My religious background is well known to most of you. I posted the story on my blog back in 2009. But if you don't know it, here is the abbreviated version: I was born Jewish, then my parents converted to Mormonism when I was two years old, which is the only religion I knew growing up. I stuck with it until I was not allowed to go on my mission at age 19. I didn't attend any church for a while after that, until I felt compelled to join a Pentecostal church. I felt extremely out of place, but ended up meeting my first wife. We moved to Virginia in 2000, and didn't attend any church after relocating. Then I got divorced in 2005 and remarried to my current wife in 2007. When she got pregnant with our first child in 2009, we decided to go back to church to raise our kids in religion. She was raised Catholic but had a 'been there, done that' mentality about Catholicism so we decide to attend an Episcopal church, The Church of the Good Shepherd in Burke, VA. I didn't really care, as I was disillusioned with religion anyway. We've been attending ever since. At the same time I started my study of Dudeism and I became an ordained Dudeist priest.
I remember my days of going to Mormon services and trying to figure out why people diligently went to church. There were a handful of people who believed in the Mormon dogma and was the reason they attended, but I felt most were there to socialize with like-minded people. There was an air of artificial credence. The kids were there mostly there because their parents made them go, but the social aspect also compelled them to return a couple times a week as many had church friends. I grew to despise the social aspect of church attendance. I felt people should go because they believe in the doctrine and not to hang out with their friends. I felt it was disrespectful to the institution and the leaders, like those socializing were wasting the true believers time and using up the church's resources. I felt it gave the church a bad name.
It took me a long time to get over my negative feelings about the social aspect of religion. The turning point was when I realized why I eagerly go to church now-I want to see my friends! I've made some great friends through the Young Family Ministries group (YFM) at Good Shepherd. If the social aspect of church is what gets a dude like me to go to church, not to mention the primary reason why many go to church, then I say more power to it. It's better for me and my family to embrace the social aspect then to demonize it.
The Dude Abides.