Eve’s First Day In Church

We attended the baptism of my friend’s son today. None of us were particularly enthusiastic about going, but it seemed to be really important to my friend (which surprised me, considering the fact that he’s an avowed agnostic).

The last time I was attended church was a Midnight Mass some four or five years ago*. My family was never Catholic, but my brother and I both attended Catholic school until college, so that’s the kind of church that I’m most familiar with.

This Catholic church was unlike any other that I had ever attended. Unlike the churches of my youth, which were predominantly white, this one had an entirely black choir and a 99% black congregation. The priest was white, but he was very much in the minority. There was one mural depicting a black Jesus as well as another one depicting a black Mary and Joseph holding a little brown baby. There were two different sets of the stations of the cross on the walls; one that had obviously been a part of the original architecture (white Jesus) and one that looked much newer (black Jesus). The stained glass windows all featured nothing but white saints and Jesuses and children.

It was pretty cool, actually, to be in a church with a fair representation of other-than-white religious figures. The vast majority of churches I have been in, including the ones with predominantly black congregations, only feature white Jesuses. It was a nice change.

Eve was about as well-behaved as a toddler can be in a room full of loud energetic strangers. I nursed her and she did everything she could to expose my entire breast to the whole church. She babbled loudly and asked for more cheerios (too bad we didn’t have any). She accidentally hit a stranger while flailing around in my brother’s arms. She did wonderfully, I think.

It being a baptism, the homily was about the responsibility of parents to raise their children to know God. I only half-listened, and did what I always do in church – marvel at the architecture. I tried not to think about what the people around me would say if they knew that Marcus and I were non-believers, and that were raising our daughter as one too.

All in all, it was an all right way to spend an early Sunday afternoon. The possibility of regularly attending a Unitarian Universalist church crossed my mind again; I do really love the community aspect of church attendance, even if I disagree vehemently with the dogma. I’m very much still building a village for my child, and even as an atheist I haven’t ruled out the possibility of adding the right congregation to that village.

*Edited to add: I just realized that the last time was actually when I was heavily pregnant with Eve; I attended my friend’s wedding, which was fascinating to me as I’d never seen a Catholic wedding service.

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4 Responses to “Eve’s First Day In Church”

  1. theroamingnaturalist Says:

    We have a UU church here and the pastor (or whatever they’re called) is a gay lady. It’s cool, but I’m still not convinced it’s remotely worth my time to trade fake nods and smiles and fake “Oh I believe that too” for a community. But, then, I’m completely and utterly jaded by nearly two straight decades of Roman Catholicism.

    • August Says:

      Oh goodness, no. I’m never gonna pretend to believe in anything for anybody. That’s the thing about UU churches. You can be a pagan, an atheist, or whatever. Doesn’t matter. From the UU website:

      Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religion that embraces theological diversity…While our congregations uphold shared principles, individual Unitarian Universalists may discern their own beliefs about theological issues. As there is no official Unitarian Universalist creed, Unitarian Universalists are free to search for truth on many paths.

      We welcome people who identify with and draw inspiration from Atheism and Agnosticism, Buddhism, Christianity, Humanism, Judaism, Paganism, and other religious or philosophical traditions.

      • theroamingnaturalist Says:

        Yeah, I bet the website of the Catholic Church says something about how they love everyone and accept all people, or some shit like that. I guess my issue is even in gathering inside of a church – I don’t think I’d have any interest at all.

        My taste for the local UU was pretty tainted at the TransActive workshop too. A woman asked why transgendered people can’t just be accepted, and the speaker made the point that, in part, religion was responsible for perpetuating yada yada. Anyway, the gay UU minister I mentioned rose her hand and made it a point to publicly cry out that she would not have answered the question that way because blaming religion takes the focus off the issue. The speaker felt terrible and was obviously kind of embarassed because the minister had misinterpreted what everyone ELSE heard to mean that mainstream christianity is seriously giving equal human rights issues a harder time than is necessary. Just because you live in a happy little church where gay is okay, doesn’t mean that there aren’t 1000 angry, hateful christians on TV and in the mainstream media. I felt that her comments would have been better left said in private and I imagine I’m not the only one that felt an immediate tension in the room. Take your “don’t blame religion” to the people that make us think that way, not the people that think that way.

        So, I get that I’m being pretty harsh and judgmental, but I don’t actually care. I’m so sick of self-righteous Western religious bullshit that even though this minister came highly recommended and some friends strongly encouraged me to attend her gatherings, now I couldn’t be less interested.

        That was a tangent and I apologize.

  2. Erika Says:

    UU churches vary widely from congregation to congregation. I’ve found one to attend with my children that feels like a great fit (and my partner and I consider ourselves non-believers, secular humanists, as does about 40% of the rest of the congregation). We’re looking for ways to learn about and understand ethical philosophies and moral values, without necessarily looking to a diety for that. It’s enriched our family life considerably, and my five-year-old loves her religious ed class. If you have time and energy for it, I recommend looking around at different UU congregations and seeing if they feel right to you.

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