I love to have a garden but I find it impossible to keep it all looking good, so as yet my dream of having a wonderful garden has not come true. This year there are potatoes and runner beans growing reasonably well and a few perennials doing their best, plus annuals in hanging baskets. Sadly there are only a few annuals that I’ve actually sown this year as the beds were overgrown with nettles and other weeds and I haven’t been able to summon up the will to work on them. Every year I wish I had my own gardener to come and make it all perfect, but when I did ask a company how much it would cost for them to dig over and otherwise prepare my beds last year, the man said even if they did the job the whole lot would have reverted to weeds again in no time. Of course, I already knew this from experience! By the end of the summer it always looks like I don’t do any gardening at all, which I think is why I didn’t have the heart to do all the work again this year, especially as so many of the annual seeds I sowed last year failed for reasons unknown. Never mind, I have giant evening primrose growing wild in one bed (well actually I sowed seeds on there years ago so they come up every year but they were wild seeds I sowed); lots of buddleias filling the air with sweet scent and attracting bees, butterflies and moths; honeysuckle on two of the fences; everlasting sweet peas flowering on another fence; marjoram and mint about to attract every flying insect there is and lots more. It’s a mess, but at least it is a pretty mess.
I always have so many mixed feelings when I come to post publicly about religion that I tie myself up in knots. I started the religion blog to talk about atheism and religion, but whilst talking about atheism is easy, it’s harder for an atheist to talk about a fascination with Christianity.
Why, as an unmoved atheist, do I now attend church on occasion? It really is simple, and nothing to do with belief. I have mentioned this in earlier posts, but I’ll reiterate here. I just like it! I don’t believe it even vaguely, and I don’t have anything to prove to other atheists or to believers. I respect believers more now (since writing my book, which necessitated my attending church for research purposes) but I can’t share their beliefs. I still believe in nothing, whether a god, or astrology or anything ‘New Age’, or even natural justice (‘what goes around comes around’) but I do get something out of going to church, even though of course I don’t take part in anything like the Eucharist (the vicar knows I’m an atheist).
So tonight I went to Evensong at my village church and it was good. I love to be in the ancient church and I like the old ‘Book of Common Prayer’ services. I suppose I might lose my interest in attending if this church eventually goes over to more modern services. I feel steeped in the past when I’m there, and I like the vicar’s sermons (if not his choice of hymns!). My reasons for attending may not be religious, but I know the vicar doesn’t mind, and considering the way things are going in the Church of England, another backside in the pews, atheist or not, is probably all too welcome!
I know I’m not the only atheist who attends church – I know of people who go because they’ve always gone but have lost their faith – but I suppose I tie myself up in knots because I was always such a strident atheist, and I know my younger self wouldn’t believe I’d ever do such a thing willingly. Still, I lie to no one about my true status and I think I shall carry on going every now and again for as long as I continue to enjoy it.