Is it odd to attend Church?
Updated: Jan 1
One of the toughest challenges about being a Christian in the western world, is the tendency for people to question your intelligence when you reveal to them a faith in something other than only science. Rational thinking is held in high esteem and it is difficult for some to see that faith in God, long before science, was our default rationale.
In anthropological terms mankind would first visit gods in sacred places, mountains or caves; this was part of their daily existence, as they moved around as nomadic herdsman. As agriculture increased tribes began to settle in places; it became common for the people to build temples or shrines in which the gods would live. It was also common for there to be a wide pantheon of gods: people were never certain that a single god would deliver the goods come harvest time, so it was wise for them to hedge their bets on multiple deities. Many of the founding fathers of the emerging city states of the time became semi-mythical, god-like beings, who soon became incorporated into religious worship. This was the way of things, until the first revelation of Yahweh to a tiny, and relatively obscure, race of peoples in ancient Mesopotamia.
The newly built temples and shrines soon had a need for permanent staffing; these people took care of the sacred places and were available to tend to the will of the gods at all times. They became the healers, the soothsayers, the magicians and scientists of the time. They were the priestly class, men and women of great import. They became involved in every facet of life, from birth to death, much like our scientists or medical professionals of today. Indeed, science has in many ways supplanted religion today. It too has a priestly class, the Doctors and Consultants, as well as its own hidden knowledge and esoteric language. Much like our ancient ancestors, modern people, have placed their faith into these high priests without fully acknowledging the extent to which they too rely on axiomatic thinking.
Mankind designed civilisation around religious ritual, everything else followed. To see just how far back this dates read this article relating to Gobleki Tepe, and how it has changed our understanding of how religion shaped our development. Ritual has always been used as a way of ordering society and that continues today; we have specific ritualised ways of talking to our friends, teachers and parents; we have ritualised methods for getting up and heading out to work in the morning! Is it so odd therefore, to take time out of the week for a moment of ritualised contemplation?
Absolutely not, setting aside time to spend a while listening to the gospel, working our way through the implications of it to our life, and considering the why over the how of our existence is not odd in the slightest. Our ancient ancestors seemed to be deeply in tune with this idea. It would seem that the way in which we live our lives now, in an increasingly secular way, is by far the greater exception in the human story.
Our modern lives remain ritualised, but some have chosen to wilfully ignore the importance this has on societal cohesion. To recognise this means that it becomes less of a leap to take part in an obvious, outward expression of ritual. Gods were perpetually at the centre of such ritual in the west until the mid 20th century, and remain so in many parts of the world. Pew research suggest that 8 in 10 people around the globe identify as religious, with some 2.38 billion professing a belief in the Christian god.
If you feel odd about wishing to attend a Church, start by knowing this.