Yes, I’m against organized religion. Yes, I think faith can be dangerous. Yes, I think churches tend to be flamboyant displays of silliness.
No, I don’t think a church should ever be defaced.
On April 24 – that is, on Easter – a bunch of unknown thugs took it upon themselves to spray graffiti and obscenities all over the local Christ the King Church and its statues. One of the messages reads “Your God Is Not My Salvation” … so I’m guessing that, unfortunately, it was an atheist that did this, or at the very least someone who wasn’t much impressed with what the church was preaching.
I’m all for freedom of speech. Disgusted with a church’s teachings? Make your voice heard. Go nuts. But remember: your rights end where someone else’s begin. And this is crossing that line in all kinds of bad ways.
Grow up, kids. You’re not helping. Every time an atheist does something like this, their actions outweigh much of the hard work we’ve done to promote our position.
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.
Recently, one of my coworkers lost her father after a long battle with a terminal illness. She took the last week off from work to grieve and deal with family business. Today, she came back to work, and one of my other coworkers passed around an envelope containing a sympathy card.
The catch? There was a note on the envelope asking for cash to be given in her father’s name as a gift to a local church.
Being the nonconfrontational person I am, I was a little irritated at first, but not enough to raise a stink about it. I simply signed the card with my condolences and an offer to lend her an ear if she needed someone to talk to, then passed the card off to the next person on the list. I considered the idea of asking her if there was anything else I could do in her father’s memory, but quickly dismissed the idea as (obviously) a little insensitive.
I’d like to make up for not chipping in on this gift, but I’m not quite sure what to do. Most of my coworkers are Catholic, and asking them for alternatives would almost certainly lead to an uncomfortable discussion about religion that I really don’t need to have in the middle of my workday. I’d talk to my parents, except that they seem to be confusing “I’m an atheist” with “I’m a nontraditional Christian who is struggling with his faith.” I figure my best bet is to toss the question out onto the web, and hope something comes up in the net: What could I do to honor her father’s memory without offending her and bringing up subjects that aren’t really appropriate for work?
On March 15, I visited Schenectady Church of Christ. I’ve been in a Church of Christ before; my longtime ex-girlfriend was born and raised in one, and we went together several times. For those of you not familiar with their theology: Read the Bible. Take it literally. That’s all there is to it. Continue reading
On March 8, I visited Niskayuna Wesleyan Church. This was my first time in a Wesleyan church, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.