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Some Random Thoughts I Had About College Christian Gatherings.


JoeFriday
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I finally figured out the reason I disliked christian organizations at college so much but kept going to them. (This was in my "limbo" phase of deconverting).

There were always the people I really liked, and went to see but I never felt completely comfortable and always a little awkward at the events.

 

Tonight back again at college after 4(!) years (oddly enough I had been to the same house at a different group meeting back in the day), I finally realized why:

 

It's a gathering of people not because of personality, but of common theme. However that common theme is more united by exclusion (of drinking, sexuality, etc) than what they do (church, go to groups, know the same people, find random freshman that don't know anybody and invite them).

 

Granted a few people are legitimate friends, but it's weird to have a group of people that aren't really "close" or specifically having a great time being around the people they hang out with. Clusters of subgroups, and random acquaintances, with some hot chicks across the room. Like a work party, but without the common theme.

 

And an older "leader" that on some level you sense is getting to know you because another joining the "permanent" group is how you count the points in College Group Christendom.

 

It's been awhile since I went to a hangout of that nature(my sister is slightly involved because of her room-mates), and it's really refreshing to have the additional perspective.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Good Christ, I think you're on to something. I remember having misgivings about half the people I would encounter at those things, but I was never really able to voice it.

 

Although at junior college I went a few times to this group that was very small. It was wonderful, I have very fond memories of it; I wish all my fundie experience could have been like that. I don't know what it is... every last person was really cool, and the leader guy had been a goth back in the 80s which I remember being super impressed by. *sigh* Or maybe it's just my prick talking, because I remember feening hard for a couple of the girls there. Unlike all my other experiences with Christian girls, one of them seemed to want me back and more importantly she wasn't fucked up or crazy.

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Man you nailed it. I didn't go to Christian groups on campus because I went to a Christian school so every group was such. But I had an almost identical experience in a growing church among our "small group". Say, about 12 or so people, all in relationships so about 6 couples (so drop the tension over the hot girls). I never liked these groups because I was never friends with any of them, it was ALL about our common theme of Christianity. But there was so much external pressure that this should be our closest group of friends. But my friends were at work or from school, and those were the people I actually had fun with regardless of whatever theme we shared. And your comment about the leader liking you, oh yeah, I was one of those leaders. And I can tell you specifically that I (as he was) was being instructed to make friends and invest in the lives of those people with the specific goal of either converting them or making them more involved in our growing church cult. Even at the time it made me sick. Such fake bullshit.

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Granted a few people are legitimate friends, but it's weird to have a group of people that aren't really "close"

 

This is actually what I miss about Christian gatherings - I like being around a lot of people and being on speaking terms with them but I don't like being all close and personal and emotional with a lot of people. It's been hard as an adult atheist to find anything similar.

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Man you nailed it. I didn't go to Christian groups on campus because I went to a Christian school so every group was such. But I had an almost identical experience in a growing church among our "small group". Say, about 12 or so people, all in relationships so about 6 couples (so drop the tension over the hot girls). I never liked these groups because I was never friends with any of them, it was ALL about our common theme of Christianity. But there was so much external pressure that this should be our closest group of friends. But my friends were at work or from school, and those were the people I actually had fun with regardless of whatever theme we shared. And your comment about the leader liking you, oh yeah, I was one of those leaders. And I can tell you specifically that I (as he was) was being instructed to make friends and invest in the lives of those people with the specific goal of either converting them or making them more involved in our growing church cult. Even at the time it made me sick. Such fake bullshit.

 

 

Hmmmmm funny that this topic came up because I need to vent, I was on the "other friend" side of this, two days ago with members of my former church (some I remember from my childhood briefly, others I did not but I became invisible basically. Besides feeling awkward, it kind of made me mad a little, here is the story.

 

So my best friend I have known since elementary school is going to the Navy, he has his going away party, and whatnot, and he invites people from church that he knows, (I mean why should I be offended right?), but that is the start of the party, when things make the worst turn and I want to be there for my friend, I really do, but what is starting to happen, I became the social outcast with this "church group" and that they talk about is things going on at church, what they did in Mexico (they did missionary crap), and about stuff they did in the past, and they where talking in their little group and I was just :Hmm: , so I got up and left to somewhere else I knew I wasn't welcomed within that group and it felt very awkward anyway, the only thing one of them ever said "can you hold the camera and take our pic" :banghead:.I don't know what they know, my friend knows the truth without saying it out loud (I wonder if his family knows???), because I was blatant that the Bible is very flawed while back. I just hate the feeling that I had with those "church groupies".

 

It wasn't till AFTER they all left, I started to have fun and actually you know, talk to my friend about all this and actually chill and hang out without that awkwardness (because the family was left and well they have known me forever). So I haven't been angry about church, religion, in a while, damn that set off the fuse because that is ALL they talked about,even my friend ignored me (that really made me feel super bad)and was just talking to them, when I am his best friend? I was kind of ticked. :cussing: Things are all good now, we are going to chill before he goes, BUT I really hate one thing, that Christianity a hold of my friend like this, and I am still glad I got out of it, when I did.

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Thinking back on it. In high school I was a fucking weirdo. In fact, people were scared of me. But when I would find myself at church youth groups, the kids would actually go out of their way to be nice to me and try and talk to me. That made such an impression on me, and contributed to my getting slaved. In hindsight I'm not sure how much of that was forced or fake, but I do know that a few were indeed genuine.

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Thinking back on it. In high school I was a fucking weirdo. In fact, people were scared of me. But when I would find myself at church youth groups, the kids would actually go out of their way to be nice to me and try and talk to me. That made such an impression on me, and contributed to my getting slaved. In hindsight I'm not sure how much of that was forced or fake, but I do know that a few were indeed genuine.

 

For me (for the time that I was in church), people that I thought where my "friends" were really talking behind my back and throwing insults around.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thinking back on it. In high school I was a fucking weirdo. In fact, people were scared of me. But when I would find myself at church youth groups, the kids would actually go out of their way to be nice to me and try and talk to me. That made such an impression on me, and contributed to my getting slaved. In hindsight I'm not sure how much of that was forced or fake, but I do know that a few were indeed genuine.

 

For me (for the time that I was in church), people that I thought where my "friends" were really talking behind my back and throwing insults around.

 

I didn't notice that until the end, shortly before I left. I was still very involved and excited about my faith, however my youth group leaders would "forget" to include me in several gatherings, the pastor's grandson would refer to me as "insane" (I had major depression, and vocalized that after a sermon about how depression is caused by demons - I actually disagreed) and nobody would talk to me or sit next to me after we had breakfast in the morning (they usually had doughnuts.) This was in sharp contrast of when I was introduced into the church as a guest and relative of a churchgoer, people were very friendly. Hell, I was invited to sleepovers, prayer groups, bible studies, etc. It's surreal. I had low self-esteem and I was bullied for a good portion of my life, so maybe I just didn't realize it was all an act to draw you in.

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The social aspect of church, or college groups bothered me because I never knew who was actually interested in getting to know me, and who was just doing their "christian duty" to talk to me and make me feel welcome. I dont want to be friends with someone who is only doing it out of obligation.

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I remember going to youth group in high school. Once a month I'd eat pizza and hang out with girls (a big deal because I went to an all boys school) in the old church building. They would play some of the up-beat christian songs on the speakers or via sing-a-long; most of them were relatively good as music, so it was nice. I may have gone to one or two "faith rally" kinds of events, but they were rather boring outside of hanging out with a few of my friends. I didn't feel that emotional stuff and "energizing the youth" was appropriate for my church, and I feel that even more strongly now.

 

The youth leader (older guy in college) smiled way too much for me to consider healthy. He was really involved with everyone and even recognized me years later. He always gave me a genuine but overbearing and slightly creepy vibe. The adult coordinator was someone I had known as a kid; her son was in my grade in elementary school, and she was the involved type of mom. She was a down-to-business type as well, but she always had time to smile and be friendly. I could never shake the feeling that she, like my best friend's mom and other more conservative Christians, only had smiles to spare if she thought that you were one of them. You had to be within a slim margin of their own culture, or you were somehow broken or unclean and had to be fixed or shunned, respectively.

 

All-in-all, my time spent with the youth group was rather dull and insignificant.

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all these observations are so true! I definitely had a lot of experience with being nice to people solely out of obligation to the youth group or concern for their eternal soul. At the time, I may not have realized how twisted that was. It's like I was a salesman for Jesus.

 

When I left Christian college for a state college, I went to one of the big Christian gatherings on campus for their midweek "service" and it was the most unfriendly place I have ever walked in. The girl who invited me in the first place said hi to me and then went to mingle with her friends.I kept introducing myself to people and after saying "hi", they would turn around and continue talking to their friends.

 

As soon as the final Amen was said, I flew out of there and never went back. I guess that group didn't get the memo about being overly friendly in order to build their numbers. :)

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