I have more or less spent the past 15 years turning my mockery of Jesus from a mere gimmick into a full-blown personality trait, so you might be surprised to find that I have some very religious friends and family. I try to tone down my disdain for organized religion while I am around church-going folk. As long as they don’t try to impose their beliefs on me (or explain why their god legitimizes prejudice and homophobia), I don’t try to impose my beliefs on them (although, if they bring up the subject, I’m not going to pretend like I believe in God, just like I don’t expect them to pretend they don’t).
This is all a very long-winded way of saying that my religious friend, T, convinced me to go to a Christianity 101 course at an Anglican church. She wanted to go because she’s having a crisis of faith (I maintain that consulting a priest because you are having doubts about Christianity is like going to a Nazi because you’re doubting that whole racism thing; you’re not likely to get an unbiased answer, but you’ll probably feel reassured in your belief system for a little while); I wanted to go first and foremost for the lulz, but also because it was social, cheap, and I was promised a brunch and free childcare.
I missed the first class, but T went and, as I understand, tried to get all philosophical in her discussion group – asking questions like “If God is so good, why is there suffering in the world?”. You know, the type of question that can’t be satisfactorily answered because, really, the Bible makes no logical sense? That type of question. I wish I had been there!
I thought it was hilarious that the second class began with a disclaimer that this course is not designed to answer any of the big life questions, rather it’s just an introduction to what Christianity is all about. I swear I saw the priest look in T’s direction while he was saying it. Point for T!
I didn’t go with the intention of questioning the Anglican faith at all. The course is taught by people who believe in the bible enough to teach it on a volunteer basis every Sunday. Going into a class knowing that it’s obviously designed to recruit followers and announcing that I don’t believe that Jesus is God incarnate seems a little disrespectful on my part. I didn’t want to be rude. I just wanted to check it out and support T.
The class istself is okay. I went to Catholic school for 10 years and took every religion course offered – even the optional ones (although, in all fairness, I signed up for one because it was billed as a philosophy course and I ended up studying the catechism instead). It certainly isn’t anything new to me, but the priest is kind of cute and my group members are nice enough. I especially like the Jew and the chick who knows nothing about Christianity because it’s neat to see their perspectives.
The class consists of a small talk from the priest, explaining some “fact” or concept, and then we have a directed discussion session in our assigned small groups. I took part much more than I thought I would, and in a sort of constructive way (I found myself explaining concepts like the trinity. It almost sounded like I was one of them!), although I did feel like a total tool when they asked “If you had to describe Jesus, how would you do so?” and I said he was a dude with a beard, while everyone else answered with adjectives like “nice,” “kind,” etc. I didn’t mean to sound flippant – I’m just a douche. My second class is tomorrow. I’ll try to keep a running count of all of the ways I manage to embarrass myself.
For those of you who are looking for cheap entertainment, I would totally recommend hitting up your local churches (or other places of worship). You can check out the architecture for free (it’s genuinely beautiful), attend a service (also free), or take some of the classes they offer (the one I’m in right now costs $10 for something like 5 weeks, and the fee is there basically to cover the cost of brunch. Also, if I wasn’t paranoid about letting some stranger employed by an institution known for kid-diddling take care of Whitney, I’d get free childcare for an hour).