I did something new today. My college arranged for several different volunteer projects in the area that you could sign up for, from trail clean-up to working at a homeless shelter to visiting elderly people. Through the vagaries of fate, I ended up on one that visited a small clothing and food pantry operated by the area churches' Ecumenical Council.
So there I was, sorting packages of donated socks by children's sizes, not ten feet from where there were *religious* pamphlets (one of them mentioned God once, I think) in a small, discreet display, on such false religious topics such as how to deal with the violent death of a loved one. I bagged pinto beans and rice into one cup packages, knowing full well that the people using them might be subtly influenced by such evil members of Babylon the Great as Frank, the man who ran the place and kept saying how glad he was to have everyone who showed up, because it meant they finally got caught up on all the odd bits of maintenance required to run the pantry and its sister shelter.
Y'know, it's nice to not have to think that all of these good programs, such as food pantries, shelters, old folks home, etc, etc, are polluted and evil, just because they happen to be run by religious organizations, which give aid regardless of whether people agree with their beliefs or not (unlike, say, what we can imagine a comparable - and very hypothetical - Witness program would do).
I realize a little better how toxic the Witness attitude is: just because God hasn't solved every problem perfectly right now means that we can can wash our hands of trying to do anything at all. What's the point in feeding someone for a day if God's just going to wipe out hunger completely, Real Soon Now, and anyhow these cans of pork and bags of rice are tainted because the building is owned by false religion? Much better to spend your Saturday out in service.
I didn't do very much, really, and I've never volunteered before. But it felt quite a lot more ultimately useful than all those thirteen odd years I spent knocking on doors on Saturday - and unlike field service, I might actually do it again some time.
Anybody else have similar experiences?