I haven’t been to church in a while; more specifically, I haven’t been to church since January, when I was home and church was a social engagement as well as a spiritual experience.
The church I attend in Boston, as haphazard as my attendance may be, is progressive and the messages are intellectually focused. My pastor wears suits and quotes C.S. Lewis, Christopher Hitchens, Ghandi. We sing hymns. The congregants are young, many of them are married and they seem to exclusively wear J. Crew and their blinding wedding bands. They’re studying at Boston’s finest institutions to be brain surgeons, business leaders and lawyers; they’re a smart group and I enjoy going to church with them- to an extent. My only complaint, and it’s so, so silly, is that I don’t know anyone there. I’ve done the introduction many times- I’ve exchanged handshakes and extended sentiments of peace to those sitting around me. I’ve gone to a few events and had a couple successful conversations but I’ve failed at forming any kind of lasting friendships with my fellow churchgoers and I’ve been avoiding going back because of it. It’s a strange catch-22: I don’t want to go because I’m alone, but I’ll never meet anyone unless I go.
It’s absurd, really. I’m absurd. I should just go. Especially because I like going once I actually get there. It’s really such a relief to be in a room full of Christians in a city the denounces religion.
One way in which I justify staying in on Sunday mornings is by insisting it is helping me write my senior thesis. I’m putting together a collection of short stories about falling away from religion, but not God, and I’m abstaining from attending church as research. This isn't exactly true, however, and I know God can see through my feeble excuses, but in a way I am finding it helpful for my own peace of mind. But already the itch to get back in a room full of Christians is driving me mad. I don’t necessarily feel guilty, but I feel as if I’m denying myself a great pleasure, a way to develop my intellect and glorify my savior. I want to go to church, and if I had a friend who wasn’t a Catholic, atheist or Jew, if I had someone who wanted to go to church with me, I would be there every Sunday with that person by my side. But I don’t, so I’ll simply have to work up the nerve to go alone, again. And again and again and again.