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, — 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? Do you believe that ALL religions are searching for god? 5,000 known religions and still absolutely no proof that a deity exists . . . yet you give hours of your time every week, and many complain about being bored or annoyed by the sermons. You still do it because it was something required when you were a child?
IT MAKES ME A BETTER PERSON
Church does? All of the racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, self-absorbed, judgmental, sanctimonious people I have ever encountered have been xtians. Sure, there are some good xtians that really care for others and try to live by the teachings of Jesus. (And you don’t even want to start with history – the Christian Church was possibly the most murderous organization ever to exist on this planet.)
Obviously, if church attendance automatically made true believers better people, they would have made a huge positive impact upon society. Prisons would not be packed, crime would be nearly non-existent, poverty would be eradicated, etc. Instead, the places ranked highest for crime usually have a xtian church on every corner. Contrast that with the crime statistics from primarily atheist countries (Hint: Iceland, Sweden, etc., almost no crime whatsoever) and that “better person” claim gets swatted hard.
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. Thank you for admitting that you see the All-Powerful, All-Knowing Creator of the Universe as your personal slave. 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. They reject the validity of most of the Bible. 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. If I make any statement that challenges the faith of these folks in any way, I get a pained, confused silence. The idea that x 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.
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.