I was trying out a new church Sunday, listening to a cookie cutter rock praise band playing the same top Christian hits, watching an interchangeable Evangelical pastor give a standard sermon, sitting amidst a carbon copy crowd that was an exact replica of the previous churches I’d visited.
I was counting the number of non-white faces in the crowd when it hit me: I was hate watching church. Not so much watching, I guess, as attending. I’ve was hate-attending church.
Ever hate watch t.v? Perhaps there’s a t.v. series that’s beyond horrible; bad writing (Ahem She’s Gotta Have It), implausible plot lines, Cameron Diaz level acting. But it’s so bad, or rather, you find it so awful, that it becomes fascinating. You can’t stop watching it. You watch it solely to revel in its badness. I wrote about hate watching the show Homeland. It’s weird to realize that’s how I feel about Church.
Maybe it’s knowing the voting patterns of my fellow Jesus lovers in the pews. How they overwhelmingly support men (always men) and policies that are anathema to the Gospel. Perhaps it’s the gross interweaving of Christianity with American nationalism and patriarchy. Or maybe it’s cause I can’t fathom how a group of folks who proclaim fierce love and allegiance to a God-who-so-loved-the-whole-world, don’t seem to love the non-Christian world all that much.
I long to ask my friends who still attend: are you happy there? Does the God that we love still meet you at this place that is so barren and desert-stale? Where is the living water cause I can’t find it here anymore.
I don’t ask these questions to shame or shock them. I ask because I’m desperate to feel something other than exhaustion and despair with the Church. I ask because I miss the church that was a sanctuary for most of my life. I ask because for me the Church has become the valley of dry bones and my soul is shouting: can these dead bones live?
I suspect that there is no way to get back to those old feelings again. That they have been placed lovingly (and permanently) into the overflowing boxes in the attic of memories. Perhaps hate attending church is me trying to figure out how to say goodbye to someone I once loved very much.