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Is there anything like Church.... except without the whole God part???

clearlysuspectclearlysuspect Jacksonville, FloridaPosts: 2,124 ✭✭✭✭
I have a problem that I need help with.

I have started taking my wife and 1 year old daughter to church. We've been going to the Patuxent Presbyterian Church for about 2 months now and I think we all really enjoy it. I grew up in church as a pastor's son. In this particular church, I like the people there, they are all very kind and most seem pretty intelligent. I like the pastor and his weekly messages. All his sermons seem very universal, where even if you weren't religious at all you'd say to yourself, "That pretty much seems like a good idea." My daughter enjoys the nursery and it's a nice way to get her some rare interaction with other children and mommy and daddy some rare time away from the daughter. They have a very talented choir who sing delightfully every week with a song they have been practicing and I enjoy singing the hymns selected for the congregation. Best of all, I like that it gives my wife and I an opportunity to dress nice once week and dress our daughter in pretty little dresses. It's just a nice family outting.

So you're probably wondering, what exactly is the problem here? The problem is I'm not a Christian and I don't particularly believe in God, heaven or hell, and the general history of the church! My wife doesn't really buy into it either. We haven't been fake to anyone. No one has really asked either of us what we believe, and I don't believe in lying. So if anyone does ask, I'll definately be straight with them. But we do really enjoy going there.

So what other organizations offer all of this, minus the whole God part? Where else can we go on nice Sunday morning where we can dress nice, sing, interact with good upstanding members of our community, get about 3 hours of childcare, get the baby some good interaction with kids her age, contribute to good charities, discuss some good moralities and engage in good debate and conversation, all at the same place, and all for about $10 a week?

Comments

  • JCizzleJCizzle NYCPosts: 1,912 ✭✭
    Personally, I think most people go to church for similar reasons, although they might not state it explicitly. I think most people do it out of habit, or because they just feel like they should, not because they believe in talking snakes and virgin births, etc.

    Light 'em up.
  • beatnicbeatnic Posts: 4,133
    clearlysuspect:
    So what other organizations offer all of this, minus the whole God part? Where else can we go on nice Sunday morning where we can dress nice, sing, interact with good upstanding members of our community, get about 3 hours of childcare, get the baby some good interaction with kids her age, contribute to good charities, discuss some good moralities and engage in good debate and conversation, all at the same place, and all for about $10 a week?
    Exactly what part of the "God part" troubles you?
    By the way. It wasn't your idea to go to church in the first place.
  • Rob1110Rob1110 Posts: 1,455 ✭✭
    I was gonna suggest a local bar, but it might reach a bit more than $10 and may not be so kid friendly. Especially if she's a mean drunk. Nothing worse than a mean underage drunk.

    All joking aside, I'm not a religious person and never really have been but have always been the "whatever floats your boat" type. Honestly, though, that kind of brings up a good point that J already touched upon. I wasn't raised with religion being a strong presence in my life, never forced to go to church (though I was forced to receive all the catholic holy sacraments out of tradition), but the magic word here is tradition. Church has never been tradition for me but it has for you. Now you're raising your little girl and you want her to have some tradition of her own to remember and hold on to. Some sense of community, friendship, a moral base. For that, church doesn't sound like the worst option.

    I don't know all that much about your particular church but I know from a friend/co-worker who goes to a unitarian church, that there are churches out there that are very accepting of all walks of life and even all faiths. That it's just about the community and the bonds built, time spent together and moral lessons learned that really matters in the end. That's what makes us good people. Not which big guy in the sky we believe in, if any at all.
  • JCizzleJCizzle NYCPosts: 1,912 ✭✭
    For what it's worth, I used to work with a guy who had a kid unexpectedly (aren't they all? jk jk) and he is completely a-religious. Anyway, he found a secular organization that had a Sunday school and everything for children as well, it just had nothing to do with religion. Perhaps it might be something worth looking into.

    Cheers
    Light 'em up.
  • denniskingdennisking Posts: 3,703 ✭✭✭
    I have a deep faith and so for me, it's hard to think of it from your point of view because my faith is so much less about the Church experience and more about a daily relationship with God. I'm not perfect by any means and everyone is entitled to believe what they want to believe but for me, church is all about mingling with friends and having a common bond with like minded people while taking in a different point of view. If you like the friends you are making and you aren't offended with what's being said, I say stay there. It sounds like you are going to a pretty generic church in regard to the message you are hearing and if that works for you and your family, that's awesome. I can't really think of any other place that has that same type of feel to it. At the end of the day, the church is just a building, the faith is what makes it different. If you aren't bothered with what they are selling, enjoy the building and the people there.

    Pastor's kid huh, what type of church did he preach at?

  • ejenne87ejenne87 Posts: 1,925
    You might be able to find something on meetup.com. It's a pretty cool site where people can post time/date of events they are hosting, a description and all that. I've found a few pretty cool things to do around here but work seems to always get in the way. I'm sure in an area with a larger, more diverse population you will find all kinds of cool things going on.
  • xmacroxmacro Posts: 3,402
    JCizzle:
    Personally, I think most people go to church for similar reasons, although they might not state it explicitly. I think most people do it out of habit, or because they just feel like they should, not because they believe in talking snakes and virgin births, etc.

    Can't keep the snide comments out, huh?
  • rossdavey2rossdavey2 Posts: 979
    dennisking:
    I have a deep faith and so for me, it's hard to think of it from your point of view because my faith is so much less about the Church experience and more about a daily relationship with God. I'm not perfect by any means and everyone is entitled to believe what they want to believe but for me, church is all about mingling with friends and having a common bond with like minded people while taking in a different point of view. If you like the friends you are making and you aren't offended with what's being said, I say stay there. It sounds like you are going to a pretty generic church in regard to the message you are hearing and if that works for you and your family, that's awesome. I can't really think of any other place that has that same type of feel to it. At the end of the day, the church is just a building, the faith is what makes it different. If you aren't bothered with what they are selling, enjoy the building and the people there.

    Pastor's kid huh, what type of church did he preach at?

    +1 to this.
  • VulchorVulchor FloridaPosts: 4,826 ✭✭✭
    Suspect this has been the most interesting topic and questions on here in months, IMO. As I have said numerous times (when Im not joking) I am somewhere between my Catholic upbringing (see Sunday school, church on Sundays, lent, ect. here) and a complete atheist. My wife used to be a VERY active Church of Christ'er before I met her, until she got to what she jokingly refers to as "the age of reason" (about 32yoa for her). Now we have 2 little ones together and will talk often as to where to go.

    I am the catholic (or former catholic) wont settle for anything else, and her like most non Catholics dont want anything to do with the church. She wants it as a way for the kids to learn how to be patient and quiet and such as well as a few life lessons, and nothing to do with the religion side. While I still have the lifelong catholic guilt and feel I should cover my bases on the whole hell and heaven thing for their case just in case it isnt an invented piece of fiction.

    I also have been dealing with my father and his stage 4 cancer for a year now (which appears to now be getting worse, thats for another topic). Angels, heaven, ect. was always an easy out or explanation to kids about what happens after death or when something happens in life....feels odd that whenever that terrible time comes just to say basically---thats it, its over. Its what I think that I believe in my own head, but its kinda like killing off Santa in a way as well

    Sorry I hijacked the thread with no help really, but you are not alone my friend and the fact that you are doing something is more than what I am doing. Dont know if I will ever truly believe again...guilt if I dont, but a sense Im lying to the core of my being if I do. Best thing I could think of would be social clubs----VFW, Moose, Elks, ect. The trouble is some are religious, some are military based, many are excuses to get drunk, and just about all have people too old for your family to get what you are looking for...but maybe not? Thanks for the conversation and I hope this thread continues with some good chatter.
  • fla-gypsyfla-gypsy Posts: 3,024 ✭✭
    JCizzle:
    Personally, I think most people go to church for similar reasons, although they might not state it explicitly. I think most people do it out of habit, or because they just feel like they should, not because they believe in talking snakes and virgin births, etc.

    Totally out of bounds and uncalled for IMO
  • VulchorVulchor FloridaPosts: 4,826 ✭✭✭
    I dont see the problem with Cizzles comments. He voiced why he believes people go to church, whats wrong with that? There are churches with snakes, and certainly virgin births as tenets of religion. Additionally, to doubt that a GREAT DEAL of people go strictly out of habit would be very naive. No problem with what he said and he did not attack anyone or anyones beliefs, just why he thinks they go as opposed to why many think they do.
  • Amos_UmwhatAmos_Umwhat West TNPosts: 5,586 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Very interesting question. I don't exactly have an answer, but may be able to provide some help to make it all more palatable for you.

    I have the opposite problem from you, I know that there is God, not so sure about heaven or hell, and don't believe in Church. I think we may share this in common, as you say you don't believe in the "general history of the church", which is pretty gruesome if you spend much time studying it. Seems that western organized religion has been pretty much a history of maintaining the greatest possible level of ignorance for its adherents, especially at the lay-person level.

    I think I was about 8 years old, sitting in the pew at the Bay Ridge Methodist Church in Brooklyn, listening and reading the words of Jesus, when it struck me: they're not reading this right, he's saying that any of us (females included) can be the "Son's of God!" I then spent a lot of time feeling blasphemous and guilty, you know, Religious, and by my teen years was pretty sure of my Atheism.

    Well, on to the point. I won't go into the complex progression of philosophy and events that led to my believing again, for which you may all breathe a sigh of relief and give thanks, but I'd like to suggest a book for you, Phil, as I see in your words much of what I have felt. The book is: The Pagan Christ, is blind faith killing Christianity?, by Tom Harpur. The publisher is Walker & Company, www.walkerbooks.com , and I think you'll find it very interesting. Basically, it allows one to go to church, hear and understand the Word as it was meant to be understood, and you don't have to check your brain at the door. A deeper understanding that doesn't conflict with existential reality.

    There are a couple of other books that are particularly interesting and shed a great deal of light on much that has been darkened by Church dogma over the years, PM me if you're interested in those. As to a working answer to your original question, well, Good Question! There are very few other opportunities for this kind of fellowship in our society. Hope this helps.
    WARNING:  The above post may contain thoughts or ideas known to the State of Caliphornia to cause seething rage, confusion, distemper, nausea, perspiration, sphincter release, or cranial implosion to persons who implicitly trust only one news source, or find themselves at either the left or right political extreme.  Proceed at your own risk.  

    "There is nothing so in need of reforming as someone else's bad habits."   Mark Twain
  • jlmartajlmarta 50 miles from ParadisePosts: 7,593 ✭✭✭✭✭
    If you're looking for a wholesome atmosphere without any of the 'churchy' stuff (except for an occasional invocation or such) and where there is socializing available and you can dress up however nicely you want, I suggest you look into a fraternal order such as the Moose Lodge or the Elks Lodge.

    I belong to both and can tell you, for example, that the Moose lodge has what they call family centers where they offer something for the whole family. The Elks lodge is also good but in the area where I live I don't think they offer so much for kids. Anyway, you might look into a lodge affiliation of some sort.

    Marty

  • HeavyHeavy Posts: 1,591 ✭✭✭
    Vulchor:
    I dont see the problem with Cizzles comments. He voiced why he believes people go to church, whats wrong with that? There are churches with snakes, and certainly virgin births as tenets of religion. Additionally, to doubt that a GREAT DEAL of people go strictly out of habit would be very naive. No problem with what he said and he did not attack anyone or anyones beliefs, just why he thinks they go as opposed to why many think they do.
    Yeah, I don't get it either. Talking snakes (well, one talking snake) and a virgin birth are not only in the bible, they're pretty key elements. JCizzle is saying people still go to church but don't really believe these types of things, right? Where's the problem?
  • VulchorVulchor FloridaPosts: 4,826 ✭✭✭
    Damn you Marty----I suggested this already......wait a minute, this may not be the thead for damnation talk, lok.........Joking aside Marty and I (if I may toot our horns) I think are on to something, again especiallly if you can kind a club with young people with kids. There is a local one by me that I go to occasionally. Granted, I usually go for the cheap booze and kararokee part of it----but there is much more than that.
  • dowjr1dowjr1 Posts: 600
    I am in agreement about JCizzle's comments being completely fine. That is his opinion and I did not perceive them as being insulting in any way to anyone as (previously mentioned) snakes and virgin births are pretty common/basic themes in Christianity. As for the actual subject of the thread, I don't see any problem with continuing to go to church when you are enjoying the time with your family and other churchgoers. In fact, I would bet they would want you there even knowing your thoughts and beliefs.
  • beatnicbeatnic Posts: 4,133
    Cogito ergo sum
    English: I think, therefore I am!
    Ren
  • jlmartajlmarta 50 miles from ParadisePosts: 7,593 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Vulchor:
    Damn you Marty----I suggested this already......wait a minute, this may not be the thead for damnation talk, lok.........Joking aside Marty and I (if I may toot our horns) I think are on to something, again especiallly if you can kind a club with young people with kids. There is a local one by me that I go to occasionally. Granted, I usually go for the cheap booze and kararokee part of it----but there is much more than that.


    OOoppsie! You're right. I missed it. Sorry, my man. Didn't mean to horn in on your idea. You 'splained it better than I did, anyway. My wife &I joined our local Moose lodge primarily for the dinner-dances but, since it's also a family center, it does offer things for kids - although not so much in the way of day-care or things for one-year-olds.

    Marty

  • VulchorVulchor FloridaPosts: 4,826 ✭✭✭
    No worried Marty, just kidding with ya man. I know the Moose where I live does a helluva BBQ a few times a year too.....yummmm
  • clearlysuspectclearlysuspect Jacksonville, FloridaPosts: 2,124 ✭✭✭✭
    To answer a few questions. Dennis, my father was a pastor in the Virgninia Church of God which is a Pentacostal church. They believe heavily in speaking in tongues and being filled with the holy ghost and things like this. I went through the motions in my youth and did sincerely give it a shot in my middle teens, but this form of worship was just never my cup of tea. My father was a very forgiving and tolerant person and taught me that all forms of religion should be respected, but also taught me that everyone who hasn't accepted Christ as their savior is going to hell. Once I found out just how few Christians there are in the world compared to other religions, this just didn't sit well with me so I went on a very long voyage of studying all the other worlds religions and cultures. This was a favorite area of study for me for a very long time. My studies led me further and further away from a centralized deity and a centralized religion to just building my own belief structure, picking and choosing what I felt best about each religion in much the same way that Bruce Lee picked what he felt best about each form of martial arts.

    I won't go into great detail on the things I found to be true and the things I found to be untrue. I'm not trying to start any form of debate because I am very happy and truly at peace with what I believe and I am truly happy for anyone else who is happy with their belief. There was a time in my life when I was so extremely well versed in the Bible and just about every other religious text in the world and I had a lot of hate and anger in my heart that one of my favorite things to do was to tear down the belief structures of people who pissed me off. If there is a such thing as sin and a need for forgiveness, I believe this was my greatest of both.

    I imagine I will take Dennis' advice and continue going to the church. It brings my family together and we have fun with it. We've made a few friends there and they enjoy seeing us as well. A friend and coworker, and strict aetheist who hates religion, criticized me for going and my response was, "You can call me Constantine if you want but at least my kingdom is united."

    Thanks to everyone who commented. I think I will also look into some fraternal orders and perhaps consider forming an organization of my own that fits this type of criteria and see how that goes.

    This brings me to another question. If I were to form an organization that was very similar to church without the god aspect, what do you think should be the pillars of the organization?
  • beatnicbeatnic Posts: 4,133
    To answer your original question:
    So what other organizations offer all of this, minus the whole God part?
    You know the answer.
  • clearlysuspectclearlysuspect Jacksonville, FloridaPosts: 2,124 ✭✭✭✭
    beatnic:
    To answer your original question:
    So what other organizations offer all of this, minus the whole God part?
    You know the answer.
    Beatnic, I get what you're trying to say and I appreciate your deep sense of spirituality, but I do not know the answer to this and I don't think you do either because I certainly have never sought out an organization of this sort before and based on your apparent sense of deep faith I doubt that you have either. With my organizational skills, don't be surprised to see it formed if it doesn't already exist.
  • beatnicbeatnic Posts: 4,133
    We're all cosmic voyagers trying to share the love. I commend you for putting it out on this forum.
    For the record: Born and raised Catholic with a Capital C. - Transcendental Meditation, Buddhism, Non-religious, Atheist (with a capital A), Catholic (while raising son-{what a hypocrite}), non-practicing, philosopher,. etc.............Now I get my religion on twitter and Ccom forums. Its all about sharing love.
    Peace Brother.
  • denniskingdennisking Posts: 3,703 ✭✭✭
    clearlysuspect:
    To answer a few questions. Dennis, my father was a pastor in the Virgninia Church of God which is a Pentacostal church. They believe heavily in speaking in tongues and being filled with the holy ghost and things like this. I went through the motions in my youth and did sincerely give it a shot in my middle teens, but this form of worship was just never my cup of tea. My father was a very forgiving and tolerant person and taught me that all forms of religion should be respected, but also taught me that everyone who hasn't accepted Christ as their savior is going to hell. Once I found out just how few Christians there are in the world compared to other religions, this just didn't sit well with me so I went on a very long voyage of studying all the other worlds religions and cultures. This was a favorite area of study for me for a very long time. My studies led me further and further away from a centralized deity and a centralized religion to just building my own belief structure, picking and choosing what I felt best about each religion in much the same way that Bruce Lee picked what he felt best about each form of martial arts.

    I won't go into great detail on the things I found to be true and the things I found to be untrue. I'm not trying to start any form of debate because I am very happy and truly at peace with what I believe and I am truly happy for anyone else who is happy with their belief. There was a time in my life when I was so extremely well versed in the Bible and just about every other religious text in the world and I had a lot of hate and anger in my heart that one of my favorite things to do was to tear down the belief structures of people who pissed me off. If there is a such thing as sin and a need for forgiveness, I believe this was my greatest of both.

    I imagine I will take Dennis' advice and continue going to the church. It brings my family together and we have fun with it. We've made a few friends there and they enjoy seeing us as well. A friend and coworker, and strict aetheist who hates religion, criticized me for going and my response was, "You can call me Constantine if you want but at least my kingdom is united."

    Thanks to everyone who commented. I think I will also look into some fraternal orders and perhaps consider forming an organization of my own that fits this type of criteria and see how that goes.

    This brings me to another question. If I were to form an organization that was very similar to church without the god aspect, what do you think should be the pillars of the organization?
    Pentecostal is tough for a lot of people to stomach, let alone understand because of the whole Holy Spirit thing when it comes to speaking in tongues and such. I've seen it first hand and it never bothered me. I think that everyone goes thru this journey in some fashion and finds a place to settle at some point. I think that if this church gives you what you are looking for, than stay with it. Who knows, maybe you find something that was lacking the first time around. One thing to remember is that people are not faultless and even in this setting, they are still only human. That means that when one person or a group screw up, like we all do, you shouldn't jump directly to the whole "Christians are hypocrites" thing. Yes, some are, but most just make mistakes like anyone else. If we were perfect, you'd worship yourself.
  • clearlysuspectclearlysuspect Jacksonville, FloridaPosts: 2,124 ✭✭✭✭
    dennisking:
    One thing to remember is that people are not faultless and even in this setting, they are still only human. That means that when one person or a group screw up, like we all do, you shouldn't jump directly to the whole "Christians are hypocrites" thing. Yes, some are, but most just make mistakes like anyone else. If we were perfect, you'd worship yourself.
    Yeah. I can't stand when people do that. I think it's funny how many people I meet who won't judge one cigar without smoking a few, just in case they got a bad stick, but will judge an entire group of people based on a couple they've met. I try to take this approach with everyone though. The same can be said about just about any group of people. As long as you don't support Sharia Law (see Libya post...) I'm probably not going to judge you at all.
  • JCizzleJCizzle NYCPosts: 1,912 ✭✭
    fla-gypsy:
    JCizzle:
    Personally, I think most people go to church for similar reasons, although they might not state it explicitly. I think most people do it out of habit, or because they just feel like they should, not because they believe in talking snakes and virgin births, etc.

    Totally out of bounds and uncalled for IMO
    I wasn't trying to be snide or out of bounds. I picked those two beliefs arbitrarily, I could have picked any other beliefs as an example, it's all the same to me. My main point was that people go to church out of habit or for social reasons, not so much because they have a literal belief in whatever their holy book might be.

    Light 'em up.
  • JdoraisJdorais Posts: 653
    Clearly, you should check out Religious Science (not Scientology or christian science) or Unity.
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