Well, my wife is scheduled to have labor induced next Wednesday, but the baby could start coming at any minute, so hey - I don't have time to go to church. Whew! That gets me out of that little dilemma. I'm just too danged busy. Also, when he's a newborn, I probably won't want to fill my calendar up with too many appointments. I suppose that I can keep on coming up with excuses until he's in his thirties ("Hey! My son's about to become a father! I need to be there for him!") but eventually I'll probably be able to free up a Sunday (they do these things on Sunday, right?) if I really want to.
The problem is this: I really don't know if I want to. I discussed this with my wife recently. She says that it would be good for me just for the experience. Also, I reasoned that an option that my students have for one of the projects I give them during the year is to attend a religious service that is not one of their own. This would be like me doing my own assignment, and I can start off the presentations by telling my students of my experience. So, there are some good reasons for going aside from the fact that a couple of nice people invited me.
Then what's holding me back? Here's the thing: I didn't ever go to church regularly when I was a believer, but even back then I always felt very uncomfortable when I went to one. I tried going a few times with a friend of mine, but I just couldn't get into it. One Christmas service felt like a bad Saturday Night Live routine with cheesy music and some woman who blathered on about her train-wreck of a life that Jesus was going to get back on track at any moment. I also can't stand the whole thing when people hold their hands up when they sing like they're trying to get better reception or something. I hate to sound all Holden Caulfield here, but it just strikes me as being really phony.
People who know me know that I don't have much of a poker face. When I think something is lame or silly, I cannot hide my chagrin. This is what worries me. If I found church to be so unpleasant back when I at least believed in the basic teachings of Christianity, what are the chances that I won't find it bothersome now? And if that happens, I don't want to be some rude guy who got invited to a place out of the goodness of some friends' hearts only to have a look on my face like I'm smelling a turd.
One of these friends pointed out something though. I may have been to church, but I have not been to THEIR church. This is true. Honestly, I don't know what to expect. I'm fairly certain that they aren't ultra-fundamentalists, as I know that at least one of them voted for Obama. I do know that they have some singing though, and unless they're doing old spirituals by Johnny Cash or Al Green, I'm probably going to have a hard time getting into it. One thing's for sure, if I do go, I hope that they don't talk in tongues. I don't think that they do, but oh man...I don't think that I could keep a straight face if I saw people doing that.
But maybe this is what my wife was talking about when she said that it would be "good for me". Yeah, I don't have much of a poker face, but maybe this would be my chance to develop one. What's wrong with me that I can't just sit there in the back and pay attention without feeling the need to judge everything all the time? Shoot, why can't I just loosen up a bit? Maybe I should go ahead and sing the songs too. Why not? I've stated before that I'm not afraid to convert if converting makes sense to me. So then, what am I afraid of? (Well...perhaps my pride is a bit at stake.)
Part of me also hopes that by going, I won't be getting up anybody's hopes unnecessarily. I remember as a Christian thinking that some atheist friends "really did believe" and I've known that there has been a person or two who thinks that about me. Of course, I shouldn't care what other people think - but I do. I mean, is there a chance that I'll go and say at the end, "Holy cow! I totally get it now! I'm converting! Somebody get a pool ready, I'm a ready to get myself baptized!" I suppose that's possible, but come on, I'm 36 not some teenager who is just starting to think about this stuff. Even if I really have a nice time there, it won't solve all of my intellectual objections to religion in general and Christianity in particular.
But hey...maybe the hope that I'll simply have a nice time is all they're hoping for. Good thing this whole "baby" thing is buying me some more time to think.