View from the Pew

'Girl on Church Pew', oil on canvas: Emma Johnson, 2004

Here’s a fascinating piece by an atheist churchgoer, from last weekend’s Guardian.

The title is: ‘What I’m really thinking’.

‘As I sit in church on a Sunday morning, my main struggle is to stay awake. I did fall asleep during a sermon once, and came to with a jolt, wondering if I’d been snoring. The rest of the congregation stands and sits at the appropriate moments – I never know what’s happening.

I started going to church to get my children into CofE schools. The sense of my own hypocrisy can still bother me, so I’m usually in a foul mood by Sunday. I’m the one on the back pew feeling furious with my husband who refuses point blank to come with me. Looking at the other churchgoers can make me even crosser; there’s a nauseating clubbiness about the hardcore Christians.

I try to smile enthusiastically at the vicar but I can’t help thinking he’s patronising and disapproving. Or maybe I’m just paranoid he has somehow guessed I’m a nonbeliever.

The lessons are read from the King James Bible and are almost entirely unintelligible. The sermons are similarly inscrutable.

I sometimes read passages of the Bible to pass the time, and to stoke my outrage (Revelations! What’s that about? Was the writer on drugs? The Book of Job! Who could worship such a fiendish God?). I used to write furious to-do lists on the service sheet. Now, I just take a deep breath and let the words and music wash over me. It’s actually quite relaxing. With school fees at £15K a year, it’s also the most profitable hour of my week’.

1 thought on “View from the Pew

  1. I hope someone from that church befriends her and invites her to meet Jesus, eat with the church family and explain some of those crazy passages! :)

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