Setback

Church-going Christians: Probably want to skip this one. Or maybe you are my target audience. It’s difficult to say.

Because the topic is endlessly fascinating to me, I have read John P. Meier’s A Marginal Jew series–the first four volumes–and I am anxiously awaiting the concluding fifth volume. I am also one book in to N.T. Wright’s New Testament and the People of God five volume series. These books center themselves on the question “What does the historical record say about Jesus of Nazareth?” I believe them to be intellectually honest, and I have found great comfort and value in them. As an added bonus, I am fairly confident that I understand who Jesus of Nazareth was and thought he was much better than before. So much so that I have recently begun to hunt for a church which I think I could stomach attending week to week.

You should see the looks on the generally elder crowd’s faces when I tell them I’ve been away for a decade. They are so thankful that I’ve returned. It’s a little hokey but feels good nonetheless. My biggest complaint about modern churches is their music selection. It’s horrible, just horrible. I have never sat next to a person who didn’t agree, either. Because I’m older and can only attempt this adventure with authenticity, I let a guy know that I missed the Baptist Hymnal of my youth. He tells me, “You’re in luck!” It seems there is a Sunday School type class that sings the old hymns because there are others like me. Another vote for opening my big mouth, I think.

Yesterday, however, I discovered I should just sit quiet from now on. While the packed room did sing one (1) traditional hymn, I was sure that before the hour’s end I would be the only one not grasping St. Peter’s welcoming hand at the pearly gates.

Social decorum demanding obedience as it does, I remained in the room.

Skipping to the end, what did the well-meaning old timers want to debate for the hour we had together? Whether there is such a thing as unpardonable sin–a sin which is so awful that even Jesus’ saving power can’t redeem the perpetrator’s soul. (Consensus – There might be one, but don’t worry you can’t commit it inadvertently.)

The only thought that occupied my mind for that hour was, “Who gives a shit?”

The sermon was pretty good at least.

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11 comments

  1. Sam

    I think the big baptist church across from Pizza Maker is what you would prefer in regards to music. They did the old hymns and traditional service for the big auditorium that the general population attends and then had an option for a more modern service in a smaller room. When I attended the traditional service it was almost identical to the childhood experience we had. What I would say in favor of Mom and Dad’s church is the baptist church sermon series was going over the ten commandments….so if you went there your whole life I think spiritual growth would be more of an independent venture. Legacy was much more forward thinking as far as incorporating new information and assuming you may have read the bible before attending that day. The music isn’t as traditional though.

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  2. Elliani

    It sure feels great to have shed my childhood religion along with the unnecessary shackles of guilt. Why you’d want to go back is beyond me. Leaving religion expands the mind to many beautiful truths/science that religions refuse to embrace. You said it perfectly, “who gives a shit.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pete Deakon

      The reasons to “go back” are twofold. First, there might be others like me that enjoy parts of it, but don’t chew and swallow all of it. And no matter what I believe in my heart of hearts, I am still a very traditional guy/family type. And churches are the easy place to meet others of a like mind. Second, H- needs to be in a program where memorization is valued. I don’t care what she’s memorizing, she just needs to be memorizing. Church is the only place I know of who has people who care to make kids memorize stuff. What am I missing? Where else can I take her?

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      • Tripp

        Perhaps you should “go back” to a temple instead of a church? The Jewish faith is far more traditional guy/family type (with centuries of extra tradition for you) full of people who are of like mind. It’s also the faith of Jesus of Nazareth and Saul of Tarsus (and who knows, maybe if you converted to Judaism you’d have your own vision on the road to Denver). Incidentally, I also recommend Zealot by Reza Aslan on Jesus of Nazareth. Finally, there’s no better place for memorization than Hebrew School!! There’s a whole language and the Torah itself to be memorized. Come to think of it, there’s another religion that does even more for children’s memorization than Christianity and Judaism combined…..

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        • Pete Deakon

          Tripp, you honor me in commenting here. Seriously. And point taken. I’ll add Zealot to the list. (Quick amazon perusal indicates it is along the same vein, though I’m not sure I’ll be able to give the author as much respect as these other two. We’ll see.) Another one I want to read is The Shadow of the Galilean. Heard of it?

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      • Tripp

        It’s the best age to start piano for sure – I hope she stays with it as it’s something you carry with you for life and something that can be both intensely personal and wonderful to share with others. I haven’t heard of the book you mentioned, but I’ll add it to my (extensive) non-law school related reading list for the winter break.

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  3. Alex

    Red Rocks Church. Not sure where to start; just go, you won’t regret it. I went to a baptist church when I first moved to Denver. Why? It was in my comfort zone. Hymnals and sermons that’ll have you sawing logs before you know it. Not RR. Copious amounts of attractive women, sermons that are a half hour/45 min max on topics you can actually relate to. Come with me ol’ chap, always welcome.

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    • Pete Deakon

      We approached Heritage Square back in the summer on a Sunday around noon. A plentiful stream of beautiful twenty-somethings in short dresses headed right for us. I naturally thought they were coming for me and shoved H- out of sight. Nope, Red Rocks Church had just let out and they were going to their cars. My biggest hesitancy is my integrity. I don’t know if I can really go to a church to meet women. Sounds easy, but I usually feel like a liar. Coming in second is the distance. I am hoping to find a community of people just down the street. Third, to just sit in the same room as a coed isn’t thrilling enough for me. Are these women outgoing and is there some forum where I can disarm one of them with my intellectual prowess? Not this Sunday, but maybe the following (one before Christmas) I’ll take you up on your offer. We can’t lose if George joins us.

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      • Young Wump

        You had me at “Copious amounts of attractive women”. Unlike Pete, I don’t feel the least bit of shame or guilt in going to church to meet women…isn’t that really the best way to spread the faith…wife up and have a family?

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