This morning, this atheist did what what she does every Sunday morning. I went to church. I am a paid soloist/section leader at a church in Hartford, aka a "ringer". Although I don't believe in the Bible, and I don't believe in a benevolent (although also angry and jealous) deity who has a plan for me, and I don't believe that I'm a born sinner and that one Jesus Christ redeemed my sins by dying on a cross, I love good music, and faith in God inspired some really beautiful music. I'm lucky enough to work at a church that has an excellent music program - the adult choir is headed up by an incredibly knowledgeble Director of Music Ministry, and we sing challenging and gorgeous music. The children's music program teaches kids not just to sing "This Little Light of Mine", they teach kids how to read music, they teach them how to play some instruments, and my younger daughter, at age 6, is already a pretty good sight reader of music. (She does have an advantage, though - she has nearly perfect pitch).
Since we are currently deep in the season of Lent, the music right now is heavy on the "I'm a filthy sinner" sentiment, but even so, it can be really beautiful. (One of the the songs we did today was "Wash Me Throughly" - lyrics are: "wash me throughly from my wickedness and forgive me all my sins". Not terribly inspiring lyrics to me (although I'm sure appealing to a flagellating sort like David Brooks, who likes his religion to be tough instead of touchy feely), but the music is very moving.
I actually like going to church. The people there are very nice, it's a liberal church that does a lot of good work, and I don't think you have to believe in God to get something out of a well written sermon.
I was raised Catholic, and I dreaded church every Sunday. We had a choir full of 90 year old warblers who never attempted singing anything other than unison. The ritual of the church bored me, I felt like it was the same thing week after week. I sing at a Congregational church, which has *some* ritual, but not like a Catholic Mass (If someone gets me started, I can recite the whole portion of the Mass that repeats every week, and I haven't been to a Catholic Mass in several years.) This caused some stress in my family, which is heavily Irish Catholic (3 nuns and 1 priest among my aunts and uncles), but then my cousin took the pressure off by converting to Orthodox Judaism.
I know this is a horribly rambling post, with no point. I'm very tired after an extremely busy weekend, and I didn't want to let another day go by without posting. So I'll try to be more coherent next post!