I have been avoiding writing this for many weeks now, but after just over a month, I’ll breach the subject. We have been going to church–yes, a Jesus church and everything. Those of you who are close friends of mine know that this is a HUGE deal…not because I have a problem with religion, but because of the qualms I have with (a) many of the denominations’ treatments of the Bible, (b) the general attitude of many denominations toward women and homosexuals, and (c) the attitudes of some religious people. To this day, my favorite bumper sticker reads:
So my hang-ups aren’t with religion, but with the human treatment (or bastardization) of the message of Jesus. All of that aside, we have been attending a local United Church of Christ (called United Church of Santa Fe) that came highly recommended by a good friend. Unlike any church I have ever been to, they are truly and genuinely accepting of everyone from all walks of life. Now, I don’t say “truly and genuinely” lightly, by any means. I know that some of you are thinking that other churches are this accepting, and some of them are. But please don’t confuse “truly and genuinely accepting” with “we will accept you and then pray for you so that you may change.” These are two completely different things, one of which is why I have resisted going to church for so many years.
Also unlike any other church I have attended, I not only look forward to going and hearing what the ministers have to say that day, but (and I have told many of you this) if they had services every day, I would move my entire schedule around so that I could attend. And yes, I actually pay attention to every word that comes out of their mouths (which also shouldn’t be confused with “I would drink the Kool-Aid if only they asked”). It is very apparent that there is scholarly research that goes into the creation of the sermons, and that, I can get behind.
I have heard them mention Islam, Buddhism, the Navajo religion, and multiple other non-Christian faiths, and not refer to people who practice these faiths as “going to hell.” They practice “creation care” in many forms, one of the most prevalent being through pressing environmental problems. They not only accept, but celebrate women, all races, and all sexual orientations…and for those of you playing the home game, that is what Jesus did. Of course I could mention how brilliant the choir director is as well (along with her musical choices), but that is the subject of a whole blog in itself, I’m sure (insert witty smiley face here with some kind of a tongue sticking out while saying “me likey whitachords”). All things considered, we have found a fantastic church that we love to attend as well as a bunch of great people go there (including, but not limited to, the choir and the ladies who lunch).
So what prompted this? First and foremost, living in the high desert. In a previous post, I said that just living here is a spiritual experience, and I still stand by that statement. There is nothing like walking out into the desert and just listening. Something about the near barren surroundings is conducive to a meditative state. That in combination with my recent emotional flooding (brought on by a program with the previously mentioned choir director) as well as esoteric conversation over a couple of beers pushed me in the direction of church. Well, nevermind how I got there. If I explain the whole route, you will need a Garmin just to get back to your own head.
The point is, we got there…and we’re not planning on leaving anytime soon.