From The Editor
By Patrick Rodriguez
It's about a quarter to four in the afternoon on a Sunday and I’m in the unfamiliar situation of being bored out of my mind. I'm also depressed because my favorite football team is getting a pasting from my least favorite football team. And my Internet connection speed is too slow. It’s getting dire.
I need something to take my mind off of things, and because poker games seem to be pretty rare in this town (not that I play, but I do like to watch on occasion), I already went for a jog, drinking isn’t my thing, drugs I wouldn’t even know where to begin and my girlfriend lives more than a hundred miles away, I decide to go for a walk.
About fifteen minute later I end up in front of the Epiphany Episcopal Church building. There’s a sign out front that piques my interest, something about the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Albuquerque. Apparently the Socorro branch of the church meets in this building in a few minutes. And though I planned on going for a longer walk, something (other than the sign) tells me to attend this service, so I do.
Before I go any further in the narrative, I want to point out that I am not, nor have I ever been, religious. It’s not that I find the subject objectionable or anything, but rather that I was raised in an irreligious household. Talking about religion or God or whatever in my family home made about as much sense as discussing astrophysics or Dostoevsky; we were a secular bunch, sure, but by no means were my parents considered intellectuals.
It turns out that I am not the only one. According to a study by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, about 15 percent of Americans identify as non-religious, atheist and agnostic. To put it in perspective, that’s nearly five times as many than those who classify as Jewish (though some view being Jewish as also being an ethnic term without any sort of religious connotation).
Before moving to Socorro, however, there was a time when I was attending services at the First Unitarian Universal Church in Albuquerque. I also didn’t view the services as typical sermons carried on by a preacher spreading the word of God or whatever, but rather as a well thought lecture delivered by a member of the intelligentsia. In other words, it was like going to a college class that you’re actually pretty excited about attending. Whatever. I’m feeling stoked now.
I’m not surprised by what I discovered inside. There are 16 members of the UU branch of Socorro already in the meeting room, and not one of them – barring a couple of children whose family members brought them – is anywhere close to my age. I don’t consider myself young, of course, though I do sort of represent the key demographic that media outlets target. And by no means am I back at the megachurch that I used to attend with my girlfriend, who self-identifies as a Christian. (You see, I really don’t have a problem with religion.) Weekly attendance at those churches puts the David-esque UU congregations to shame.
Anyway, I don’t care about the disparity in age – and perceived ethnicity (I am also the only one in the room – barring one of the children – who would be classified as being a “person of color”) – because I actually do find it charming that the UU church has a branch – albeit a small one – in Socorro. Not many cities with populations fewer than 10,000 can make that claim.
Although I am staunchly an introvert, I muster the courage to make the rounds and introduce myself to a few of the other parishioners. Soon after, the service begins.
After the lecture, er, service, I’m meeting a few more people also in attendance. I find out that most used to belong to one of the more popular denominations but decided that it was best they part ways and seek spiritual enlightenment elsewhere. For some, though, the UU church is the only church they have belonged to. There are also a lot of people in some way or another associated with New Mexico Tech, which I also don’t find surprising seeing as how most of the UU churches I have attended all seem to attract certain elements of academia.
About half an hour later I leave the church building having met more great people in my new city. I even made some new professional contacts.
And best of all I now know that I’ll have something exciting to look forward to come late afternoon next Sunday.