Are there any aspects of your faith that you miss?

For those of you that were once religious, is there any aspect of your faith that you miss?

The Outsider

Growing up, most of my friends went to church. Some of my friends were even the children of pastors. We lived in a pretty conservative area. While my parents considered themselves Christian, we did not go to church (except for an occasional wedding or funeral) and it was not forced upon me.

I was always an outsider. My friends had confirmation and vacation bible camp – things I knew nothing about. All of my friends were people I went to school with but they had a whole nother community in their church.

I have to admit, I may have been a little jealous.

I sometimes went to church services with my friends and I never got it. I didn’t enjoy it and I definitely didn’t understand it. However, I tagged along to a couple of youth group activities and they were actually kind of fun. 

I knew I would never fit in and unfortunately, I felt like I was missing out.

A Question for the Formerly Faithful

Obviously today I want nothing to do with religion. I don’t fit in and I don’t care. For once, I like being an outsider.

For those things I thought I was missing out on – do you miss any aspects of your religion? The community? Some comfort?

It’s kind of funny to me now because I’m still friends on Facebook with many of the people I grew up with and most of them are still religious. I just thought they would all grow out of it.

One of my friends goes to a church with cardio drumming. Now I know I’m definitely missing out!



  1. says

    The one thing I miss: singing. If you wanted to sing, you had to join a church choir to get any kind of training/practice. When I was growing up, there was no such thing as a secular choir — even the high school music classes were led by members of the church. Even at the university level…I stopped attending choir events at my college because they were always religious songs, guided by the bias of the choir director.

  2. brucegee1962 says

    I was part of a healthy and active church youth group when I was a teenager, and it was honestly pretty great. The leaders (who included my parents) really worked on making the kids non-judgmental and trusting of one another. For instance, I remember one group discussion when I was in 8th grade about put-downs, which of course everyone at school would do all the time. I did too, because everyone else was doing it, and also because I wanted to look witty. During that discussion I remember saying to myself “If I’m really all that clever, can’t I make a clever compliment just as well as a clever put-down?” And I’ve tried to live by that rule ever since.

    Kids will really open up to one another if given a chance. We’d go around every week talking about our highs and lows, and it could be powerfully therapeutic to the kids who were having a rough time to have someone to talk to about their problems. It also gave me more empathy towards others and more appreciation for my own, relatively trouble-free life.

    There is a powerful emotion, which doesn’t have a name, but which comes from feeling as if you’re a part of something larger than yourself. (Actually, I wish atheists could reclaim the name Spirituality for that emotion.) You can get it from music, or from poetry, or from nature, or from sex, or from great art, and I definitely got it from that group. It’s a powerful drug, especially at that age, and I’ve never felt it quite as strongly since. It’s an area where the atheist community still has a long way to catch up.

    • anat says

      I recently learned that author Romain Rolland called that emotion ‘an oceanic emotion’ in a letter to Sigmund Freud. Freud took 2 years to respond to that letter because he couldn’t believe that such a learned person had such ‘primitive’ emotions.

  3. brucegee1962 says

    Oh, another addendum to my previous post, for those wondering about political indoctrination — this was during the seventies, when there was a strong movement (which my parents participated in) of liberal Christianity. Think Reverend Sloane Coffin, who got immortalized by a character in Doonesbury.

    I was greatly saddened in the eighties when my friends went off to college looking for the same kind of fellowship, fell in with groups like Young Life and the Campus Crusade for Christ, and came home much more conservative.

  4. Katydid says

    I seem to have been born without a “belief” gene; I can’t remember ever believing anything I was told in church or Sunday School or Vacation Church School or youth group or any of the other church things I had to go to. Church activities were free babysitting and nothing more.

    I can’t remember anyone around me being more than mildly enthusiastic about Christianity and the general message of the church could probably be summed up as “Jesus was a good guy; let’s try to be like him.” At least I think that was the message; I didn’t really pay attention and nobody was particularly strident about it.

    I also went to college in the 1980s and my roommates were three born-again Southern Baptist Fundies who were sure everyone but them were going to hell and were constantly in judgment of everything and everyone around them. They also saw signs of Satan everywhere. Is the weather pleasant on a Sunday morning? That’s Satan trying to trick you so you don’t go to (their) church. And so forth.

  5. brucegee1962 says

    Thanks, Anat — that’s interesting.
    The Romantic poets write about that emotion a lot. Religion isn’t necessary — it’s just one path. Here’s Wordsworth talking about these “spots of time”:

    Nor less, I trust,
    To them I may have owed another gift,
    Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood,
    In which the burthen of the mystery,
    In which the heavy and the weary weight
    Of all this unintelligible world,
    Is lightened:–that serene and blessed mood,
    In which the affections gently lead us on,–
    Until, the breath of this corporeal frame
    And even the motion of our human blood
    Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
    In body, and become a living soul:
    While with an eye made quiet by the power
    Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
    We see into the life of things.

  6. txpiper says

    I don’t think anyone ever escapes ‘faith’. It is usually a trade-off, dropping one belief and picking up something else.
    People tend to believe things they like, and disbelieve things they do not like.

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