Sunday, October 22, 2006

Talk-Back Time!

Rating: SL

Yes, it's been a while. I am guilty of Blog Slackage. But really, this business of having to work for a living like everyone else in the world is really cramping my blog. Plus designing and teaching a new class, and working on the page proofs for the publication of "Put Your Finger Here," and writing a sermon (yes, boys and girls, there's a church out there that lets me loose in the pulpit--be afraid, be very afraid...), and, you know, occasionally doing laundry and bathing and generally trying to avoid coming home to find that my partner has put all my shit out in the driveway. Can I have a little cheese to go with this whine?

In and throughout all of that--maybe because of all of that--I find I have a fast-growing hankering in my queer heart to hear from you whom StatCounter swears are reading this. What I'm currently burning to know is this:

What is your best (or one pretty good) memory of organized religion? Define the terms however you like.

AND

What is your worst (or one pretty awful) memory of organized religion? Anything goes here. You don't have to defend or justify your experience. Just write.

As much or as little as you want to share about either, or both. A terse sentence apiece, or paragraphs of stream-of-consciousness sense-memories. Or anything in between. I'm really, really interested in this topic.

If for any reason you can't bring yourself to post a reply in the comments, I invite you to email me. Just click on the link in the Profile box in the right-hand sidebar. Your privacy will be respected.

Thanks. And big love going out to you all.


yours in the struggle,
Max

11 Comments:

At 1:55 PM, Blogger Blue Wren said...

My best experience with organized religion: As a lonely teen, I was “saved” and became a member of a Presbyterian congregation with a large youth group. Although I had a pretty plain voice, I could carry a tune, so I joined the youth choir. That was where I had my best times. I loved the practices, seeing my friends each week, loved how everyone worked together to blend and meld their voices, and loved the beauty of the result. There were a lot of cute boys to moon over, too. We were good. That still makes me smile.

My worst? Well, I didn’t have any truly bad experiences with organized religion. But I left it a few year later for a number of reasons. A major one was that the church insisted that I believe that Satan made dinosaur bones, fossils and the like just so archeologists would stumble on them, use them to refute the biblical creation story, and help o’ Beelzebub lead humankind away from God and down to eternal hellfire. Sheesh. It struck me as deeply childish and manipulative, really nothing more than a way to compel us to be part of the “group” of true believers and lock us in. About the same time, I also began to notice the social cliques that left many people out in the cold, the self-righteousness, the paternalism, the condescending attitudes and the hypocrisy of many of the church members who called themselves good Christians. They were behaving no better or worse than most people do, but pretended that they were better somehow because they’d “found Jesus.” Yuck. I didn’t like the way the church used and manipulated good people to benefit itself, and I sure got tired of feeling guilty for being human and being told I wasn’t being “good” enough, and just had to pray more and look harder for God’s lessons. In the end, it just seemed pretty self-defeating and dumb. Eventually I decided to get on with life on my own terms instead.

 
At 3:59 AM, Anonymous max said...

Wren--Thanks for this! and...uh...Satan invented dinosaur bones???? And here I thought Satan only invented pantyhose and E-Harmony...

 
At 10:21 AM, Blogger Swandive said...

Max,

Best: A two hour - hey I haven't been to church in over 10 years, and since you last saw me I have done all sorts of awwful things. Do you still love me? - cryfest 1999. The answer? A very loud resounding yes. They (my home congregation) still loved and remembered me and lo and behold, so did Jesus.

The worst:
I was moving from Mpls to Kansas City MO. I had been working for said church in previous answer. I knew that I wanted to remain faithful and find a church. Who knew that the one church I would find would be the ELCA hotbed of gay haters? My partner at the time and I went to church one Sunday, and the story could go on and on about how bad it was but I'll sum it up this way. I was a leper, and my partner - who clearly was a woman, was introduced to everyone in the coffee hour as "he, him, and his."
Not fun. I never went back, and it is a miracle that I found my way back to organized religion. Of course I found it in another denomination, and I went back begrudgingly. But once I got here - All I can say is: HOME.
Thank you Jesus.

 
At 4:09 PM, Anonymous Wil Robinson said...

Youth group in high school - if not for that, I would have really been in trouble (I still managed to cut school all the time and fail classes - but sometimes I actually cut school to visit my youth pastor. - seriously)

If not for him, my life would be very different. No longer a practicing Christian, I believe I received the best of the teachings of Jesus and have used those to my benefit. Hopefully, to the benefit of others, as well.

 
At 8:24 PM, Blogger Kirstin said...

Best: Sitting in the dark by myself at St. Mark's Cathedral, Seattle, during a youth event that I was staffing. I think I was 20. Knowing that God knew me.

Next-to-best: Youth events that were kind of like kid-Cursillos: lots of discussion, lots of music, little sleep.

Possibly even better-than-best: Nedi's consecration.

Another really-fabulous best: MC'ing at the Easter Vigil last year.

And another really-fabulous best: Learning how to talk! Preaching yesterday.

Worst: Sunday School when I was a kid, singing the same stupid song every week, not being allowed to be part of the adult time.

Worse than that: The encounter that you know about, between myself and a previous priest.

 
At 8:31 PM, Blogger Kirstin said...

Oh, about dinosaur bones? I was never taught to believe that--never even encountered such heresy until I started poking around right-wing message boards--but I have a children's book to show you. It showed up at the parish book sale last summer, in Seattle. We all were laughing so hard at it, that they gave it to me for free.

 
At 8:25 PM, Blogger Max Rainey said...

Thanks, everyone!
Will--I too had some terrific, as well as perfectly abominable, youth group experiences as a teenager. I never cut class to visit any kind of pastor; I only cut class to do appropriate things like imbibe mood-altering substances and go to the beach.
...OK, OK, I admit it, sometimes I cut class to finish a paper for English. What a loser.
OK, lurkers, jump in!

 
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