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Sunday, April 29, 2012

You Just Can't Make Them.

Good Evening All, it's about that time.

Things are going quite well -- took a nice long run up and down the neighborhood and the park.  To shake things up, I used a new heart rate monitor given to me by a very supportive family member.  While it didn't show me distance or pace, it did indicate that I was very close to my maximum heart rate of 181, and burned 1127 calories in 1:14:20.  Good to know that I'm not overdoing it, and also good to know that my metabolism hasn't slowed down!

But on to tonight's topic.  A friend of mine recently noted that attendance in his/her house of worship was significantly less this week than it was during the recent major holidays.  He felt sad and frustrated that others did not seek out G-D faithfully, and questioned why those with only sporadic attendance and participation would even join a congregation to begin with.

His feelings are completely valid, and I'm sure many others who are active in church or temple feel the same frustration.  Most weekends, the sanctuary is populated by "the regulars," but on the red-letter days, it's standing room only.  Or better yet, on the red-letter days, some people only come to hear "the important part," and then leave with a substantial amount of the service remaining.  It's annoying and disrespectful, let's be honest!  It also serves to erode faith - apathy is sometimes contagious, and it takes strength and discipline to indoctrine oneself against it.

However, the frustration felt towards our apathetic counterparts must be contained, otherwise it morphs into arrogance and judgment.  Nobody can force adherents of any faith to be present at services, or to say all the right prayers, or to do anything that the ancient scriptures say ought to be done.  That's why we live in a country that respects freedom of religion (and atheism), and not one that imposes religion on its population.

Are they doing wrong?  Maybe.  Is it a diss to the house of worship and its leaders?  It sure feels like it.  Then again, there might also be completely valid reasons for skipping or cutting, such as children, health, or other commitments.  Or chances are, they wish they could attend, but some problem in their life is preventing them from doing so, and they may be somewhat embarrassed to explain what it is!  It also might not be our business.

And if they don't have valid reasons, then let them deal with G-D Himself.  We can't assume that we speak for Him when we don't, so let Him do the job.  If He sees fit to send a message, people are much more likely to take Him seriously than us!

For those of us who are faithful attendees, keep it up.  Don't be discouraged by those who aren't there with you, and don't question whether you're wasting your time because of their no-shows.  Just like they don't have to explain to you why they don't go, you don't have to feel self-conscious or self-doubting because you choose to attend.  You honor G-D the way you see fit, keep your faith strong, and don't let anyone -- not the latecomers, not the early-leavers, not the no-shows, and not the smart-ass agnostics who deride and belittle your beliefs -- make you feel like you shouldn't stick with it.

And besides, maybe it's better to be happy with those who do attend, than it is to be angry at those who don't.  By way of analogy, look at me and this blog -- sometimes it feels like I have a pseudo-congregation out here in the blog-osphere, but I can't make people read it.  In fact, there are a few people out there I would LOVE to read it, but I know for a fact that they won't.   If I sent emails of my blog entries to all of them, demanding that they read it, they'd just get annoyed and delete them.  So all I can do is write what I know best, check the stats, and be happy with the turnout that results.  It hasn't happened often, but I sometimes get negative feedback from my readers.  I can't force them to love every single word I write, but I can politely acknowledge their beef, and then choose to either accept it or reject it.  It's far better for me to keep this going, even with the video, than to feel slighted and stunted by those who feel like walking out on what I'm saying.

WHEW . . .  sometimes I don't know where it comes from, people.  Oh, one more thing:

DISCLAIMER -- the above post was not intended to offend, malign, besmirch, insult, or kick sand in the face of any adherent or nonadherent of any church, religion, creed, cult, faith, group or organization.  Any offense or sense of being miffed is entirely the responsibility of the reader of this blog.

That's all I got now -- have a restful Sunday night!