2015 April 19th – Why I Passed on Church Today

Sunday, April 19th: After two months of being officially retired, it has occurred to me that I need to establish some kind of face to face social network that will get me up and out of my room.  After attending church with Daniel Rigney and his wife Alida in Houston in 2013, I decided to research Unitarian Universalist Churches in Los Angeles County.  When it comes to UU congregations around LA, they are few and far between with a total of ten congregations serving a population of a bit less than ten million people.  The closest one to where I live is in Long Beach, but this weekend the streets and freeways around that city are overwhelmed by people trying to get to the Long Beach Grand Prix, so yesterday afternoon I decided that I’d head the opposite direction and drive to Pasadena.  There I had a choice of two congregations: The Throop UU Church which was founded in 1889…


or The Neighborhood U U Church which started out as a combined Presbyterian and Congregationalist Church in 1885. 


It evolved into a Unitarian Church in the 1920’s and 30’s but retained its Congregationalist credentials into the 1950’s.  By the 1970’s the congregation had sorted itself out into a Unitarian Universalist identity and moved to its current sanctuary next to the Gamble House.


Their convoluted history and the less pretentious architecture of the facility combined with the fact that they have a maze in their hand made garden to convince me that maybe these were my kind of people.

… Why I Passed on Church Today - It’s 4:00pm and I didn't make it to church today.  I knew I was going to give it a pass by the time I went to bed Saturday night.  The why of it has more to do with me than with any church or the people who might be part of any congregation.  It has to do with how my mind works.  I have to admit that I’m still emotionally hung over from my trip to Texas and I’m still aching from the disappointments that I experienced on that trek.  Maybe I’m just a grumpy old man but this puts me into a defensive judgmental frame of mind which I really, really hate and that makes it much easier for me to hole up and avoid contact with anyone.


This isn’t social anxiety, paranoia or agoraphobia; because I’m not feeling particularly anxious or fearful.  It’s much more about expectations, social posturing, and my personal impatience with “small talk” but more than that is the potential for disappointment.  This is complicated by the question: Who the hell am I to judge anyone?  Who indeed other than a neurotic A-hole who’s not fit company for man nor beast?  So now I sit in front of my laptop with no one around to judge but me.  Is this a new twist on low Self-esteem?  Not really, because since I officially retired to one degree or another I exhibit 6 out of 10 characteristics:

  1. Heavy self-criticism and dissatisfaction.
  2. Hypersensitivity to criticism with resentment against critics and feelings of being attacked.
  3. Chronic indecision and an exaggerated fear of mistakes.
  4. Excessive will to please and unwillingness to displease any petitioner.
  5. Perfectionism, which can lead to frustration when perfection is not achieved.
  6. Neurotic guilt, dwelling on or exaggerating the magnitude of past mistakes.
  7. Floating hostility and general defensiveness and irritability without any proximate cause.
  8. Pessimism and a general negative outlook.
  9. Envy, invidiousness, or general resentment.
  10. Sees temporary setbacks as permanent, intolerable conditions.

It is just that I need a job and work to justify my existence?  Nope, it was worse twenty years ago when I was working sixty hours a week and racking up 8 or 9 out of 10.  Here’s the rub: When I anticipate the energy required to don the social mask and drive thirty miles on LA Freeways to spend a couple of hours with a bunch of do-gooder wanabes, it quickly becomes a prospect of diminishing returns.

All I really want to do is to sit down with a few relatively intelligent people, have a back and forth while we maybe play some cards or dominoes, listen to some decent music and enjoy some good food and beer.  Is there a Church of the Inside Straight?


These last few years of living in limbo just sucks but I’ve lost my way and I can’t find my way home.  I guess I’ll try to dig my way out of this hole again next week.

Except for attributed photos and text, all content is copyrighted © 2015 JKM (an apparently ineffectual boilerplate joke?)

Views: 257

Comment by Franklin Lonzo Dixon, Jr on April 20, 2015 at 7:47am

Loved the chalice picture. One UU to another, I go to church to be refueled. It works.

Comment by koshersalaami on April 20, 2015 at 8:58am
Thought. Commented already. Oh well,

Maybe what you need is a band. Play anything? Sing?
Comment by JMac1949 Today on April 20, 2015 at 9:29am

Kosh, Can't carry a tune in a bucket.  I screwed around on piano, but never learned how to play well with others... I'd never want to torture real musicians with my limitations.  Thanks for the thought... might look around to getting back into story telling performance or theater.  Haven't made up my mind about that.

Comment by Jerry DeNuccio on April 20, 2015 at 10:57am

I understand your reluctance to spend the social energy such settings require.  It is work, being social, and there's no guarantee that you'll be among like-minded, interest-sharing people.  But maybe that lack of guarantee is as good a reason as any for being in a social setting.  And who knows, you may find "a few relatively intelligent people" who like music, games, good food, and beer at the UU church.  It wouldn't hurt to check it out.

Comment by Arthur James on April 20, 2015 at 11:20am


play and 

sin? no.

sing so

low we

no can



sip brew

in recycled

wax dixie

cups? go

to creek?

listen to


View birds

scoop, and

dive for the

rainbow fish

trout? Nature.


Sit in parking

lot of a church,

mosaic temple.

synagogue, and

gulp home brews?

read Hebrews book?

read WUMO too?


Comment by Lyle Elmgren on April 20, 2015 at 1:19pm

Being depressed is not a good place to be. 'Keep on dancing ...'

Comment by Arthur James on April 20, 2015 at 1:32pm



Lyle Elmgren...

I watched my

homemade ( 1978 )

Home burn for five

Hours... But, now 

I know casually

70- First Responder

firefighters who 

came to help put out

my Home... I get tears

in my eyes each time

I hear the local Siren./




I get tears...

I might buy a

6-pack asap!


What a 




I was the last

to leave my 

burnt Home.

I still get awed...

But, after 18- months,

I shed Happy-Joyous


Gratitude... It's built

better than when I

was frugal, and too

poor to be opulent.

But, Peggy Lee? huh?

If She saw my rebuilt

Home? She'd want to

Move in? and kick me

out? I feel so blessed.


Comment by marilyn sands on April 20, 2015 at 1:54pm

Expressed eloquently (as always) -  even if one has to turn to any or all of the 7 Dwarfs for rotating moods.  R&R

Comment by Stephen Brassawe on April 20, 2015 at 4:21pm

I don't know what to tell you, JMac. Probably just a hangover from the Texas thing.

What can magnify the problem is when you realize that all the people with whom you would enjoy a game of cards, some good music, some good food and beer are dead . . . or might as well be.

Comment by Zanelle on April 20, 2015 at 4:34pm

Maybe some medicinal pot would help.  Today is 4/20.   I like to hole up but I know people are important too.  I do my duty with them but rarely enjoy it.  The church of me is my temple.  Ha.  I remember the UU church helping me so much in Seattle.  I tried the big one here in San Diego when I lived close by but the magic wasn't there.  I like magic.  Mostly I find it in Nature with a capital N.  I like the stars, sun and moon.  I like quiet.  And animals...I am looking forward to getting some animals in my life.  So it goes.  Are you still living in that rooming house?  Environment is everything.


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