J considers going to church, though she does not believe.
She is very pleased with the U3A meeting at the United Reformed Church. She is chair of the U3A, and they decided to move it from its previous venue, which was much smaller. The whole group could not meet there. It was a great success: they had mulled wine, and cake, and she has brought home lots of coffee cups and two wine-soaked tablecloths. Normally it would just be coffee and biscuits and she would stay behind and wash the cups there. They can store them, there, she has got these plastic pallets to store them and a wheeled trolley so anyone can move them easily, without carrying them! Because they are quite heavy, you know.
And the church is lovely, and the minister is lovely. She’s American or Canadian or something. They have a coffee morning every morning, with coffee for only 20p, and cake for 50p, and they chat.
J does not believe in God. Her parents were Jehovah’s Witnesses, and when she left that faith her mother refused to see her again. Her husband P is verging on anti-theist. He thinks it is a load of rubbish. She would not tell him, she would just go out on Sunday morning and come back with a load of shopping. They have a good relationship and they have separate interests.
Mmm. Questions. Where have you been? Where are you Going? These are intrusive, controlling questions. Yet to “How has your day been?” I would feel not mentioning such a thing would be withholding. No, she is not ashamed of it, she says.
What would she find, if she went to church? I have found URCs welcoming. The one in Cardiff had a long period of discernment in the early noughties, after which it appointed gay elders. That is my test of the sanity of a church: that it does not reject God’s good creation of LGBT folk. She would hear that nice minister preach about God and the Christian life, and pray to God, which would be a litany of concerns about the congregation, the country and the world. Would that not just seem pointless and irrelevant, if you did not believe? She would sing hymns.
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
It is a rollicking tune, Sagina, great fun to sing in a crowd, but would you want to, without believing in it? Possibly, if you got other things from the occasion. J is wildly extrovert. You could make friends there. She is beautifully generous, loving to do a good turn: I started to cry in her kitchen, and she drove me home, putting my bicycle in the back of her car.
I would still be wary of going there, though I went there when the new minister was inducted and they invited the local churches to send representatives. I would be fearful of being judged.