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Church but not religion? :/

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
Heya

So I went on a mountain climbing / hiking trip this weekend with my friends church 'mens group' (I'm not sure if they were trying to recruit me or not ;)). And what can I say. I absolutely, absolutely loved it. The guys were great, it was so intimate and so open and honest and great fun. One interesting thing the vicar said to us all: when we were up on the windy mountain, despite no organised leader, we were all looking out for each other, making sure the ones ahead and behind were ok, giving advice on footholds and handholds, just naturally being good to one another. He said basically thats what it is 'to be a man' in the 21st century (he said lots of other stuff too).

Basically I was a convert. Here was a model for a functional group of male friends who can share some extremely intimate things with each other, in complete confidence and I don't know.. it was just nice. These guys will go back to their lives after this and put on their game faces, from the professional rugby player (!!) to the father of 3 to the ambulance riding paramedic. It was weird to have people mixed together like that.

So that kind of thing made me think actually, the church probably does a really good thing for people, and for society, in bringing people together in a 'safe space' - like you might have in a womens group!

My problem is I don't believe in Jesus. I don't really believe in any notion of God. But I want to be involved with something like what these guys do and look out for one another and just be awesome.

Lots of confusing thoughts going round. Maybe someone can help. :/

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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Whilst I have encountered some pretty mentalist religious folk in my time, I've also experienced plenty of folk the same, but who have no religious connections. Much as there are good people both with and without faith.

    I'm not a religious person in the slightest, but I also have an immense respect for others who have received the gift of faith. I snook into what passed as a church for us when I was in Afghanistan once or twice after some pretty horrendous days. Not to pray or ask for Gods blessing, but because for some reason I always find that a church is a calming and relatively chilled out place. Also, the padre (army speak for vicar/priest) was also very easy to talk to, and knew an awful lot of the bible; not used to try and convert me, but used as stories with useful meaning to give me solace.

    Sounds like you had an extremely positive experience, if I was you I would be begging to have another experience such as yours. As for the faith issue, that's something to chat to the institution about.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I'm the same with the quakers - I love what they do and their openness and relaxed attitude towards people's idea of divinity, but i'm not sure I fit into their box. Although I've frequently popped into a society of friends meeting house and just sat and meditated or just for a little peace and serenity.

    There are other men's groups which don't rely upon faith - but thats more of the hippy-ilk me thinks (like mens camp and such).
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    See I'm the opposite, I have faith, but not religion, I can handle the thing, just not the churches. Being the hipster I am ;D
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Hi there ShyBoy,

    It's great that you had such a great time on this trip, and it's understandable that you enjoyed this kind of friendly social and fun aspect, with what seems like respect, loyalty and thoughtfulness between you all.

    Would you be able to share this concern with the Vicar? Could you say how much you enjoy all this but have struggled with the religious aspect?

    Otherwise perhaps finding a place to volunteer could be an idea? Finding a group that has similar interest and caring about same things could create a very similar ambience. Have a look at do-it.org so see what's out there :)
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Tried to volunteer having done it and enjoyed it in the past. The opportunities these days are thinner and less fulfilling than when I used to do it years ago, mainly because its an essential part of most young people's career aspirations to have something on the CV. (And thus, they are just 'sales assistant volunteer' kind of jobs)
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Hey ShyBoy.

    It totally depends on the church. For example, if I knew someone was coming along to the young adults fellowship I run at church, but without any interest in faith, I'd still be really glad they were enjoying socialising with us.

    But some will take a more evangelical view and see anyone in the group as someone to convert.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Some people confuse being good with being religious, and so some otherwise good people end up at Churches.

    I'm trying to find my own local group of good folk, but not having much luck. Damn being an extreme introvert.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I have had similar experience since moving to a new town for my job. I quickly fell into "belonging" in a group of people who know each other through church. I got asked if I wanted to come along to services a few times, but only ever went once for the Christmas service (not religious, but love carol services...). Their whole way of life, looking after each other and newbies and treating everyone with respect and kindness is amazing, and definitely something a lot more people should learn! I too questioned joining in with church life but I don't believe in God, Jesus etc so I haven't done, but outside of church we get along great and I respect their beliefs they respect mine (or my lack of!). Even the vicar knows me.

    I guess my point (sorry for the rambling was trying to explain what I meant) is that I bet you can fit in with them without religion being an issue. Do you feel it would be an issue for you? Or will they accept you for who you are? You shouldn't change for them!
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    It sounds like they're a pretty accepting bunch, so I'd stick with it since you had fun. The Church I went to when I was growing up was pretty laidback, noone grilled you on your beliefs, it was more a place for people of all ages to get together and enjoy themselves. Unless you have specific questions, I probably wouldn't mention religion. If someone asks, be honest and respectful if there's a difference in opinion (which I'm sure you would be anyway :d).
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Quakers and Unitarians may be very open, even to people who don't believe in God. I have tried a Unitarian group in Brixton and they were very friendly, but it didn't really fit me as a person.

    I have met some beautiful people at Buddhist groups (despite not making tonight's session... boooo).

    In some ways, I'm glad I wasn't born male because I have male friends, some of who are very sensitive people, but who feel such pressure to be all tough and live up to this gender stereotype.

    Shyboy, are you interested in Buddhism, or at least meditation at all? The group I go to isn't evangelical and you don't have to be Buddhist to go, or if you identify as such, you don't have to be a super strict meditating veggie sober monk type person... I was apprehensive, as I thought that it might be a bit fluffy and about unicorns farting rainbows, but it was actually mostly positive psychology, thinking for yourself and chilling out.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I already do a little bit of meditation namaste so thats something.

    The only problem with continuing to hang around with this group is geographically they are a long way away from me.
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