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Well... As the title states, recently (as in June 2nd) was my first time going to Church. Now, having said that, I was taken to Church by my grandparents when my mother was in the hospital a decade or so ago back when I was a single-digiter. However this was the first time I, by my own will, attended Mass. And it was an otherwordly experience...

First off: my initial intent was simply to find out when Sunday Mass is--so at around 2:00pm I headed out for my local Roman Catholic Church. I knew where it was because, a year or two ago, it was a place I handed my resume to back when I was green in the work world and I remembered how beautiful the church itself was; with twin statues guarding the front entrance, a tall and proud cross high above, and stained-glass windows facing the dirty streets around it. It was like a pear among a mine full of coals. 

However the office where one would "sign himself up" (so to speak--I am still quite ignorant of the proper terms and procedures) was closed and I noticed Mass would be held at 4:30. I was curious about whether or not I should wait (by the time I got there, it was around 2:30) so I checked out the beautiful interior architecture; from a wreathed statue of the Virgin to the massive cross bearing Christ over a tabernacle (also the day I learned what that word meant and what it represented) to the portraits of various saints along the walls that framed the upper church (there was a lower-roofed "lower church" underneath!).

A church boy told me that confession was going to be held at 3:00, so I waited and then spoke to the reverend who helped educate me about how I can properly officiate myself as a Roman Catholic as well as gave me a brief confession which is when I briefly introduced myself as someone who was seeking wisdom and virtue after having left Socialism a few years ago. I don't recall much of the moment as it wasn't all that special, as it was more an introduction and guidance to entry rather than a proper confession. I then sat an empty pew and contemplated in prayer what I was doing, what it meant, and why I was doing it all. Ultimately I was going to Church not because I believed in God but rather because I believed in the word of God and the wisdom and power behind it.

Eventually, Mass was time and sadly I was perhaps the only young person in the audience. It was mostly old people, surprisingly nearly all white. The only young people were a couple converts from India or Korea, though I kept to myself and mostly just spoke to the old woman behind me to help me keep up with the Mass (like what page number the priest at the podium was reading from, or the singer was singing from). 

Perhaps the most meaningful part, however, was when the reverend I spoke to earlier taught about the desire for recognition. He opened rather simply; "Have you ever spoken to someone, and then they look over your shoulder as if looking for someone more interesting? Or perhaps speak 'hello' to someone only for them to look away and ignore you?..." and from there proceeded to talk about the desire some have for recognition and then tied it to Jesus; stating something like: "Jesus did not do what He did for fame, but rather so that others might learn from Him". At the time I thought little of it as... isn't that common sense? Isn't it better to focus on doing good rather than seeking recognition for it? However when I spoke to my Father later on about it, he helped me realize how relevant it actually was.

You see, the 4 reasons as to why I decided to go to Church were: Wisdom, Faith, Family, and Fraternity. Basically I wanted to improve myself and perhaps make some friends from among the parishioners over time. However... I was pulling the cart before the horse. I was going not for the strictest reason of seeking God (or wisdom) but rather for the effects of this. And that's why, when I went to Mass today (Sunday), I went with the singular purpose of leaving with wisdom rather than for the secondary gains that might come with seeking out the best folks in my area.

And today's mass was largely the same as yesterday's but with a younger man (perhaps the pastor) giving it and sadly without the wise sermon in between the songs and readings. I focused more on the readings this time as they were the same as yesterday's so I could absorb it more.

I think they were under "Corpus Christi" or something; I know the story went something like Moses sacrificing half his livestock to an altar of God and then sprinkling some of it onto the disciples followed by Jesus sending forth a disciple to arrange for passover in another disciple's house in a city. Not sure what wisdom I ought to extract from this, other then take it as part of a larger story on both sides. Perhaps next Sunday, when I go for Mass, the story will continue and become clearer to me (I ought to mention the masses are mostly scripted a year in advance, apparently). 

Overall it was a very enlightening experience with few distractions. I was quite anxious for today's mass as I was thinking last night whether I was doing it for the right reasons and whether or not I was being honest with myself.

To be clear: I don't know if I believe in God or not. I am tempted to say I don't, yet a part of me is inclined to believe there is either due to an instinct to believe or the logic that something must have caused the Big Bang...

...And, if I don't really believe in God, then why I am going to Church? Quite simply: for wisdom, guidance, and a place to think over my week and prepare for the next. These things I got for myself and I am happy though still hungry. Tomorrow I'll be making a call for a meeting and stuff to properly initiate myself back into my ancestral church, and I will make it a regular thing for me to attend mass on Sundays. 

And, to be clear on the point of sharing this, I am curious what folks think around here. Both the atheists and the Christians. Am I doing the right thing in seeking wisdom from the Church and broadening my fountains of wisdom or am I perhaps being deceitful by not being fully a believer yet going to Church? 

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I attend an Episcopal church and am pretty much in the same place. It gives me a regularly scheduled time and place to leave all earthly, material concerns behind and focus on who I am and whether I am living up to my potential. Am I living according to my principals and so on? Be honest and confess where I have been lax. Refocus on what is important. Renew my commitment to being a better human being today than yesterday. I currently have to listen to a liberal minister preach what is not gospel but politics. However, a new rector is close to being chosen and we shall see. If this continues I may have to find another church. Perhaps I will look to the Catholic church -- though I still highly favor the Anglican church which leaves out the pope. The services are much the same. Yes, predetermined on a yearly basis. Lots of repetition of things which helps to focus on the words later when you don't have to think about it so much because you are familiar with it. In my church if I were to do the daily recommended readings, in two years I would complete the New Testament twice and the Old Testament once. I like the singing as well. :)

 

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2 hours ago, villagewisdom said:

I attend an Episcopal church and am pretty much in the same place. It gives me a regularly scheduled time and place to leave all earthly, material concerns behind and focus on who I am and whether I am living up to my potential. Am I living according to my principals and so on? Be honest and confess where I have been lax. Refocus on what is important. Renew my commitment to being a better human being today than yesterday. I currently have to listen to a liberal minister preach what is not gospel but politics. However, a new rector is close to being chosen and we shall see. If this continues I may have to find another church. Perhaps I will look to the Catholic church -- though I still highly favor the Anglican church which leaves out the pope. The services are much the same. Yes, predetermined on a yearly basis. Lots of repetition of things which helps to focus on the words later when you don't have to think about it so much because you are familiar with it. In my church if I were to do the daily recommended readings, in two years I would complete the New Testament twice and the Old Testament once. I like the singing as well. :)

Thank you for your words, but I have had an internal struggle regarding my Church attendance: mainly that I don't really believe in God and therefore feel guilty and deceitful for trying to copy the rituals that I don't believe in and associate with more seriously faithful people. I haven't made my final decision yet, but currently I intend to stop going to Church because... Well, I'll continue down below since barn hit what was in my mind a couple nights ago.

2 hours ago, barn said:

... as long as you are honest.

As long as you are honest...

And that's why I have a problem. I don't feel like I really belong because I know I'm not going for the right reasons. I don't really believe in God though I believe the Bible and the Roman Catholic Church has a lot of wisdom, and thus I feel like a cheat since I'm trying to have the benefit of a parish while not really being religious. 

How do I explain? I sort of arrived to many of the same conclusions as the Church but with a different methodology. And while I strongly value the experiences I had, I have to admit that it just confirmed for me that I am not a true Christian. I am an atheist. However; I am a Roman Catholic. It's confusing, for me anyway. 

I believe in the 10 Commandments and all that but not because I believe in a literal God but because I believe them to be morally correct from all the listening to moral experts (from all over the spectrum) and trying to reason it all out in my head. I wish I had the same faith and religiosity as those parishioners had; I could sense the love and fraternity in the air but I also sense myself as not belonging. I don't believe in God, I don't believe in the power of incantations, but I do believe in the word of God and the placebo effect that can come from the incantations.

I really envy those that have a genuine religiosity to them because I don't think I'll ever have it. I love my Church and all the good its done the world and (indirectly) me, but I can't falsify and pretend to be a true believer. I don't have it in me to deceive the best people in my crappy area. I just don't.

Overall: it was a very educational experience and from what I can tell, the Church near me is actually not very political (or the be precise: not directly in favor of the likes of the Left or Right or whatnot) and they speak of morality and truth instead--thus expecting us to make conclusions from there.

I do recommend the Catholic Church because although the Anti-Pope Francis is... well, un-Christian, the Church itself is not one person. It is a set-in-stone ideology that has lasted roughly 2,000 years and every Church has the same script for what to preach on a given Mass date as well as the same set of principles to give sermons from. The sermons were, although only a few minutes, the most interesting part for me because I found both of them (I forgot the second and did not mention it: it involved an Old man who saved his son's friend rather than his son because he though of God and knew his son would go to Heaven while the friend would surely go to Hell, and by the "present time" of the story the friend became a pastor thus redeeming himself) to be thought-provoking, deep, yet spoken very simply and easily digested.

However I think I can get these sermons from folks on the Internet directly and thus get the "good part" as I want it rather than spread out. Although I don't mind the singing and reading of both Moses and Jesus's histories, I have to say the sermons are the meat of the matter. 

And ultimately, I wish to be both honest with myself and my parish and thus don't want to deceive them by attending Church for Mass when I don't believe in it.

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Am I doing the right thing in seeking wisdom from the Church and broadening my fountains of wisdom or am I perhaps being deceitful by not being fully a believer yet going to Church? 

Yeah, but I am afraid you are going to the wrong place. The Roman Catholic Church is one of the most pozzed institutions there is. I like visiting the SSPX who are more serious or a Russian Orthodox church, who are closer to me culturally.

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On 6/4/2018 at 7:39 PM, Siegfried von Walheim said:

 

I grew up Catholic.  I attended weekly mass.  I never detected any fellowship or fraternal love.  We used to call our fellow parishoners "stone faces" for all the joy they exuded.

I lost interest in mass when I realised it was the same 156 Bible passages year in, year out.  Man is made in the image of God and yet nothing intellectual is offered by His church in mass.  There are plenty of controversial passages, why not challenge people?  Perhaps most people are going for their spiritual mush ration.

What Terence McKenna said about psychedelic drugs also, methinks, applies to church:  "When you get the message, hang up the phone."

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Paraphrasing Stefan Molyneux

- "Love is our involuntary reaction to virtue if we are virtuous ourselves." -

Similarly to the Dunning-Kruger effect, I believe smart & virtuous (more the later + its anti-___, too) can recognise on 'sight' what's really valuable.

There's a big set of 'sharable' objectives, many-many possible points of probable connectivity, potential for learning from each other ... why focus on the diametrically opposing, the 'dead-ends'? Why not just be honest and provide/ask for the best, be helpful and not destructive/offensive, be grateful for what's good?

It's like,

'My dentist is magnificent, the best in the trade. However, lately have been considering looking for another because I found out he is about to divorce his third wife and has 3 kids. I don't think I can see him again with clear conscience.'

(additionally - I'm no advocate of utilitarianism)

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7 hours ago, barn said:

Paraphrasing Stefan Molyneux

- "Love is our involuntary reaction to virtue if we are virtuous ourselves." -

Similarly to the Dunning-Kruger effect, I believe smart & virtuous (more the later + its anti-___, too) can recognise on 'sight' what's really valuable.

There's a big set of 'sharable' objectives, many-many possible points of probable connectivity, potential for learning from each other ... why focus on the diametrically opposing, the 'dead-ends'? Why not just be honest and provide/ask for the best, be helpful and not destructive/offensive, be grateful for what's good?

It's like,

'My dentist is magnificent, the best in the trade. However, lately have been considering looking for another because I found out he is about to divorce his third wife and has 3 kids. I don't think I can see him again with clear conscience.'

(additionally - I'm no advocate of utilitarianism)

This last part, the dentist analogy, is sort of where I'm at with Church. I don't really believe in God but I am a Roman Catholic and I feel a pain in my chest when I think about whether or not to attend Church. I have not decided whether or not I should because on one hand I want to go with the right reasons and be true and honest but on the other I don't really believe in God so that's dishonest and thus morally questionable.

For now I'm thinking I'll go again next Sunday since it's only an hour and a half and it might give me closure on whether or not I should go. I have one leg it and one leg out, so to speak. I don't know if I should or shouldn't because on one hand it has a clear track record for building (Western) civilizations and on the other I am not truly religious and thus not really a part of the grand system. 

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On 06/04/2018 at 11:50 PM, barn said:

... as long as you are honest.

As long as you are honest...

Humans are social beings, wanting to be part of a group is intrinsic (mainly) to the specie. It's just what it is. Longing for 'connection'... I understand.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

So, let's say someone was about to endeavour on a journey with explorers and had put out a call for new recruits.

The first guy comes in and says:

" Sorry for most likely disappointing some of you... but here's the deal. I'm here to make my fortune, earn my share and profit. For that I'll work hard and not let you down, I give you my word. Take it or leave it. Thank you, I trust your judgement."

As he's leaving, the second candidate walks in smiling and with open arms...

" Brothers and sisters! The reason for me being here is to join your mighty and divine mission, I too am touched by the higher call. Choose me, a true soul for your journey, let us be guided by virtuous light from above. "

Soon, he leaves as well. People start voting on which candidate to finally settle for...

Which one would YOU take for 'the journey' ?

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44 minutes ago, barn said:

Humans are social beings, wanting to be part of a group is intrinsic (mainly) to the specie. It's just what it is. Longing for 'connection'... I understand.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

So, let's say someone was about to endeavour on a journey with explorers and had put out a call for new recruits.

The first guy comes in and says:

" Sorry for most likely disappointing some of you... but here's the deal. I'm here to make my fortune, earn my share and profit. For that I'll work hard and not let you down, I give you my word. Take it or leave it. Thank you, I trust your judgement."

As he's leaving, the second candidate walks in smiling and with open arms...

" Brothers and sisters! The reason for me being here is to join your mighty and divine mission, I too am touched by the higher call. Choose me, a true soul for your journey, let us be guided by virtuous light from above. "

Soon, he leaves as well. People start voting on which candidate to finally settle for...

Which one would YOU take for 'the journey' ?

If it was a war (especially a holy one), guy # 2. If it's something more technical and less religiously inclined, guy #1. 

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Interesting. I would never consider #2, be it peace or war-time. To much abstractions, zero 'visibility' of personal incentives...risky-er than #1.

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1 hour ago, barn said:

Interesting. I would never consider #2, be it peace or war-time. To much abstractions, zero 'visibility' of personal incentives...risky-er than #1.

Modern Skinner-ian war might nullify the advantage of fanaticism, but historically the guys that took their war seriously and wanted to win for something beyond themselves were terrors on the battlefield. 

However I can certainly see #2 being more con-man than fanatic outside war. At least in war even if he's all-talk, he'll inspire the men around him into being truly zealous. And a zealous army can scare a meek army from even fighting!

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I think you're doing the abstraction 'thing' right now (above, last).

Maybe it's nothing but I'm gonna put it out there...

You're being chosen on the compatibility of your value-systems by those that you express a desire joining to. You do the same too.

Same as when no-one can be within your guarded zone, unless you allow them entry. Thinking that we can decide whose allies are we going to become is impossible, unless they concede but that's not our decision to make, independent from our will. Thinking it isn't, well that's illusory and incorrect.

The most efficient way to help others (and ourselves) choosing efficiently & truthfully is to be honest about our intentions and strengths/weaknesses (given they won't immediately use it against us, but I'm assuming that much has been filtered out a priori).

Honesty requires 'coming clean' and 'risking' rejection in order for true acceptance being possible.

In example:

¿: I'm not a believer, not considering to take up faith but I feel really good amongst you people, is it ok if I stay?

! : We like / don't like / need you to / have to / go away / we'll see when we got to know you... etc.

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I am strongly considering going to a baptist church but I keep coming up with excuses. I just can't imagine stepping into a church as much as I am comfortable being atheist, I am mainly there for the chicks.

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On 6/10/2018 at 8:23 PM, smarterthanone said:

I am strongly considering going to a baptist church but I keep coming up with excuses. I just can't imagine stepping into a church as much as I am comfortable being atheist, I am mainly there for the chicks.

You seriously make me laugh all the time. My husband used to say the same thing. 

 

On 6/4/2018 at 8:39 PM, Siegfried von Walheim said:

And that's why I have a problem. I don't feel like I really belong because I know I'm not going for the right reasons. I don't really believe in God though I believe the Bible and the Roman Catholic Church has a lot of wisdom, and thus I feel like a cheat since I'm trying to have the benefit of a parish while not really being religious. 

I have not been able to go to church because of this. I want to go. I deeply want the community and the beauty and the reflection and encouraged, collective seeking of something better, but when the service is over and people began chatting, it inevitably comes up that I don't really believe in God and then I am either ostracized or I find myself tempted to lie and try to just blend in. I grew up in a Protestant church, and went to a few Catholic services when my first son was born, but have not been back since. 

 

On 6/4/2018 at 5:40 PM, villagewisdom said:

I like the singing as well. :)

Yes!!! I grew up in a church called the Church of Christ, and all our singing was a capella. Because of that, most of the people in the congregation could read the sight notes and could harmonize half way decent. I sang in the symphony orchestra before my kids, and now that I don't go to church, I have really lost a beautiful thing. People don't just sit around in groups and sing their hearts out without a compulsory reason, and it really is a heartbreak to lose that. I sing to my kids, but frankly, my lone voice is not the same as singing with your whole body and being in the midst of a giant chorus. 

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5 minutes ago, Elizbaeth said:

I have not been able to go to church because of this. I want to go. I deeply want the community and the beauty and the reflection and encouraged, collective seeking of something better, but when the service is over and people began chatting, it inevitably comes up that I don't really believe in God and then I am either ostracized or I find myself tempted to lie and try to just blend in. I grew up in a Protestant church, and went to a few Catholic services when my first son was born, but have not been back since. 

Well, I think you understand very well my problem then. I understand and believe in the word of Christ, but I don't really believe in God and feel terrible implicitly lying to myself and others by acting as if I do. 

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On 6/10/2018 at 8:23 PM, smarterthanone said:

I am strongly considering going to a baptist church but I keep coming up with excuses. I just can't imagine stepping into a church as much as I am comfortable being atheist, I am mainly there for the chicks.

A BAPTIST church? I'm pretty sure they're full of single moms if I know what the Baptist Church is... Isn't it basically the "black church"? And if decent black women can't find a decent black man at church, I doubt you could find a decent woman at a Baptist Church either! Besides, as an atheist you could never cement it with a real Christian. They'd either have to not love you enough to try to "save you" or they aren't really Christians. However there is a middle ground of "cultural Christians" who hold the values but don't share the same methodology for getting them. Problem is there's a lot of them and they come in many shapes and sizes. 

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On 6/12/2018 at 3:20 PM, Siegfried von Walheim said:

A BAPTIST church? I'm pretty sure they're full of single moms if I know what the Baptist Church is... Isn't it basically the "black church"? And if decent black women can't find a decent black man at church, I doubt you could find a decent woman at a Baptist Church either! Besides, as an atheist you could never cement it with a real Christian. They'd either have to not love you enough to try to "save you" or they aren't really Christians. However there is a middle ground of "cultural Christians" who hold the values but don't share the same methodology for getting them. Problem is there's a lot of them and they come in many shapes and sizes. 

No. Baptist is the predominant denomination in the southeastern US. Black churches around here are baptist and so are white churches. If you go to a different denomination in this area, you are going to a specialty church. There are 6 churches within a 1m radius of where I live, 4 are baptist, 1 non denominational and 1 something else I think some specific protestant sect. This is the white area of town so they are all predominantly white. 2 of the baptists ones are quite large, 1 is medium and 1 is small. The non denominational one is medium and the other idk what it is is small.

I am more traditional than even most traditional Christians, so I actually get along with them quite well. I usually just say I like to make my study personal and prefer to just read the bible and think on my own time, in order to avoid lots of conversations. I also dont mind discussing high level things where philosophy comes in (not apologetics stuff) but more practical level moral philosophy and I don't mind discussing history. And most of the christians I know haven't given me a hard time at all about being an atheist. I don't try and rub it in their face but if I live the life they don't really seem to mind.

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On 6/12/2018 at 3:20 PM, Siegfried von Walheim said:

A BAPTIST church? I'm pretty sure they're full of single moms if I know what the Baptist Church is... Isn't it basically the "black church"? And if decent black women can't find a decent black man at church, I doubt you could find a decent woman at a Baptist Church either! Besides, as an atheist you could never cement it with a real Christian. They'd either have to not love you enough to try to "save you" or they aren't really Christians. However there is a middle ground of "cultural Christians" who hold the values but don't share the same methodology for getting them. Problem is there's a lot of them and they come in many shapes and sizes. 

I think it might benefit you to investigate the Baptist church and black culture a little bit more. Or perhaps you are not in the US? The intact and virtuous black family in the US is largely held together (as much as it is) by the "black church" (whatever that means). The black families that are strongly Christian specifically look to pair the women and men that have credibility in the church -- whatever sect or group. Family members can still be called out and ostracized for lack of virtue within these communities, including the Baptist community. That is not to say that everyone in the church is virtuous. What I am saying is that there is a much greater likelihood of finding someone who at least accepts personal responsibility for their choices within the Baptist church and, more importantly, within any church. 

And I forgot to mention that, while a large portion of the black population may attend a Baptist church, it is by no means exclusively or even close to being the "black church" -- again, at least in the US. I'm attaching a Pew Research article. While 78% of the black population in the study attended church, 45% (of the 78%) attended a Baptist church (see chart). 

http://www.pewforum.org/2009/01/30/a-religious-portrait-of-african-americans/ 

This article also notes that persons in the black religious community are more likely to be pro-life. Here's a quote from the article: 

"For instance, just as in the general public, African-Americans who are more religiously observant (as defined by frequency of worship service attendance and the importance of religion in their lives) are more likely to oppose abortion and homosexuality and more likely to report higher levels of conservative ideology."

I would never attend a Baptist church as their services are vastly different, however, that is no reason to judge them harshly. IMO :)

 

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16 hours ago, smarterthanone said:

No. Baptist is the predominant denomination in the southeastern US. Black churches around here are baptist and so are white churches. If you go to a different denomination in this area, you are going to a specialty church. There are 6 churches within a 1m radius of where I live, 4 are baptist, 1 non denominational and 1 something else I think some specific protestant sect. This is the white area of town so they are all predominantly white. 2 of the baptists ones are quite large, 1 is medium and 1 is small. The non denominational one is medium and the other idk what it is is small.

Well, that's all news to me. What's so different about Baptists compared to other churches? May be necessary for you since if you seriously want to try being the atheist husband to a Christian woman, you'd probably want to figure out what's distinctive about Baptist churches compared to others.

16 hours ago, smarterthanone said:

I am more traditional than even most traditional Christians, so I actually get along with them quite well. I usually just say I like to make my study personal and prefer to just read the bible and think on my own time, in order to avoid lots of conversations. I also dont mind discussing high level things where philosophy comes in (not apologetics stuff) but more practical level moral philosophy and I don't mind discussing history. And most of the christians I know haven't given me a hard time at all about being an atheist. I don't try and rub it in their face but if I live the life they don't really seem to mind.

The problem (and I don't mean my problem but one I think you'll have in the long run if you try for a Christian woman) is that you're lying and deceiving. You're acting like a Christian even though you're an atheist. Even if you're a good liar and a sociopath your woman will eventually figure it out I doubt you could have a good marriage with a woman you regularly lied about yourself to. 

The main reason why I decided to stop going to church was because I didn't really believe in God. I don't want to call myself an atheist because I do have moral values even if I don't have a rational methodology for them... but I am definitely not a real believer and I don't want to build relationships from deceit. 

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On 6/15/2018 at 11:11 AM, Siegfried von Walheim said:

Well, that's all news to me. What's so different about Baptists compared to other churches? May be necessary for you since if you seriously want to try being the atheist husband to a Christian woman, you'd probably want to figure out what's distinctive about Baptist churches compared to others.

The problem (and I don't mean my problem but one I think you'll have in the long run if you try for a Christian woman) is that you're lying and deceiving. You're acting like a Christian even though you're an atheist. Even if you're a good liar and a sociopath your woman will eventually figure it out I doubt you could have a good marriage with a woman you regularly lied about yourself to. 

The main reason why I decided to stop going to church was because I didn't really believe in God. I don't want to call myself an atheist because I do have moral values even if I don't have a rational methodology for them... but I am definitely not a real believer and I don't want to build relationships from deceit. 

No. I mean I tell them I don't believe in god. I just don't say it every 5 seconds and challenge them any time they say god. Half the girls ive met that are regular church goers dont actually believe either. It really hasn't ever caused me any kind of problem at all. That being said I am not currently going to church but I do intend to sooner than later.

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In some regions of Poland "doesn't even go to church" is the worst thing someone can say about you. Just a fun fact.

I have witnessed hundreds if not thousands of people at their first mass, and if it makes you feel better, I haven't seen any of them feeling comfortable. In fact, my favourite comment I heard was "it's a weird religion, according to which we have to look at a dead guy nailed on the wall for an hour every week". There are of course a lot of bizarre things catholics do, and it would take a lot of studying if you wanted to understand them all; most people don't, and that's perfectly fine, because catholicism does not demand you to understand everything. To intellectual types it is a hard thing to accept that Christianity seems so irrational. What you can do in that case is remind yourself that a lot of people a lot smarter than you could accept the religion.

This a bit of a tangent, but I have heard so many people rhetorically ask "why don't intelligent people in various religions agree if they are all so intelligent?" The answer is that theology is not principally about facts or reason, but about values, and values are not up for debate. The difference between a Muslim and a Christian is not that one thinks Yahwae is the true god and the other thinks Allah is. The difference is that one values faith, charity and hope, and the other values faith, obedience and struggle. There is no intellectual debate to be had between Islam and Christianity.

If you want to intellectually understand what the mass is about, that's great, good luck. Above all however, you must see that the mass is a place for you express faith, act charitably, and fuel hope. If you manage to garner a reputation among the Poles that you don't go to church, it doesn't simply mean that they see you as a lazy bastard, but they view you as someone who doesn't share their morals, doesn't support the weak and the poor, and does not care for the afterlife. 

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