Goodbye (or au revoir) to the church

Today was the last time I’m expecting to be in church for a while. I’m taking some time away to see if it helps to get my thoughts in order, or whether I can find better ways to spend my Sunday mornings than sitting passively through a lot of stuff that doesn’t really mean anything to me.

See you later?

It seems like a big step – a relief in some ways, but also a painful separation that almost feels like a bereavement. For what seems like an age, I was happy enough to mark time in the pews, letting it all wash over me, but since the CofE’s statement on the same-sex marriage consultation, I’ve felt sufficiently alienated from the church hierarchy that I just can’t comfortably remain where I am. More on that later, I’m sure.

Despite feeling distant from the church for some time, it’s hard to overcome the inertia, especially when my wife, children and extended family (or at least the problem of how to tell them) provided reasons to stay put. On the other hand, it’s easy to take the simple option and avoid any upheaval. I can’t imagine how long I might have sat tight without the CofE’s statement forcing my hand.

Speaking to my vicar, a decent chap who I like a lot, was hard, and talking to my wife about it was harder. I can’t blame her for wanting things to stay the way they were when we first knew each other and when we were married. In a way, I’d like the same, but I can’t fake belief even if I wanted to. Clearly, I’m the one who’s changed, but I’m touched and reassured that she’s been so understanding and accepting of my position.

It’s possible that over time I’ll get over it and drift back towards the church. On the other hand, this might turn out to be a permanent break. That uncertainty makes it easier to make and explain the decision, but it also makes it harder to process. I’m stepping away for now, with all that entails, but on the understanding that one day (be it in a week, a year or a lifetime) I might be ready to return.

Whatever happens from here, I think this marks a new chapter in my life.

Photo by polmuadi, used under Attribution License

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About Recovering Agnostic

I'm Christian by upbringing, agnostic by belief, cynical by temperament, broadly scientific in approach, and looking for answers. My main interest at the moment is in turning my current disengaged shrug into at least a working hypothesis.

11 responses to “Goodbye (or au revoir) to the church”

  1. Sabio Lantz says :

    Wow, big step. Sounds like you made it in the most healthy way you could. Best wishes.

  2. M. Rodriguez says :

    well I hope everything goes well for you

  3. Kevin says :

    Like the folks above have said, may all be well with you and your family. I wonder if you’ve thought about going along to another church’s service to see how that feels. The reason I say this is that you didn’t really mention anything in your post about not believing in Jesus any more. The closest I think you got was in the first paragraph: ‘sitting passively through a lot of stuff that doesn’t really mean anything to me’.

    If you do still have some kind of faith in Jesus / God then perhaps it’s worth trying out another church, one that’s very different from what you’re used to. Just a thought…

    • Recovering Agnostic says :

      I thought this blog was probably enough indication that any beliefs I still hold are fairly trivial in the wider scheme if things!

      Thanks for the suggestion, but it’s not going to happen for several reasons. Mainly, I’ve stayed as long as I have out of inertia, convenience and friendship. They aren’t the best reasons, but they’re all I’ve got. Having decided that I can’t stay where I am, there’s nothing left to convince me to try a different church.

      I could try moving the whole family, but that would be unnecessarily difficult for them, and a case of the tail wagging the dog. And to be honest, I can’t imagine a much better church than I’m leaving. It’s the CofE that’s the problem, not the local church.

      But also, I think it will do me some good to have some space to learn about ideas and myself. I want to try to make something positive out of this, and I don’t think I’ll know what to do with myself on Sunday mornings, so I might spend the time exploring different faiths, traditions and practices.

      • Kevin says :

        Sure yes, I suspected that you weren’t keen to try out other churches! But just in case you do, why not try a church that has nothing to do with the Church of England, if it’s the CofE that’s the problem? Anyhow, all the best and obviously do what you feel is the right thing for you and your family.

      • Recovering Agnostic says :

        It’s certainly a possibility, but my first move is definitely to see how what I believe and how I feel about the church as a whole. After that, who knows?

  4. Ben Searle says :

    You’ve made a big call. It is difficult to align coming to Sunday morning church whilst struggling with what the parish/denomination may subscribe to in ethics, conduct, or other related areas. T D Jakes once said: ‘Have you been in chuch for so long that you fogot why you came in the first palce?’. This could be a time to understand what got you in a pew in the first place.

    • Recovering Agnostic says :

      I like that quote! I think my thoughts and perspective have changed a lot over the years, but part of what I’d like to achieve is to get some idea of whether I still want to be there.

      It’s easy to react against the status quo, but I might start to get a different perspective once I’ve put a bit of distance between myself and what’s annoying me. We’ll see.

  5. argumentsagainstreligion says :

    Good luck! I felt, and still feel, some grieving periods for my lack of faith. however, it was worse pretending to be someone I wasn’t, pretending to believe things I didn’t. Go with your gut and I hope you don’t encounter too much family/friends drama for leaving the church. Hope all goes well.

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