A Crisis In Faith- The Church and Me

Going to church was never a regular habit growing up, partially because as a Malayalee, my parents wanted us to go to a Malayalee church, which several years back seemed to be nonexistent.

That doesn’t mean I never have gone to American services. I have gone to several over the span of my current life time and to compare the services of what is considered mainstream to traditional cultural rituals- well you just can’t.

I speak on my experiences and my experiences alone, so before I begin my reasoning’s with why I do not go to church I want to clarify- I am a baptized Christian of the Jacobite Orthodox faith and I do seek solace with the higher one above for peace of mind.

It’s so easy to treat Church and God as an addition. When we as individuals fall apart, we wonder as to why we go to church on Sunday, yet only seldom experience peace that surpasses all understanding, or we read the Bible that one time during the week, and wonder yet again as to why don’t we have any of the answers…

My family happened to be one of the founding members of the church they presently attend here in America, which at one point in my life I had avidly made it my ritual to attend as well. It was me who would excitedly wake up in the morning to get ready and wake the others in my household to attend church as well…for what- I honestly do not know. Perhaps the idea that we were finally becoming part of the community united under one belief, or perhaps the fact that after service, I get to mingle amongst people who share a similar belief…who knows. But whatever it shall be, I stopped going for the reason that the church has started to become a place of whomever has the better social/political class, better outfit of that day, to outshine and talk up their son/daughter for their teacher claims they are the next future Einstein, and of course the various gossiping…seeing all these started to bring a negative aura around the institution known as “church” and of course, me being a single, eligible Malayalee girl doesn’t help. The topic of marriage comes up on a constant basis, but that is beside the point…

In this sense, I have a difficult time believing that how churches are run today are what Christ had in mind. It’s become similar to a theatrical play- the spectators sit quietly waiting for the performance to begin each week; with grand drapes and glass structures, a beautiful showcase of the altar, someone leading the melodious hymns, and as this is all moving along, the spectators patiently wait for the one claimed to be closest with the Lord above to make his announcement of enlightenment for the week- only to then be encouraged to give ‘donations’ to institution.

The phrase, “going to church” turns church into somewhat a consumer experience. I could go or not go to church and either way, the driving force is not the church, nor the community, but ME. So, in addition to emulating a consumer patrons approach to ‘the church’, the language of “going to church” has thus reflected the individualism of our times. Furthermore, when we talk of “going to church” what we are usually doing is conflating church with church service, which there’s nothing wrong with going to church services, but when we speak as if that is our sole or primary experience of church, then we as ‘the good Christian’ are reducing our imaginations about what church is or could possibly be…

church

This being said, I believe God doesn’t want you to go to church on Sunday. He doesn’t want your offerings, attention, and he I’m pretty sure he’s not interested in how you sing your songs or whether your choir group is better than the other churches. In Mathews 16:24, “if anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.” So you see, the deity higher above doesn’t want what you could possibly give on a Sunday morning, he wants everything. Especially with how we live our current lives today, we seem to treat Him, and faith of any kind as an ‘addition’/extracurricular in our life.

You don’t have to do this by attending an “institution”/ “congregation”- you’re more than welcome to, but let me ask you, how often is it that you feel peace while attending the service under God? Do you feel any more enlightened than if you were to just pray in the comfortable sanctity of your home? The only missing aspect of praying at home is the people/community that may or may not be with you…

The disappointment and detachment I have with the Church does not mean I am not devoted to a faith in general. I just personally feel that the way these institutions are run have become more like businesses feeding off emotions and conceptualized ideals…Bringing people to a place each and every week to hear and witness pretty much the same exact service and preaches is a feat of its own…to make people feel that they have to go to church week after week or else God will be disappointed with you. If we think rationally about this, it is a ridiculous notion to think that anyone benefits much from sitting through a recap from something we already know, week after week, and it’s even more ridiculous to think that people “need” to be there week after week in order to grow spiritually.

Ultimately, the Church and Me have our differences. It is by attending church over a period of time that I have come to these thoughts, and yes- more will be said about my asymmetries with the institution later, but for now, I encourage you to ponder what does it really mean by going to this place of gathering.

 

 

 

Featured photo credit: Clip from ‘Annorunaal

 

 

 

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3 thoughts on “A Crisis In Faith- The Church and Me”

  1. It is a well written article on the feeling and attitude of the young people brought up in this country, religion without relationship. I want to encourage Angela to continue to wrestle with the “crisis of faith” while reading the Bible, asking the Lord to reveal the truth. If you honestly do it, God will talk with you and you will find God of the Bible and meaning of “life in Him.

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  2. I agree. Going to a mallu church is a whole different experience….it’s more social than religious. Growing up we went to a mallu mass that was held once a month and it was more for socializing than praying. As a high school kid it was way for me to see my friend, but also a great way to be compared and contrasted among the rest.

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