I have a special appreciation for Sunday mornings now that I am an ex-Christian atheist type person.
As a kid I didn’t mind church so much. I had friends there, and I enjoyed Sunday school and singing hymns and all that. Also we usually went out to eat after church, so that was a bonus. As a teenager, I became very religious and got sucked into the evangelical youth group culture… until I began to lose faith. Then Sunday morning became… forced, a show I had to put on for my family and acquaintances, acting like I still accepted the messages being preached and bowing my head in pretend prayer.
When, in college, I still identified somewhere in the middle, a sort of grey-area Christian, Sunday mornings were guilt-ridden. I felt as though I should be worshipping somewhere, but often didn’t get out of bed to do so. At this point I attended (with very poor attendance) an Episcopal church, which was accepting of gay people and had a woman as one of the head pastors. It was refreshing to find a congregation that wasn’t obsessed with sin, but rather with forgiveness of sin. It was a congregation that accepted many different lifestyles and cultures and didn’t preach fire and brimstone. The message seemed to be one of love, not “you’d better make sure you believe the correct way or you’ll be sorry… eternally.” It was one of the first times I understood that Christianity did not have to be something wholly negative, and that God could be viewed as something that cared for the world and not an abusive father calling his children to worship him, or else.
Then I became an atheist. The guilt from sleeping in on Sunday morning melted away. Sometimes I still wake up early and make my own “holy” time – sitting in my pajamas on the couch, drinking freshly brewed coffee and petting my cat. I don’t have the feeling that I should be anywhere, or doing anything, besides caring for myself. I often use it for quiet reflection time, time to catch up on reading or writing. Sunday mornings now can be more refreshing and replenishing – and far less confusing – than they ever were when I was trying to believe in something that doesn’t make sense.