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What I've Learned Not Going to Church

It’s been about six months since I stepped foot inside of a church. It was a conscious decision I made. Two weeks in a row the priest had given an anger filled sermon, and I started questioning the value of having my experience of a high power filtered through such a lens.

So I decided to stop going. There were years in my twenties when I didn’t go to church, but that was the height of my drinking days and I really didn’t believe anything outside of myself existed. But I walked out of church earlier this year a believer, and I’m still one today.

I was thinking about what I’ve gotten out of these past six months. Besides, of course, a few extra hours of sleep. Now these ideas might not be true for everyone. And I’m not saying everyone should stop showing up on Sundays. I simply felt inspired to take a break. To question my routine. It was just made easier by the half truths I was hearing from the pulpit.

Without further ado, here are four things I've learned not going to church:

  1. God is everywhere.

This might be straight out of the Baltimore Catechism, but when I stopped going to see God Sunday morning at 10am, all of a sudden he or she or it was everywhere. At the pool. On my couch. On the trail through the woods. In that leaf that fell from the tree that no one in the world saw but me. God was no longer confined to an hour once a week. Everything has meaning if we allow it. Everything is a revelation if we see it.

2. Routine is not religion.

The moment church becomes a force of habit is the moment I’ve missed the point.

3. God doesn’t condemn. People do.

I’ve never heard a tree or a river or a stream say anything bad about anyone.

4. God is incomprehensible.

Of all the things I think I know, I think I know this one the most. This isn’t some new thought. St. Aquinas said it back in the 13th Century. But the human ego wants to to be certain, and it wants to exclude others from the certainty it has found. But not going to a place every week that makes claims on the creator has allowed me to appreciate the enormity of what that creator is. It also has me thinking that maybe the only sin is believing you understand it. That you are therefore free to speak on its behalf.


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