Is Your Faith Narcissistic?

(This is a part of my Why I Stopped Going To Church series. You can read part one here, part two here, part two point five here, and part three here.)

Before I move on to the next part, I wanted to expand upon a point I made in part three: stepping away from the Sunday morning expression of church-for now-does not mean that I have stepped away from community, nor do I think one can easily do so while still claiming they are following the Christian tradition in any discernible way. The decisions one makes when they are left alone with their own neuroses and what they think their Bible is saying to them on that day, in what is often a strange historical vacuum, do not tend to be in accordance with the Christian witness.

As an example of what I’m arguing against, I’ll reference here the case of Sheila Larson, who is well known among sociologists of religion for this statement: “I believe in God. I’m not a religious fanatic. I can’t remember the last time I went to church. My faith is Sheilaism. Just my own little voice.” Continue reading

The Spiritual Strenuousness of Silence

Last weekend I joined some family members for a camping trip to Skull Island, a spot about thirty minutes outside of Chattanooga we used to go to at least once or twice a year for a good part of my childhood, all five of us kids and the parents packing like sardines into our big dome tent until my brothers and I came into possession of little one-man G.I. Joe themed pup tents. Instead of spending the weekend fishing, swimming, and biking around the small island, the way I filled my days there growing up, the majority of the weekend was taken up with reading and sitting in silent reflection under the full moon, staring into the fire or off across the water, the lights from the nearby nuclear power plant lighting up the northern sky. That is, during those times when the silence wasn’t shattered by the loud country music or college football games blaring from the car stereos of the rednecks occupying the campsite at the center of the island – and I use the term “redneck” only because of the large rebel flag posted outside their tent with the word “REDNECK” superimposed in big white letters over the center of the flag, next to the confederate flag unadorned with redundant descriptors. Continue reading

Why I Stopped Going to Church, part 3


Read part one here, part two here and part two point five here.

This essay cross-posted from Jesus Needs New PR

“The greatest lie believed today,” my friend, and my pastor at the time, Tom, told those gathered that morning, quoting Larry Crabb, “is that one can know God without being known by someone else.” This statement, even if one chalks it up to hyperbole, is one way of getting at a truth we all instinctively know: we can’t do life alone. Whether one is speaking of life in general or of what we sometimes call the religious parts of life, as if there were a clear dividing line, we were not meant to be solitary creatures. In an attempt to explore reasons for spending time with fellow believers in a deliberate, structured context, Dr. Harold Best, in Unceasing Worship, writes: Continue reading