Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Church Language - Introduction

I live in perpetual fear that someone is going to ask me where or with what frequency I've been going to church lately. The answer -- "eh, nowhere, really" -- isn't the scary part so much as figuring out how to respond to the inevitable follow-up: "Why not?" The core of my religious convictions, the part that lends itself toward attending an Evangelical church, hasn't changed, but something about the thought of attending a church -- of even finding a church to attend -- fills me with a palpable dread. And hey, since I just outed myself to the entire freaking internet, I think I'm going to try and think through where that feeling comes from.

So, the plan is to spend a few posts reflecting on the language I've encountered at the churches I've attended and see where the hostility originates and whether it's real or all in my head. Some things I'd like to cover include:

Expectations - Statements and questions that reflect an expected way of doing things, the most common of which is the "When are you getting married/having kids?" series.

Divisive language - Situations in which an "Us vs Them" mentality is expressed/encouraged. Pretty much any time politics are mentioned.

Falsehoods and damn lies - I once listened to a dude go on a 30 minute tirade against gay people using all of these made up sounding statistics about their sexual proclivities. He did not cite a source. This may be bundled with divisive language.

Control - I may need to save this for last because it can be a part of anything people say. The sad fact is that some people just want to control what other people think.

These and pretty much anything else I can think of, or anything that may come up in the comments.


  1. I give you credit for going here. I'm very curious to see how this subject develops on your blog as it seems we share a lot of the same concerns.

  2. It seems we have a common feeling in disillusionment with our church experiences.

    After writing about my own experiences with church, I had a few people ask about where I am now and where I'm going to church. I pretty much came up with the same feeling. I can answer the questions for the most part, but I'm not ready for all the follow up questions.

    The church my husband and I formerly attended closed its doors after running out of money. When we went to the place where most of our friends had migrated, I felt that same palpable dread barrelling back in. It was sort of calmed, but man, I didn't realize how I felt about it until I actually tried to go somewhere else.

    I can't wait to hear your story and how you separate all the pieces.

    P.S. I'm a fellow Plexian! McGookey sent me to your blog.

  3. Krista - I'm curious to see how this develops, too. :) The jumble of thoughts has been in my brain for a long time, but I haven't really tried to unpack them before. It'll be fun to see how many times I contradict myself.

    Deanna - Nice to meet you! McGookey sent me to your blog, and I've read the first three posts where you talk about your experience. It makes me miss my yearly chat with the Barna people who called my parents' house.

    The follow up questions are killer. Some of them, I won't have a good answer for; some, I'm just trying to figure out a polite way to say, "No, this specific doctrine is asinine and you'd have to be a sociopath to believe it." Mostly, I just don't like being part of a group that feels the need to ask all of those questions to begin with. Someone once described this as, "reducing faith to a series of propositions," and I love that description. It's like filling out a scantron in that only one answer is correct and there is no room for nuance. Incredibly frustrating.