Someone asked me the other day what my biggest pet peeve is. I didn’t have an answer at the time, because that’s the sort of question that requires some serious thought. But I have an answer now. I’m most irritated when people invite me to their church.
Let me be incredibly clear about one thing: I spent many years very attached to my church in Washington County. I was active in the congregation, I volunteered, I studied my Bible daily. But my relationship with my church, and the medley of other churches I’ve been to in my life are all the same. I tire quickly of people’s seemingly ridiculous prayers, the constant berating of entire groups of people (i.e., other religions), and the disjointed sensation I feel inside my somewhat atypically realistic and overly logical mind.
When someone invites me to their church, all I hear is “I think my way of life is better than yours, so come do mine because I’m right.”
When someone invites me to their church, I can’t help but think, ”If you really knew me like your God instructs you to do, you’d realize that just inviting me, me of all people, is not what I need at all in my life.” I would argue I could use a lot of things in my life, but sitting in a pew is not one of them.
When someone invites me to their church, I remember all those times sitting in church a few years ago (and sometimes in public now) where I hear the most ridiculous prayers. I can’t help but feel that when most people pray, they’re just ”wishing for things to be so”. For example, I distinctly remember hearing people openly pray, in a church, for weight loss. Moments before walking into a church pitch-in and eating a piece of cake. You can’t pray your way thin. You know what works? Eating a carrot and riding a bicycle. You don’t need to pray to do that.
I’ve heard people pray for a recovery from their lung cancer after a lifetime of smoking cigarettes and cigars. I’ve heard people proclaim their love for God because they survived a tornado, but don’t seem to make the connection that presumably that same God sent the tornado that tried to kill them. At least you could claim that tornados are the work of Satan, but that’d mean God has no control over the wind blowing over his own creation.
I’ve heard people pray for a quick commute, a raise, lower food prices and just last week I heard a group of young adults pray for ”protection from drama”. Also, everyone wants to win the lottery, a new car, and a pony. You’re praying to God, not Santa.
And my relationship with the Bible is that of a book of fairy tales. I can’t get behind the notion of a talking snake, virgin birth, or that the entire global population comes from two people. The Mormons believe the world started in Missouri of all places. Not to mention that if half the world believes in Allah and the other half in Jesus, then someone’s going to be gravely disappointed when they die. I feel like common sense dictates that everyone’s wrong about everything.
Going to your church will not change my mind. I’ve been there, I’ve done that in a deeply personal way. No, I will not go to your crummy church so I can listen to fairy tales, people’s incredibly selfish and materialistic wishes and to be told I’m a terrible person, or that some other group of people is the reason why the world is such a terrible place.
No, the world is a terrible place because of selfish self-centered people incapable of understanding that not everyone is like them and not everyone is capable of just throwing everything into the wind and saying, ”I don’t know why anything is anything — it must be because God!”
Please, stop asking me to go to your church. The answer is no. The answer will always be no.