR KEYS AND KEEPS ME SAFE!
Oh, right. Here’s the selfish, entitled, I’M SPECIAL!!!! type of xtian. Usually they are teenagers, it’s a common phase. Some folks never grow out of it. Church is great, I see all my friends and sing songs and feel good about how special we are. Nobody else matters as long as I feel my Sky-Daddy is looking out for ME 24-7. (Xtian – “nuh UH! My church gives to the poor and I tithe so I give to the poor so I’ve done my part.”) Thank you for admitting that you see the All-Powerful, All-Knowing Creator of the Universe as your personal slave. Thank you for admitting that you don’t give a rat’s ass about anything that Jesus of Nazareth ever said. You don’t worship Jesus or God. You worship yourself. Go away.
IT’S REQUIRED TO GET TO HEAVEN / ESCAPE HELL / TO SEE MY PARENTS AGAIN
Ah, here is a sticking point. I have a number of very intelligent xtian friends that I would like to ask about their views of heaven and hell. I actually know the response of a few of them is that “Hell cannot exist – or if it does, it must be a place of learning, not of torture.” I like that, but it’s not Biblical. But they reject the validity of most of the Bible, so asking them what they believe and why would be fun. But asking them “If it was somehow proven that there is no afterlife, would you still go to church?” is something I cannot do. Why? Because every one of them is focused on a person – or a group of people – that they absolutely MUST be reunited with after death. When I ask any question that challenges the faith of these folks in any way, I get a pained, confused silence. The idea that __ might not be waiting for them is too horrible to contemplate. So they must go to church.
The concept of an afterlife, any variation, to me, is illogical and unworkable on so many levels that I probably should write a blog on that topic alone. But it seems to be the major driving force of a lot of my religious friends.
My Mother was so focused on getting into heaven/avoiding hell that she made it quite clear that she would do ANYTHING to guarantee that outcome. She once burned my leg with the tip of her clothes iron, saying “Just think. Hell is THAT. All over. Forever. The pain never stops.” Of course, she did forget about going to hell occasionally and have affairs with preachers. My brother and I were not surprised to be disowned when we told her we were gay. Her god forgave her for her sins, but talking to her homosexual children would be unforgivable. Woops, that’s probably another blog for another day.
I don’t get it. Except for maybe the afterlife bit. If somebody is really stuck on the fantasy.
A lot of my choir/musician friends say “I go for the music!”. Well, yes, a lot of decent choir pieces have been written so people can sing at god – maybe singing gets his attention. There are lots of community choirs, it doesn’t have to be in a church. Just sayin’. “All my friends are there!” So meet in a library. Or a gym. Or a bar. Lots more fun. Cheaper, too.
I see people giving away their money and time in this life, on a bet that there is something after death. It makes no sense to me.