There I was, sitting in Church. I had already walked down the aisle, and cracked my stupid ‘pew pew’ joke (every time I go to Church I point at the seats and make the laser sound ‘pew pew pew’ and, yes, I’m aware of how rubbish that joke is). I was roughly two seconds away from cold lampin’ my bloody iPhone for its lack of crucial church 3G coverage when I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder.
It was a friendly chap by the name of Pablo Lillo. Pastor Pablo Lillo.
We had a slight history, but I was meeting him for the first time. The concept for Stuck in Church actually came from an email I’d sent to Pablo a couple of months back. I had the idea of writing about my situation, and had emailed Pablo – the Editor of The Record (a Seventh Day Adventist magazine that’s given away free at Churches Australia-wide) – pitching a regular column.
After a couple of emails back and forth, the trail had gone slightly cold so I decided to just go ahead and start my own blog on the topic and, to keep him updated, I emailed him the link.
And it turned out that he had read Stuck in Church. I was kinda surprised (a common theme as you’ll soon see). I half expected him to give me a hearty slap on the back and say ‘thank God I dodged that bullet’, but it turns out that he actually really enjoyed it. So much so that he had forwarded it to other members of his editorial team.
I sense I may be losing you guys here, so I’ll cut to the chase; the end result of said conversation is that I’ll be writing some sort of feature for ‘The Record’, probably about ‘Stuck in Church’, my situation, and my opinion of church from an Atheist/Agnostic/Whatever perspective.
But what surprised me about the whole conversation was this: when we talked about what kind of feature I could write, Pablo was pretty explicit that he didn’t want a po-faced puff piece on how awesome my Church experience was, or how lovely everyone was. On the contrary he almost demanded criticism – a fresh, honest view of Church from my non-Christian perspective.
So yes, I was surprised – but you know what? I really shouldn’t have been. Church, and my relationship with Christianity, has been consistently surprising me and defying my expectations from the very second I laid eyes on my wife.
One by one I’ve had to readjust every one my own half-baked assumptions about Christians and Christian faith. When I first rocked up to Church, I thought I could swagger in like Marlon Brando in The Wild One – hit up all those Christian squares with my craaaaazy ideas and change the world maaaaaan. I thought that Christians clung to darkness like a security blanket, stuck their fingers in their ears and yelled ‘lalalalalalalalalalaaa’ in the face of reason and logic.What a total wanker I was. The first time I tried to talk science with someone, I got totally smashed. Turns out they knew more about my point of view than I did.
It’s strange. I used to think belief in God was irrational – and maybe a smarter person could mount that argument – but in my experience most Christians have come to their beliefs through a rational process. They love to have their beliefs challenged – respectfully – and the hugely positive reaction my Christian friends have had towards this blog is proof of that.
When I started Stuck in Church I expected a bit of resistance – I have so many friends in the church. Almost all of my in-laws are practicing Christians, and I wondered if this was the right thing to do. Again, I should have known better. Once again my idiotic presumptions were gazumped.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that some Christian communities aren’t poisonous, and I’m not saying Church is perfect, I’m just saying that my experience, so far, has been a good one.
One of the (slightly pompous) goals I had for writing this blog was to bridge gaps, to write about what Christians and Atheists had in common, instead of what divides us. I think I’ve done that (although sometimes I’ve done the exact opposite) but no matter what I’ve written, what I’ve said, I’ve never been judged harshly by my friends in the Church.
Surprising? Yes. But you’d think I’d be used to it by now.
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