Critics and fans alike colloquially refer to the organization as an atheist church, but the founders prefer to think of their group as “the best bits of church, but with no religion, and super pop tunes.” Sermons can include anything from a “reading from Alice in Wonderland to a power-point presentation from a particle physicist,” according to the BBC.
Jones and Evans see their Sunday congregations as a fun alternative to the meetings held by Humanist and Unitarians– which Jones calls “dour.”
“Why on earth aren’t people clapping and dancing around and jumping up and down at those gatherings?” he wondered in an interview with ABC News.
There’s more about the atheist church here.
Meanwhile Rea Nolan and author who thinks she likes Pope Francis (except for the “no women priests” bit) is very pleased with his warm welcome of all, but she takes exception to being called a sinner. She admits in her article that she does sin, but doesn’t like to be defined as “a sinner”
We all sin to varying degrees and frequencies, depending on our definitions of sin, which might vary in the context of our indulgent culture. We humans are as imperfect as anything else you’re likely to find on this entropic three-dimensional plane. We’re a bit lazy or maybe a lot. Even the best of us gravitates toward breakdown, decay, potato chips, hot fudge sundaes, a few glasses of cabernet and the most convenient way of getting anything done, which often involves corner-cutting. And well, sinning.
Uh huh. So “sin” is having that extra piece of chocolate cake…
Rea goes on with her “we are stardust” version of Christian theology strengthened with a pull quote from St Theresa of Avila taken out of context.
Not just Christ, she says, but all of humanity was “made God”. This includes you, me and Francis. This is the higher bar. This is a bar we have to climb a few ladders, stand on tiptoes, and lean forward to reach. This is a bar worth reaching.
I often think if we filed the emblem ‘sinner’ into the folder: Older Paradigms of Victim Consciousness, and opened the folder: Children of the Most High — we might work a little harder at cleaning up our imperfections. After all, by every account we are created in the image and likeness of God. My true identity is a child of divinity, who in partnership with that divinity (as well as with my husband) co-created two magnificent children. I truly hope that those two magnificent young men will humbly reject the destructive identity of sinner on their way to claiming the divine legacy to which they and all of us are truly destined.
So if not sinners, then who are we really? We are noble creatures endowed with a wealth of holy spiritual gifts that we are charged to develop and share generously with each other, the animal kingdom and the earth. If we see ourselves that way, maybe we’ll behave that way. Who we tell ourselves we are, matters.
It seems to me that both the atheist comedians who want to start a church and Rea the author want what’s good and totally miss the point of genuine Catholic theology. Rea pretends she is saying something new. In fact, she’s falling like the amateur she is into a predictable heresy. A heresy, remember, is not a total untruth, but either a partial truth or a truth emphasized to the exclusion of another truth.
All Rea says is true. We are children of God. We are created good in God’s image. We are destined to eternal greatness. What she forgets is that we’re not there yet. The saints show us what that final fulfillment of God’s destiny for each of us really is, and comparing herself or me (or anyone else for that matter) to that fully radiant, completed handiwork of God we call a saint is kind of like comparing a kid who’s learned to play Chopsticks to Chopin. This is the curse of our modern age–a kind of sentimental amateurism based on a hokey good idea.
What I’m trying to glean that is good out of the amateur comedians who are starting a religion and Rea the author is that they want something good. Indeed, they want something grand. They want goodness–the abundant life–the fullness of humanity–the great, full and positive life that God wants for all of us.
Their problem is that they think it can be accomplished with a little bit of positive thinking, a splash of team work and a boost to our self esteem.
They want religion to be fun. No mistake that it’s being formed by a couple of comedians.
Our problem, as Christians, is that too often we have not showed them the path to this eternal life, and if they blame our religion for being sour and dour and boring and bland and stale and hypocritical and negative…
…then I cannot completely disagree with them.
Should religion be fun? No. It should be an adventure, and adventure is something more than fun. Remember Bilbo Baggins defined an adventure as “Something that when you are in the middle of it you wish you were sitting at home in front of the fire.”