Where we go to church, or whether we go, isn’t the point. The point is who are we becoming? Does church help you to become the sort of person you’d pick to be stuck on a desert island with? Good! Go! Does it hurt your chances of becoming that person? Run!
Flee from exclusionary certainty. As the bumper sticker says, “Mean People Suck!” And that goes especially for people who are mean in the name of love.
There is only one defense against the rising, worldwide, fear-filled fundamentalist tide engulfing all religions (including the intolerant religion of the New Atheists) which once engulfed me: the embrace of paradox and uncertainty as the virtuoso expression of love.
The follower of Jesus’ example–be she an atheist scientist working on a neuropsychology project, a pastor counseling gang members, a husband bringing his wife coffee or a mom picking up her child at preschool–will do anything it takes to live the reality of what it means to walk in another person’s shoes. To help us do that is the only point of going to any church or, for that matter, logging on to an atheist website.
Atheists, believers, and everyone in between can show empathy equally well. It never is about correct belief, but always about character. And religious people and atheists are no better or worse than each other.
If you are a Church of One, do you trust your congregation? When you want to be inspired by an icon representing something bigger than yourself, don’t you ever get tired of just looking into the mirror?
We’re all stuck in the same rudderless boat. It is about the spirit we share or about nothing. It is about how we treat others or about nothing. How we treat others is the only proof of truth we have. That proof is not found in any book. It is only found in the expression of unconditional trust we may sometimes see in the eyes of the people who know us best.
-Frank Schaeffer, Why I Am An Atheist Who Believes in God