Do people join a church because they share its members' beliefs? This has become the putative
ideal, the only pure motivation for church affiliation. But I have seldom heard it voiced at our new members' class.
It’s hardly news that someone counts herself in the “religious but not
part of an organized religion” camp. Or as novelist Anne Rice described herself:
she is a follower of Christ who has decided to quit Christianity.
Back when I made my living as a high school English teacher, I used to tell my ninth graders that the class unit with the most practical application to their lives was Greek tragedy. “Grammar’s important, too,” I would hasten to add. “Don’t get me wrong. But not all of you will require a working knowledge of English grammar to get by in life.
At this time of the Christian year, worship services feature narratives that stretch credulity to the limit. Whether the stories star hayseed shepherds confronted by hosts of glittering angels or desert pilgrims watching something like a dove descend upon a man in a river as a voice from heaven calls him “son,” this is the season of beholding things beyond belief.