Just how hypocritical am I?

I am an agnostic, which is much like being an atheist without the annoying unholier-than-thou sanctimony. :wink: I am also a member in good standing of my parish and the parish librarian. I drive my daughter to choir practice and whatever Lutherans call their mass, but I skip services when I’m on site because they bore me. Instead I surf the net, gab with friends, or strip from the library all the old crap I judge theologically inappropriate–Dobson, Graham, Peale, Baptists because they annoy me, Presbyterians because I cannot fit predestination into my concept of Christianity, and plain ol’ glurge that nobody has checked out in thirty years. Thirty because of the Thirty Years War, of course!

Bear in mind that I came into this world with “Future Jesuit” stamped on my forehead and I’m approaching this purge with the appropriate fervor, setting books aside based solely on their publishers in some cases. Like Scripture Press of Wheaton, IL. I lived for years next door and their mere presence on my doorstep kept my mind full of happy thoughts of stakes and fire. Today I am not remotely religious, but my mind still wanders back to the good ol’ days.

I help these people because they have helped me when I needed it. They are my friends and I agree with most of their mission. Shit, my pastor is the unofficial chaplain to my AA group because he’s willing to conduct their funeral services when nobody else will. That is my understanding of doing God’s work, though I’m openminded regarding which God we’re talking about. See, I like the idea of a God, though not as fond as I am of the idea of many Gods, which would be awesome. And I’m okay with none, and my fellow parishoners who know about are still okay with me.

However, a discussion with the father of one of my daughter’s friends got me thinking. He’s an Atheist and believes me to be a traitor to the Cause because I not only traffick with the Enemy, but even aid them. Of course, his opinion is worthless because he can’t wrap his head around how “evangelical,” as in “Evangelical Lutheran Church,” does not necessarily mean “rabidly conservative psycho.” We leave that to the Missouri Synod Lutherans. :wink: But few people on this board are blithering idiots, and I even respect the opinions of some of you. So, just how hypocritical am I?

As a devout atheist, I have no problem with anything you’re doing, except the part where you drive your daughter to church. That’s pretty cruel. The rest is nice.

I don’t know that I’d say hypocritical. In fact, so long as you are enjoying what you are doing, i wouldn’t assign any pejorative term to you or your actions.

I don’t know that I’d agree with your definitions of atheism and agnosticism. But your opinions seem more flexible than many of mine. If you can stomach the Godtalk, I’d say that’s a pretty good sign that you are not being hypocritical.

Yeah - a lot of folk don’t know that a lot of Lutherans are pretty laid back. We got married in my wife’s childhood Lutheran church, by a pastor she respected, even after we completed the surveys saying that God and religion would play NO part in our childraising.

She likes being in the choir, cannot drive, and I need to be there in case she has a seizure. Might as well put my time to some sort of use.

That makes you a good person…but not a man of faith or a believer in the church.

It isn’t really hypocritical unless you lie about it. If the pastor asks you, “Do you believe,” and you say, “I sure do,” then that would be hypocritical.

Less so, but still slightly so, if you duck the question. “Well, that’s a personal matter between me and my God.”

What would happen if you simply said to your pastor, bluntly and honestly, “I’m having trouble believing. I’ve become agnostic over time.” Would he nod wisely and say, “I’m glad you told me; you might enjoy reading this book by another man who went through a similar crisis of doubt.” Or would he blow a gasket and say, “You and your daughter are free to find another church more suitable to your needs…if you can reach one before hell!”

(Okay, unlikely, eh?)

So long as you aren’t harming your church – you aren’t drawing others away from their faith – you’re participating in the community, if not the communion – what the heck? You like them, they like you.

Think of it like going to those confidence-building events at work. Smile, pitch in, say the words and lift the weights. My guess is that churches would rather have nice guys who have doubts than true believers who are…tetchy.

Pastor admitted to me that he has moments of doubt, too. He’s cool with it. I avoid the topic with the Old Dears, so I keep writing devotions–subtly from my POV–for the Lenten Devotional. I can’t say no to that Old Dear, nor can I withdraw the books she and her husband donated marking their wedding anniversaries because it’s too sweet.

I take communion sometimes because it makes me feel good. I take blessings where I can get them. But I’m a Memorialist, not a believer in Transubstantiation, like my wife, or Consubstantiation, or whatever the hell Luther called it. I agree with much of Jesus’ message and, as a Cafeteria Agnostic, I pick and choose to build a personal philosophy. And I ignore Paul, because he was an asshole.

Do what you want. Being an atheist or agnostic doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate certain aspects of religion. if someone has a problem with that, that’s their problem, not yours.

I think I could call myself a Christian if we ignore that asshole Paul. That Jesus guy had some pretty good ideas.

You aren’t harming the church community to which you are attached. You are reasonably up front about your beliefs, without being offensive. I say that you are a far more positive part of your fellowship than the folks who mouth all of the pieties while contributing nothing toward the community he claims as his.

I believe you misspelled “buttwad” (underlined). :wink:

I figure you’re exaggerating some in your description of his remarks, but if he truly sees people of faith as “the Enemy,” he’s not simply an atheist, he’s an anti-religionist. I suspect that attitude torments him more than it bothers anyone else.

Nothing you’ve described about yourself says hypocrisy to me. Carry on.

Sounds to me like you’re on secure enough ground, then. You’re diplomatic about it, and conduct yourself like a gentleman. You’re supporting the family of the church, even if you have doubts regarding details of the mythos and ethos.

Again, I’d say that a lot of churches wish they had a lot more members like you!

Hell, some of my best friends believe. We don’t have to be at war with good people, we should appreciate them where we find them.

As I once said to the wonderful, nice, lovely, kind, generous minister who helped me get past my anger and hatred of religion (although he was not able to convert me to become one of the faithful,) “If all Christians were like you, there would be no need for atheists.”

Eh, he’s got his good moments; that whole “love is…” bit is overused but it’s still good, and both “without Love, I am nothing” and “parents, do not exasperate your children” are pretty good too (the last one is from Ephesians, whose authorship is contested; the others are from Corinthians I, which is uncontested).
dropzone, I don’t think you’re hypocritical; you’d be if you lied about your faith, but you don’t.

A better way to look at is this: religion has nothing to do with God.
Churches are social organizations. Humans are social animals.

It ain’t just the communion…I’ll bet it’s also the humans you socialize with at church who make you feel good.

Now, intellectually, you might be a little more honest and true to yourself if you’d join a Unitarian Universalist church or something.
But people don’t join churches for intellectual honesty or being true to themselves…They join churches 'cause humans are social animals.
And you and your daughter seem to like the humans at your current church.
So what’s the problem? :slight_smile:

Oh - and since you are in the mood for self reflection, I have to add that, having seen you around here for several years, I think you can assure yourself that hypocrisy is quite a ways down a long list of character flaws you ought to be concerned with. Now does that make you feel better? :wink:

You sound a bit like a Reconstructionist Jew, which makes you A-ok in my book.

This is correct.

Hypocrisy in the case of religion is not a two way street. If you purport to believe in God and you go on record as believing in the sanctity of the ten commandment, but you have sex with the pastor’s wife behind his back and lie about another parishoner to make the pastor think someone else is doing it, that’s hypocrisy: your behaviors are not consistent with your stated beliefs; and according to your stated beliefs God is watching you do all this and is going to be disappointed in you and you may not get the key card for your reserved suite at the Heavenly Kingdom resort.

If, on the other hand, you are ostensibly an agnostic but you go to church, pray along with the others when the pastor says “let us pray”, and therefore in doing so proclaim yourself to “believe in God the father almighty, maker of heaven and earth” and all that stuff, and neglect to inform the sweet lady in the alto section of the choir who reminds you of your mom that you are actually an agnostic, you are NOT being inconsistent with your stated beliefs: it’s not like you believe the One True Non-God is gonna be pissed at you, nor is any of your behavior reprehensible according to your own yardstick.

Now, if you ascribe to the belief that religion is a horribly evil thing responsible for most of the human suffering on this benighted planet, that’s another situation; now you are being inconsistent with your stated beliefs.

Maybe it is just me, but IMO even IF you were lying about why you were there, it would not be “hypocritical”.

To me that word implies something more along the lines you berating the crap out of people who cheat on taxes, support long prison terms for those who do, then always cheat like a mo fo on your taxes and finally have a cow because it ain’t fair when you got caught.

At worst, I might call your position more along the lines of “little white lie”. And there is a reason such things are called that. Its because its a minor fiction that people often use so everybody gets along better.

Many life scenarios are NOT a mathematical equation with an exact (or any) solution.

Ninjaed by AHunter3 who said it better.

I’m a strong atheist in that I don’t believe there is a god at all, and I really don’t get why anyone even cares, to be honest. As long as you are keeping your laws out of my uterus, and don’t expect me to come along, why would I care that you are doing religious stuff?

It’s when Christians (or any religion) expect everyone else to obey their God’s laws that it bothers me.