Thursday, April 28, 2011

The false intimacy of church

Anyone even the slightest bit outgoing makes friends quickly at church. After all, you're self selected to be compatible; you believe the same things, or nearly enough. You're there for the same reasons and purposes- that produces an infectious camaraderie, an intimacy.

But it's a false intimacy. You have no idea how huge are the differences that can be masked over by a common ideology or a covenant, how little of the real person is conveyed by a religious identity until there's some decision, some committee vote that makes you say, "That isn't the man I know. That isn't the woman I know. Who are these people who have been so large a part of my life for so many years?" And then you have to decide whether it's possible to fellowship with the real people in the room, rather than the illusions you had been fellowshipping with.

I hope you have no idea what I'm talking about. I hope you never do.


Masasa said...

I know what you are talking about, though I have found that when I have decided yes I can, that I found a new love for the congregation on the other side. (The same thing, I think, often happens in marriage. You marry someone and then you decide to be married to the real person and not the spouse you created in your head. That happened to me even though my wife and I were together 4 years, including living together, before we got married. I wouldn't call any of this a false intimacy, but definitely a less deep relationship.)

Eruonen said...

This is similar to family relationships as well. You are connected intimately but some hold opinions, beliefs that leave you dumbfounded, think of any holiday get together.

Anonymous said...

Joel, I know exactly what you mean. I am now struggling with the question of whether "agreeing to disagree" is enough of a shared value to justify belonging to my church.

Lilith BlackDragon said...

I know whereof you speak, Joel. And it is a painful knowing

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I know, for sure. And it sucks, big time. Even though theologically I can be very "UU" in a lot of ways, when it comes to certain specific social issues, etc, I'm not in accord with most of the UUs I know. And I've had to distance myself from them as a result. I mean, it's difficult to even discuss certain things with them at all, and sometimes they have me wondering if I can or should use the label "UU" at all for myself, even if I think that on a theological level, that's where I'm at.

Who determines what is a "real UU" and what is not?