I can't go to church anymore. I tried, Lord knows. I promised the priest who baptized our children that I would try. But then it started. The people. After a year or so of trying I decided it was best for the rest of the congregation if I just stopped going.
First it was the clerics. Some of them were clearly socialists. I found myself writing rebuttals to their Silent Spring and Population Bomb theology to which, even long after they've been discredited, they continue to cling. Anonymously I would hand in my thoughts. I like to think I was getting to them. But who knows?
Then the church subscribed to video sermons, played on twin mini-jumbotrons on either side of the pulpit. I watched the ridiculous spectacle as the pastor took a seat in the pews and craned his neck to view the gospel music video. This was too much. I grabbed another prayer card and chastised the church for marginalizing the wonderful talent of the congregation as well as our excellent organist. The organ itself is an amazing device darkened by nameless, faceless, two dimensional video "choir."
On my second and last such back-of-the-prayer-card missive, I offered to fill any gaps in Sunday service content they felt needed to be filled by the video gospel, with my own brand of sermonizing. The next Sunday's sermon was devoted to gently reminding me that it was for the church to decided on how best to minister to the flock.
Then it was the worshipful themselves. It occurred to me that the only reason people go to my church, it seemed, was to cough. For some reason, some people find occasional moments of silence that break up a typical Sunday service irresistible. They take it upon themselves to fill these reflective voids of noise with their expectoration's. Cough! Here I am! I think they do it because they lack attention otherwise. And who is going to throw them out of church for coughing?
I looked around at these coughers. They are healthy, young men and women. After the service in the fellowship hall I'd expected to see them in an oxygen tent. But no. There they were, gabbing away, laughing politely. On one special service, I think it was Easter, a group of elderly ladies sat in the pew in front of us. For the entire hour, these ladies managed to breath normally in and out. They must have been 99 years old each. Meanwhile, all around them, healthy young men and women were hacking away. But only during moments of silence!
And so I became neurotic, obsessed with the people in the church; obsessed with analyzing their every move. I tried shutting them out. It is rude, apparently, to use an iPod in church. I had to sit in the very back because I was obsessed with idea of people coughing on the back of my neck.