“No way,” I said. “I hate that church.”
Heads raised in surprise. I looked down at my plate of Christmas Eve meatballs, chest swelling and constricting with confusion. I hated that church? Seriously? Wasn’t that an ignorant thing to say? As a Unitarian I’ve always claimed to be open to other ideas and curious about all faiths. I’ve chanted ohm and listened to nondenominational poetry readings, sang in Latin and Hebrew praising different Lords, been baptized twice and for two different religions, claimed to be on the cusp of converting to Judaism and Christianity and Buddhism, all in the space of about two years. I’ve been attracted to boys because I didn’t know much about their beliefs. (All that mystery surrounding your faith! It’s sexy! Oh, tell me more about your customs!)
I’ve devoted my spiritual life to open-mindedness and curiosity, and here I was saying there’d be no fucking way you’d get me three feet the fuck near that church.
“Uh, why do you hate St. Andrew’s?” someone asked.
A reasonable question. The rest of my family liked St. Andrew’s just fine. It’s large, it’s Lutheran, it’s near our house, people sing, there are candles. All nice things, which I usually try to respect.
“Last year they insulted every other belief but their own, and I was offended,” I responded self-importantly. (Also, the preacher kind of had a Billy Graham thing going on that rubbed me the wrong way, but I try not to get wrapped up in aesthetics.) “They went on and on about how obviously, we were only there if we believed certain things, and frankly it just wasn’t very welcoming to newcomers.”
My sister raised an eyebrow, as if to say “whatever, you crazy.” Everyone resumed eating.
Yeah! My brain cried. You hate that church!
It felt amazing to dislike a church, and even more so to say it aloud. I shivered with a strange, foreign glee (which thankfully no one observed aloud), and we continued to debate where we would attend our Christmas Eve services, which faith it would be this year, which pastor — and whether or not we could survive the long, snow-feathered drive into the city without simply falling asleep, slumbering away the birth of someone else’s savior.