My Convertible Life

Monday, July 12, 2010

Mere Churchianity

Warning: I'm about to write about religion. I figure I've already written about politics, so I might as well hit the other big, hairy topic, too. If you're not interested in church or easily offended by anything outside of your personal beliefs, please skip on over and wait until I post about funny kid tales or recipes or something. That said, this post really isn't as dangerous as I've made it out to be.

As a Catholic kid in the South in the 1970s, I grew up in mission territory. Literally.

The daughter of a born-and-raised Catholic father and a convert mother, I'm one of a relatively small group of people who grew up Catholic in North Carolina back then and still consider themselves Catholic today. Even now, Catholics make up only about 4 percent of the state's residents, with much of the growth coming from the influx of Northern transplants and an increasing Hispanic population.

When I met my husband, one of the things that was most surprising was that he, too, grew up Catholic in North Carolina -- attending K-12 Catholic schools, no less. We were married in the Church and have baptized both of our children as well. While I haven't always agreed with everything in the capital "C" Church (particularly when it comes to the Pope's politics), I've managed to find some small "c" church congregations that fit my spiritual needs.

But now that Junius is old enough to start faith formation classes (known to Protestants as "Sunday School" and called "CCD" in my day), I'm looking at both my Church and my church in a different way. I find myself wrestling more with the practices and beliefs that I've simply ignored in the past when I couldn't believe in them -- as a mom, how do I answer my children when they ask about those things?

So this summer we accepted an invitation from some friends to attend their church's summertime bible study -- sort of a low-key, low-commitment way to explore Christianity from another perspective. From the first session, I knew I'd stepped out of my religious comfort zone -- I didn't know the songs we sang, all the familiar rituals were gone, and participants were talking openly about the day they were saved. I was surprised to discover how much I missed the patterns and practices of a Catholic service.

What I also realized that evening and during later sessions was that I'm willing to wrestle with this. I don't ascribe to what the minister called "churchianity" -- just going through the motions of attending church without actually thinking about or believing in anything. At the moment, I'm not ready to leave my church. I have more questions than answers -- and I'm afraid that balance might get worse before it gets better. But maybe it's more important for my children to see me searching for answers than it is for me to always have the right thing to say.


  1. Thank you for sharing this Cyndi! We have not "found" a Church yet - and we moved almost 3 years ago! I, like you, am ready to explore, "wrestle with", learn about, what I want/need in a Church. Good to know there are others out there kind of like me. :-)

  2. Thanks for posting this! I love to hear about people's spiritual journeys...I would love to talk more at the beach about it!

  3. We're wondering about this too. My husband went to all the official Catholic stuff and isn't opposed, but isn't terribly keen on Anna going the same route. I am torn.

    One of the reasons I loved the woman (Protestant, I think) who did our wedding ceremony was when she said to me "It's ok. You don't call yourself a Christian because that word's been co-opted by people you can't believe in." I was like, whoa.

  4. I am born and raised Catholic and my husband is Methodist. We've found a home in a Lutheran church where our kids were baptized. We call ourselves an ecumenical family. Good luck on your journey!


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