When I was young, my parents brought me to church. Every Sunday, my brother and I would reluctantly put on our dress clothes and climb into the backseat to go. I would hardly understand the service. I just knew that it lasted precisely sixty minutes and the pastor’s voice would sometimes be loud and sometimes it would be soft. Sometimes he would pause and the silence would be thick and heavy in the air. I knew that there would be singing and the songs were not fun to sing, but they were somehow important to sing even though I didn’t understand them. I knew that sometimes other people would sing and by the way that they sung, had practiced probably many hours. I knew that no one would clap for them no matter how beautiful their voice was. We would sit in silence and wait for the pastor to start speaking again without acknowledging the fact that this person’s heart was probably beating fast and their forehead moist with sweat from the adrenaline of singing in front of so many people.
When I was thirteen, I was put in a class called ‘confirmation,’ where I studied the bible every Wednesday after school. I was with other students close to entering high school, and at this point, we were expert learners. We would ask questions that didn’t make sense to the pastor. More often than not, we were told that the answer was ‘because he said so.’ You can imagine our reaction when things did not add up. A + B didn’t equal C. Everything we were being taught in school to make logical sense of things was thrown out the window and we were supposed to somehow just trust this man even though it didn’t make sense to. The most memorable part of this class was when we suggested we make church more fun, the pastor responded with ‘if you are having fun, you probably aren’t learning God’s word.’ I can recall the way he said it, the gesture of his hands which were nervous from being challenged and attempting to be assertive. I can recall the expressions on the faces of my fellow students as we looked at each other in disbelief. For the first ten years of our education, we were told precisely the opposite. The idea that learning was fun was engrained in our brains since pre-school. And now, this man we were supposed to trust because he said so was going against everything we knew. At what point were we supposed to abandon logic? We were being taught contradicting ideas, we were being told to believe two things at once. It was as if your parents told you to do two different things and you didn’t know which to obey.
Since I graduated from confirmation class after my brother, my parents abandoned going to church entirely. They claim that they are too busy, that they are too tired on Sundays even though they were not when my brother and I were younger. We were told that that’s just how things were, that we had to go every Sunday, and now that I am twenty years old, I know that it’s not at all how things are. Who and what am I supposed to believe when everyone contradicts everything else in the world?