The agnostics guide to going to church

Sandy Montgomery

I suppose many wonder why people like me actually go to church on Sunday.

I assure you it is not to feel rotten about yourself. There is a time during the service when you contemplate your short-comings, but immediately thereafter you resolve collectively to do better. Maybe you can become that wonderful person your dog seems to think you are !

You are encouraged to learn to accept others with their quirks.

You are asked to recognize that none of us is the cause of all the good we have had in our lives ; good fortune and others have played a big part.

You are asked to understand in your heart that every man is your brother and that we owe it to each other to help each other make it through the rough times.

You are encouraged to celebrate the joy of being alive. Many of us have at some time narrowly escaped death. We managed to dodge the bullet or it just grazed us. We were still alive the next day. What sublime joy in appreciating our good fortune in having been spared. Let us make the most of each extra day we have been given to live.

In church you learn to appreciate the truth of the last words spoken to Adam in the creation story : « Dust you are, to dust you shall return. »

You are asked to recognize injustice and to act.

You are asked to be open to the mysteries of life.

If you do try going to church, no one will insist on your believing that there is a supernatural puppet master who micro-manages the cosmos. The church is way past thinking that personal misfortune is « God’s Will ».

No one will tell you what you must believe. You can only come to believe as you learn for yourself. To paraphrase the Reverend Stan Irving, « Try as you might, there is always the possibility, for all your striving, that you will never experience God. That is not your fault, nor your shortcoming. Just be open to experiencing God in your life. »

You will find few who insist their religion is the route to salvation and that those from other religious traditions are mistaken or damned.

No one will be disturbed if you doubt that everything written in the Bible is factual. No one today will ask you to finance an expedition to find Noah’s ark. What is important is to understand the truth in a story, even if it is not factual.

In many churches you will find that the priest has often had a successful career in an unrelated field and then chosen to minister to the spirit. They are people like you and me.

You will find few in the church who insist that hell is the place where unrepentant scoundrels go when they die. Hell is in many places, as is heaven. For me, hell is being overwhelmed by the awful realization you have made a serious mess of your life and it is too late to do anything about it. Heaven is found in many places.

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