As I mentioned in my previous blog, I went into this adventure blind. What was it like, and were there any surprises along the way?
The church itself is a gorgeous building. It's an old structure built about a century or so ago. The building was originally owned by a German congregation, but was purchased by the local Japanese community. The building reflects a traditional, Western church style.
The interior is a lovely chapel reminiscent of an old school Baptist church, but with exceptionally well done stained glass windows.
The stained glass windows had German writing underneath several of the panels. Translated, they say, "Kindergarten," "Sunday School," and "Women's Club." I don't know why they say these things, but it was interesting to see German on the stained glass windows of a Japanese Christian church.
Overall, the atmosphere was a pretty, typically protestant chapel, simple, yet elegant.
It was an interesting group. Mostly Japanese individuals born in the States. There was only one woman from Japan that I knew of who spoke with a heavy accent and was a very sweet lady.
Many of them seemed to be well educated. The pastor spoke French with me afterward. Many people held advanced degrees, one lady was even a microbiology professor at the university where I got my degree.
They were very friendly towards us. After the service, they invited us down for a tea and light refreshments. The luncheon was pretty nice with sandwiches, fresh fruit, and various teas. We had a very lovely conversation about university, culture, the history of the church, etc. It turns out its pretty much just a Presbyterian church with a lot of Japanese people who attend. And we had a very wonderful time. Until...
One lady asked us, "Are you guys Christians?" When I answered, "No, we're both atheists," the pleasantness left the room. One lady looked at me and said, "Well, I have a book for you to read. It's called the Bible." She said it in a teasing sort of tone, but there was a maliciousness behind it. Another lady then said, "She's just kidding. Well, not really." I then told her I'm extremely familiar with the Bible, I've read it cover to cover a couple times, and that that's what actually led me out of Christianity. She basically told me I just don't read it right. I told her several of the reasons the Bible as a book turned me off, but it was to no avail.
I'm sick of people assuming I haven't read the Bible, that I don't know what I'm talking about in matters of religion, etc. because I do not buy into their beliefs. I know your beliefs. People judge atheists as immoral, corrupt people who seek to destroy religion. I am not that. I'm not that at all. I have a clear moral center, most atheists I know are actually quite moral people. You mention you don't believe and people act as though they caught you in the basement murdering children. I am sick of it.
Overall, the people were nice until they found out we didn't believe what they did, then they made the last 10 minutes of our meeting quite uncomfortable. We said nothing offensive and nothing to warrant them attacking us. We were respectful and didn't challenge their beliefs in any way. We didn't deserve to be ganged up on.
The service was pretty much just a straight forward Presbyterian service. It was completely in English, there were no Japanese elements to it at all. The music was from the hymnal for the Presbyterian Church USA. The organist played beautifully, but only one person really sang, and that was the woman who was from Japan. She had a very lovely singing voice.
It was basically a hymn, a prayer of penance, an absolution, another hymn, a sermon, and a prayer with a hymn.
The pastor was definitely sincere in his message and delivery. You could tell he really believed in this and was quite happy in his beliefs.
Overall, I was hoping for a different experience, something new and exotic, but it was pretty much same old sort of service.
The message was a simple, typical message of Christianity. Essentially that the natural man is an enemy of God and that we should crucify the flesh and pursue the Spirit instead. I feel I covered this topic in last week's blog, so I will not go into it again.
Overall, the service was pretty generic, the people were really nice until they found out we didn't believe like they did, and I probably wouldn't go back, but I had a good time.
Now to unveil one of the big moments I've been saving for this blog. I will be visiting a polygamist church, the Apostolic United Brethren, the same church that the people from Sister Wives on TLC attend.
Until next time, peace be with you.