I almost didn’t make it this week. My job has been keeping me busy late into the evening lately, though hopefully that’ll be ending soon. In any case, I missed out on both dinner and the video, but the small group chat more than made up for that bit of disappointment. Finally, we hit on a few meaty subjects!
Week #5 has come and gone, and I’m finding this Alpha Course significantly less interesting than the other one I went to…
Last week, I missed the course because I had to work late. I got a voice mail from my small group discussion leader, who expressed a sincere desire for me to come back. I think he might’ve been afraid that the wee bit of confrontation we had in week 2 scared me off. I’m made of sterner stuff than that, of course.
I just got back from my second week of my second Alpha Course, and boy… was tonight ever different than last week. Another nice dinner with friendly chitchat; another cheerful singalong; a somewhat insipid video; and a much more lively conversation than before. We had a new member of the group, and we lost a member, so it balanced out. But I’ll get to that soon enough – first, the video.
I was blogging about attending an Alpha Course. Then I upgraded my laptop’s hard drive, and lost a bunch of recordings in the process. Then I found a backup, but it’d already been months since I took the course… and it was a pain to try to remember everything we talked about.
So… I’m doing it again. But this time, I’ll be blogging each week immediately following the meeting.
Last week I talked about my first week in the Alpha Course. To simplify things this week, wherever I’m paraphrasing, I won’t use quotes; wherever I’m directly quoting from my recording, I’ll use them.
Again… these will be long. So, without further ado, this week I’ll move right on with…
I mentioned previously that I’d attended an Alpha Course, a series of short seminars intended to help new Christians learn more about [a particular strain of] Christian doctrine and give them reasons to believe. I’ve finally started going through my recordings and jotting down notes about the experience.
Dig in, kids; this one’s going to be long. I’ve got 13 pages of notes to summarize just for the first session.
Over the past few months, I’ve been a participant in a local Alpha course at a mini-megachurch in our area (i.e., a church with about 2,200 members). Alpha is a program aimed at arming Christians with a knowledge of the foundation and tenets of Christian belief. At least, that’s the intended goal; what I experienced was more along the lines of “a bunch of confused multi-denominational Christians who have no idea what the Bible actually says being forced to listen to hour-long lectures from a charming British pastor and engaging in discussions dominated by the course leader and an atheist (me) with more knowledge of Christian doctrine than anyone present.”
I was bored. So sue me.
I’ve been remiss in that I haven’t been blogging about this as it’s gone along, but I’ve got plenty of notes and recordings to review for when I finally do go about describing the experience. In any case, tomorrow night we’ll be having a dinner to wrap up the whole series. I wonder if they’ll be disappointed that I’m still unconvinced… not only that, but that I’m even more convinced than ever that the arguments for Christianity are useless. It just reminded me of all the reasons I started to lose my faith in the first place, and how utterly unsatisfying the apologetics really are.
Another atheist by the name of Stephen Butterfield has also attended an Alpha course and blogged about his experience. He went into great detail about both the subjects covered and the discussions he had; I highly recommend reading the whole series of posts if you’re interested in this sort of thing.