Sunday, August 12, 2007


It's true, I did go to church this morning. I brought the Bean, who had a great time playing with the child care person (a lovely older woman who drives a Jeep with fake flowers twisted around the antenna, and turns out to be the senior church warden) during the service. Peanut stayed home with Daddy to do a "project," designed to keep her from being too upset that her sister got to wear a pretty dress and Go Somewhere.

I have mixed feelings about church, which could probably fill many more paragraphs than any (either?) of my readers here would want to give time to. I grew up going to an Episcopal church: went to Sunday school, sang in the choir, attended confirmation classes, and served as an acolyte. Though it was just luck of time and place, I am proud to have been confirmed by Bishop John Shelby Spong, of whom Wikipedia says "his views are so radical that some more conservative Christians consider him not Christian at all." That is to say, he believes that women and gay people and people of color are as fully human as straight white men. He believes a lot else about Christian theology that I'm unqualified to discuss, and in fairness it is probably more that kind of thing, rather than feminism, that makes him a radical. In essence, he seems to be saying that much Christian doctrine is rooted in a world that no longer exists (pre-Newton, pre-Copernicus), and that we could use another Reformation. Sounds good to me -- sign me up. Or to put it bluntly, "well, duh."

But I digress, about Spong. Point is: my religious foundation is Episcopalian, so we had our girls baptized in the local Episcopal church, and that's where we go on the three or four Sundays a year that I get the urge. Now that Bean is Sunday school age, we'll probably go more often. Maybe. Or not.

Because I went so often as a child and teenager, the rhythms and cadence of the service, the music, the language, and the social church experience all have made an imprint that is at once irksome, comforting, and amusing.

The stuff that ranges from irksome (church busybodies) to infuriating (institutionalized condescension) is a whole other essay. Today -- possibly because our regular priest is on vacation! -- I noticed positives.

There is comfort in confession, in asking for forgiveness for unspecified (Episcopalians don't have to visit a priest and come clean individually) things done and left undone, for not having loved our neighbor with our whole heart. There is comfort in the exchange of "peace be with you" with those seated nearby. There is comfort in watching the priest blessing the Bean at communion, and in the blessing delivered to all at the end of the service.

In the amusing category, I've found there is always one person in the congregation... you could plop me in any church in the world and this would happen... invariably seated one or two rows behind me, who insists on singing harmony to all the hymns. She can't quite manage it, but she'll never stop trying. Loudly.

1 comment:

  1. You might be pleased to know I personally have a 'no singing' policy at church - see my blog post "stand up, sit down, fight-fight-fight" in the February archives. I don't even know what it means to try to sing harmony...

    I wrote a couple of other pieces about religion (not weird! except maybe to busybodies...) in April, if you feel moved to check it out.

    :) be well