Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Alright. As you can see, no church again this week. A lot has been going on behind the scenes of Church Hop, and that is what I would like to talk about today.

For better or for worse, this blog has recently gotten some attention from several groups and individuals. I'm not going to mention names or groups for a number of reasons, the most important reason being because I feel I need to respond to all of them at once.

I would like to start with some general defense of this blog. At this point I would like to state that I am speaking for MYSELF-- Bradley, my brother and co-blogger, doesn't even know I'm writing this right now, so leave him out of it.

1. I have done the best job I can to keep this blog open. Comments are enabled and I have responded to almost every one individually. My e-mail address is easily found on my profile, and I have responded to e-mails personally. I leave the URL at every church that I visit, so that I am not sneaking behind their backs and "picking on them"-- they have access to the blog immediately, and they are just as able to e-mail me and comment as anyone else.

2. I gain nothing from this blog itself. We don't advertise, we have no sponsors, no one is paying us in any way to do this project. What I gain from Church Hop is personal, which leads me to...

3. ...My journey. I am being criticized a lot for going into churches with no intention of finding God. That, dear readers, is your assumption. What "agnostic" means to different people varies greatly, but for me, personally, it boils down to a search. I accept that there might be a God. That's one of many options to me, and one that I feel is worth exploring.

I come from a small, close-minded town. I grew up without religion, and no one laid the options out for me. The people I knew who went to church "chose" that church because that's where they had been going for all of their lives. What I wanted for both myself and for my younger brother was a chance to get a feel for what different churches were like, first hand. I wanted him to make his decisions based on experience, not based on habit or discomfort with exploration. That's where this started-- a small town where you have to seek out diversity and new opinions.

This is my "church." My idea of church is visiting different ones, meeting different people, getting a look at how different people praise their different ideas of God (or gods or whatever they believe). It is no more ridiculous than your ideas, no matter what they are.

4. I have been as honest as I can be while still being diplomatic and open-minded. If at any point I have been critical of an aspect of a church, I have done my best to re-state that these are my opinions. I am entitled to them, just as you are entitled to have your opinions of this blog. I have been crystal clear that I am an uneducated church-goer, and I have nothing but first impressions to go by.

5. The rating at the beginning of each entry (which will be going away soon, as noted over a week ago) expresses Bradley and my comfort level with a church. Not how good a church is, not how right their ideas are, but how comfortable they made us feel while we were there. All churches are different but they do have one thing in common: we have to make the first step into their doors. I guess I can see how you might think this is "judgment," but to me it is putting a number on how I, as a person, felt in a church, based on a number of factors.

6. I have never asked a church to change, nor would I ever do that in the future. The only reason I have pointed out the blog to them is so that they don't feel I've been doing something secretive and back-handed. I never leave it as a "here's what you're doing wrong" hint. I am a firm believer in "to each his own."

7. As a rule, we only visit churches that say "Welcome" or have their service times listed on the marquee. Maybe they're assuming that it says "Welcome Christians" or "Welcome if you're already certain what/who God is," but that's not how everyone reads it. We all have to start somewhere, whether we're 15, 23, or 140 years old when we decide to make our major life decisions.

That's all I have time for right now. There will almost certainly be an "Explanations Part Two" when I get a little more time. For now, that should give you something to react to.

To the people who criticize my blog and/or me as a person: say what you will. That's the joy of the internet, to me. It's what I'm doing and I would be a hypocrite to ask that you only say nice things. But I also invite you to say them here, on the blog, so that I can respond to them and defend myself once in a while.

Also, I ask these same people to scroll back one entry to where I asked for feedback. If there is a way that you think we can make this blog more fair, more of an exploration for everyone, please let me know.