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Secular Church
Posted: 19 January 2005 09:35 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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I live in the deep South (of the U.S.) where conservative Christianity dominates, and church is an adult's primary venue for socialization. Has anyone considered building community centers that meet people's needs for socialization without having the ulterior motive of pushing religious faith? There are plenty of people here in the South who dislike church but attend for social reasons. What if they had an alternative? A sort of co-op country club for the common man?

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Posted: 19 January 2005 07:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Don’t you have bars in the South? Why do you need a new church - just go the pub and have a few beers with the ladies there. I know for a fact that there are some fine topless bars in Atlanta.

But wait, don’t you have rodeo and monster truck pulls also? There are lots of ways to meet people - maybe you just need to get out more often.

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Posted: 20 January 2005 05:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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Don’t you have bars in the South? Why do you need a new church - just go the pub and have a few beers with the ladies there. I know for a fact that there are some fine topless bars in Atlanta.

But wait, don’t you have rodeo and monster truck pulls also? There are lots of ways to meet people - maybe you just need to get out more often.

You remind me of the geeks who want newbies to switch from Windows to Linux, and then mock them for asking stupid questions. If this is the way you treat potential free thinkers, you might as well put on a priest’s collar and start handing out bibles.

You, single male between the ages of sixteen and thirty, have plenty of options for secular socialization. Enjoy it while you can, because the average person will spend most of their lives married with children. And what will your socialization options be when you have to carry a family around with you?

They are as follows:

Church.

There is no secular venue for socialization for families in which one is encouraged to meet strangers, who are assumed to be trustworthy. I’d like to change that, and I bet I’m not the only one.

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Posted: 20 January 2005 06:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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Joe,

Either you are seriously lacking in imagination or the South really is a sad place (I don’t go there much as I don’t have a visa for red states).

What about:

- football/baseball games
- kids school events
- picnics in the park
- hiking
- monster truck pulls (I was originally kidding, but on second thoughts why not?)
- get the kids seriously into a sport, like tennis or whatever.
- cultural outings (you’ll have to fill in the blanks here, as I’mnot sure if there are any in the South)


Come on, it’s not that hard. Too many parents are lazy about this, and the kids end up at the mall, eating junk food, getting cynical and obese, and another whole generation is lost.

The last thing we need is a new church. Let’s get back to living our lives in a healthy, natural way.

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Posted: 21 January 2005 01:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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From my original post:

What if they had an alternative? A sort of co-op country club for the common man?

Obviously, I’m not talking about another church. I’m talking about an alternative to church.

And did you notice that a “red” president won by popular vote? If you want to keep the United States from becoming a “red” country, you’d better start taking an interest in how to persuade “red” people away from the systems that encourage continued religious belief, instead of insulting them right up until the minute they throw you in a concentration camp for godless liberals.

All the things you listed are fun activities, but if you’d like to do them with other families, you have to meet those families first - and in most of the red states, (and probably in rural areas in the north and west as well,) Christianity has rushed in with a solution - meet them through church…and as long as you’re here, teach your kids to live in terror of God.

There could be a secular alternative to church, but there isn’t. Instead, there are people like you telling vast numbers of people that they’re culturally inferior, while the church waits for them with open arms - as long as they believe.

You should read The Ugly American - a quasi-fictional book about how the USSR converted Asian countries to communism right under the nose of the United States because of the superior diplomacy of their inferior system. Just like your attitude is helping to drive new converts to Christianity.

I’m not going to spend an indefinite amount of time keeping up this thread, so if you keep up with the insults, you can eventually “win” this discussion - and you will have won nothing of any value.

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Posted: 21 January 2005 02:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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I have to say I understand this issue….

There are not alot of social replacements to church after you are 30, married, and quit hanging out in bars. 

Well the internet = p

Once you hit 50, it gets even worse = )

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Posted: 23 January 2005 03:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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I think your problem is fairly simple. Just pursue those things that interest you. Your secular church or fellowship - those will similar views or intersts, will suddenly appear like magic and offer unlimited opportunities.

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Posted: 23 January 2005 08:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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Skeptic, I think they miss the problem = )

I agree with you, I am in Texas, and outside of church and bars there isnt much = )

But I really dont see this idea being that sucessful either.

Have to be a secular bar with a bowling alley on one side and a library on the other.

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Posted: 23 January 2005 02:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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Honestly thought this topic was kind ot silly, until I actually stopped and thought about it.  I live near Wilmington, NC, a resort area and fairly cosmopolitian compared with most of the rest of the south.  We moved here from the northeast in 1992, and, I have to tell you, I was hardly prepared for the religious culture I found here! 

There is not an activity I can think of that is not somehow tied to religion.  I am a Realtor, and and least once a week, some other Realtor invites me to the next “Realtors for christ” meeting!  About the only thing I can do where someone doesnt say a prayer is shoot pool!  I try to do that a couple of times a week.

I really dont know how to give a serious answer to your question.  I would like to start an anti-bible discussion group, where we sit around and discuss the contridictions in the holy book, but I dont dare publish it in the paper.  I write letters-to-the-editor, and get hate mail. 

None of the national secular groups have chapters near me, and I frankly dont have the time or energy to get one started.  We are trying to start a new business, and that takes up most of our time.  I enjoy this, and some other forums I follow, at least I can get some validation, and not feel like the lone ranger with my evolvefish cap and t-shirt.

Dont forget, Darwin day is coming up next month!  My wife and I are going to parade down Market Street.  Come join us!

Pete

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Posted: 23 January 2005 07:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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Jeez, the South is a sadder place than I ever imagined. If people are bored into going to church because there is nothing else to do, then I give up. We have really lost the plot.

Sorry if I sound like an East Coast liberal, I didn’t mean to offend the cultural sensitivities of the red states. I live in Africa where there is no shortage of fun stuff to so, so none of this matters to me much anyway, but I must say that society has lost its way if we have no better option that sitting there talking to imaginary friends.

This is not about the strength of the church - it’s about the failure of American society (in the South at any rate) to create enjoyable passtimes for people and their families. In that I agree with you, but it is a sad conclusion. Is it really that bad?

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Posted: 23 January 2005 07:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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Nietzche, most of your posts reveal an intelligent thinker, and a reasonable man.

However you do have a tendency to poo-poo things.

I accuse thee of intelluctual laziness, instead of trying to understand the real problem people are talking about you move to a defetist postion and then have a drink.

Think for us, my imaginary friend = )

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Posted: 24 January 2005 02:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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Dear Iisbliss,

I think it is perfectly acceptable to be an intelligent and reasonable man, and yet to retire, with a shrug of one’s shoulders, for a quiet drink and an exasperated sigh at the fate of our fellow man.

I can’t solve all the world’s problems. If you get worked up at every irrational comment or crazy belief, you’ll do your head in. The only way to survive in this irrational world is to adopt a detached posture and observe the folly of our species from a distance. My preference is to use the bar as my observation post, and a very good folly-watching spot it is too.

Look, I can understand that the church is strong in the southern states. But that is no excuse for our friend Joe Skeptic to just sit around complaining until he finally succumbs, out of sheer boredom, to the charms of the churchmen. He should stop complaining that nobody has organised a secular social life for him, get off his ass and go and do something fun with his kids that does not involve worshipping supernatural dieties. I can think of a million things. If anyone is being defeatist it is Joe himself.

Anyway, it’s nearly the end of my day and there a cold gin and tonic waiting for me on the stoop. I know this won’t appeal to you snow-loving people of the north, but it’s 30 celcius here and I’ve had enough of the world for one day.

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Posted: 24 January 2005 10:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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Nietzche, as you know I am a simple country girl : )

All I see of Africa is what is on the news, and it is very confusing, and hard to understand what forces are moving on that continent.

I would like to know what you think about where you live.

I am aware there is now an African Union, but not sure what countries are members.  I am also aware of seemingly continous wars, that on the surface seem tribal or ethnic based, but I have no clue what the real reasons are, where the money is. 

I know Islam is a powerful force in many African countries, but am pretty clueless about other religions there.

I would appreciate your insights and thoughts as a resident. = )

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Posted: 24 January 2005 11:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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Africa is a complete mess. Corrupt, inefficient, tribal, bankrupt and often facing the worst that nature can conjure up.

I am not presenting Africa as more ‘advanced’. All I said was that there is never a dull moment here and you certainly never have to complain about a lack of things to stimulate you. Say what you like about Africa, but you know you are alive when you live here.

Which seems to be more than can be said for the southern states. I often think that western europe and the US have spent so long perfecting their societies that they have removed the likelihood that anything spontaneous might ever happen. Man, I cried with laughter when people got so upset about Janet Jackson’s boob at last year’s superbowl. Are these people so short of things to get excited about that this mundane event gets the blood flowing? Faced with such a lack of stimulation, even I might be bored enough to go to church, just to see what was going on.

Yes, Africa is lost in tribal and religious conflict. Africa is so poor that most of its citizens face a daily struggle to just survive. Africa may well be the breeding ground for the next wave of Islamic fundamentalists. And no doubt George Bush will attack Africa, just as soon as he works out where it is. But Africa has lots of excuses to be a mess - America has very few.

Incidentally, if all you ever see of anything is what you see on the news, you will never get a balanced picture. All I ever see of California is Brad’n'Jen, Michael Jackson, Ah-nuld and forest fires. Is that representative? If you really want to learn, go to Amazon and find some good books on African history or some good African Literature. Do yourself a big favor and read ‘Things fall apart’ by Chinua Achebe, one of the best books you will ever read. Enjoy!

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Posted: 25 January 2005 04:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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I use the internet to talk to alot of people in europe, the near east, palestine, isreal, south america, austraila, and now I know one in Africa = )


but you are right, and I will read that book = )

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Posted: 25 January 2005 04:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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Joe Skeptic,

You are absolutely right. I’ve long believed a “secular church” would fill many unmet needs and serve as an anchor for the faithless from cradle to grave. If America ever starts to outgrow faith, religion and the belief in God, I’m sure we will begin to see many varieties of “secular churches” and “secular faiths” sprouting up.

What would a secular church be like? I’m sure it would share many features with faithbased churches. But there would obviously be important differences.

It would need to have some kind of regular service, possibly with music or simple rituals . Of course, God and religion wouldn’t be discussed. But I can see sermons about the big existential questions—How can each of us create a meaningful life in an imperfect world? There might also be discussions about science and ethics. Last Sunday’s discussion would have discusssed the space mission to Titan. But of course, these meetings wouldn’t be aimed at scientists but more towards the general public.

After the service, there would need to be a social gathering, which after all would be the main reason for going. And periodically, there would be weddings and funerals. Where would these services and events take place? In planetariums, universities, and deconsacrated churches.

The “secular church” would of course have to be involved in education, charitable works and healthcare. They would probably run some type of Sunday school where children would learn about the big, bang, evolution,  the golden rule, and the sad history of religion. Charities could consist of disaster relief and aid to the poor. As far as healthcare goes, “the secular church” would establish hospitals, hospices, adoption agencies and even abortion clinics.

I’m sure that late in the century when the first colonies are established on Mars, there will be some type of “secular church” to comfort the lonely pioneers.

I’ve mentioned before that there will be several varieties of “secular churches.” I am sure there will be differences in doctrine, emphasis and style between these organizations and that they will compete for members. Many people will choose not to belong at all.  The faithless are a diverse and quarrelsome group. That is true today, and it will be true in the future.

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