Earlier this year I set out on my epic quest for wordlessness and spirituality. I started with my daily moment in a van down by the river and then, based on suggestions from the comment gallery, I started going to church.
Joel, who is always up for an adventure (especially when it involves him being within eye-shot of my church-dress cleavage), insisted on tagging along. We started at the Unitarian Church, followed that with a visit to the First Christians, and by the time we hit the First African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church of North Portland, we were HOOKED. We couldn't stop ourselves from writing about it if we tried.
So a blog was born:
One atheist ex-Jehovah's Witness. One lifelong apathetic agnostic.
Every week for a year, we're going to hit a different church. Then we're going to write about it.
If only it were that simple.
Joel wants to warn you all in advance:
Since we're both the kind of impious delinquents who get our thrills pissing people off, this blog won't be for the religiously faint of heart. If you're a believer, you might want to slip on a pair of steel toed boots before visiting our page. As a former longtime member of the Jehovah's Witnesses, I admit that I may have issues with religion in general. So accept my apologies in advance for any snark, sarcasm, cynicism or otherwise bitter remarks. Hey, if you were forbidden to masturbate for 30 years, you'd get a little edgy too.
But that's not to say we don't have serious intent.
We write our reviews with one criterion in mind. Regarding humankind's amazing variety of music, Duke Ellington famously said, “if it sounds good, it is good.” That's the benchmark we will use to evaluate every religious services we attend. You're invited to agree, to disagree, or, if you really don't like what we write, to start your own blog. What we do promise is to be as honest as we can about our experiences.
This is more than a religion blog. It's more than the sum of 50 church reviews. It's more than a blog about my spirtual journey. Or Joel's. It's a blog about us. And how every Sunday we force ourselves out of our comfort zones - because neither of us is even remotely comfortable in a church pew - together. Basically, we're bringing you along on our weekly scheduled dates with God. Sure, it's a journalist endeavor, but what you're really getting is a love story.
Most of you knew I was in love with him before I did, but you'll have to click through and go read the rest of this post about the AMEZ Church to see how I let HIM know it:
My favorite part came at the end, when a procession of tall, proud, perfectly-groomed black men and women rose from the pews to pay their tithes. The clang of their pocket change hitting that brass collection bowl resonated with something deep and glorious inside of me.
Not God. Or religion. Or faith. Or even spirituality, but something far more enviable: LOVE.
I wanted to heed that preachers' words:
See, I had something burning a hole in my pocket too. Three little words I'd been itching to spend for weeks.
I was terrified to utter them because the last time I told a man I loved him, he said it back to me, came, and then... went. I never saw him again.
But FEAR NOT, the Presiding Prelate had reassured me, he is with you.
Emboldened by the sermon, I spent that Sunday aching to finally get the weight of those words off my tongue.
We have big plans for this blog. So far we've seen a Catholic Church, a Buddhist Temple and we have plans to go Mormon, Jewish, Muslim, Jehovah's Witness and even check out an AA meeting or two. If you have a church in mind that you'd like us to review, please go visit and leave us a comment. Just be prepared to have it reviewed in all its glory. We promise only to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help us... God?