Caryn’s 23 things – and then some

Racing into Library 2.0 with LOL and others

My church

For a long time, I’ve felt the lack of a church, and for longer than that, I’ve felt the lack of anyone to discuss theology with.  This blog was started in an effort to help the second one, but since practically no one writes comments, it’s not much of a discussion.

I don’t go to a church because I have mobility problems, and more because I don’t like to get up in the morning, but most because I have face blindness.  It’s not total – I’ll eventually connect face and name, but it takes me longer than most people expect.  But by the time you’ve been to a church five or six times, and don’t really count as a visitor any more, people recognize you and think you should recognize them.  So, picture yourself at church, talking to someone you’ve seen there a couple of times, and pouring your heart out about how worried you are about your brother.  The new person listens sympathetically, and promises to pray for him.  The following Sunday, maybe things have gotten better with your brother and you feel a little silly about talking someone’s ear off about him.  You see the person you talked to, but her gaze passes over you with a vague smile and no recognition at all.  Now you’re sure that she never wants to speak to you again for fear of never getting away, and, half embarrassed, half affronted, you decide to go along with that, and never speak to her again, either.  Little do you know that she prayed for you and your brother all week, and wants very much to find out what happened, but can’t remember who you are!  After a while, I quit going because I’m too embarrassed not to be able to recognize people I’ve talked to.

Well, I’ve finally found a church I can go to without having any of these problems.  It’s the Anglican Cathedral of Second Life, and I’m very happy with it.  I don’t have to get up early, because they have a Bible Study at 2:00 Eastern, followed by church at 3:00.  And I don’t have to go anywhere – just sit at my computer.  But best of all, in Second Life, everyone’s name floats over their heads everywhere they go – I don’t have to recognize anyone!  And they’ll discuss theology with me.  Even when I was taking classes at the Seminary, I couldn’t find anyone who would, but the Anglicans of SL will.  The Bible Study has the same problem most discussion groups do, of running out of time just as the conversation is getting really good.  But on Saturdays at 2:00, there’s another discussion group without a time limit.  I’ve only been there once, but then I left after 2 hours with at least 4 or 5 people still there.  And the conversation is wonderful.

Some people have wondered whether it’s appropriate to have a church in Second Life, but I don’t see their point of view.  If you’re going to have shops, movie production companies, libraries, and clubs (which they do), you should certainly have church, too, if nothing else, to provide balance.  The discussion reminds me of Psalm 139:
7Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?

   8If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

   9If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;

   10Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

   11If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.

   12Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

How about a new version of verse 8:
If I ascend up into Beliefnet.net, thou art there.  If I make my bed in NudeTeenCheerleaders.com, behold, thou art there.

There isn’t any place where God isn’t, and if we’re going to spend time on the Internet, we need to know that God is there, too.  So, if you’re on SL, come to the Anglican Cathedral of Second Life, and we’ll hang out!

September 1, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

Musing

I realized this evening that I was the person who accompanied Dad on his exploration of religion.  I don’t know if Mom didn’t want to, or if it was just that it was a lot less trouble to get one parent and one kid to a different church than it would have been to take all four kids, of assorted ages, even with both parents.  For whatever reason, though, it was me who went with him.

That had a decisive effect on my decision not to join the church, which I still remember as one of the important points of my life, and as one of the highest parenting points Mom and Dad reached!  I was the first kid in the church’s 40-year history not to join up at the end of Communicants’ Class in the 8th grade.  We had been given 2 years (I think) of church history, beliefs of the Presbyterian Church, ethical and moral instruction, and so on, which was to be capped by reciting the Apostles’ Creed in question-and-answer format and joining the church.  (BTW, I didn’t realize until much later how grossly the Dear Ladies who taught the classes misrepresented the Presbyterian Church.  I’m not really sure what the dogma of that church is, but it’s not what these lovely people, volunteering out of kindness and a desire to shape young lives, thought it was!)  We were taken around to other churches (I remember Greek Orthodox and Catholic, at least) and places of worship (including the synagogue), and told about world religions in general.  Looking back on it, if it had been taught by competent teachers (having ministers do it would have been a start!), it would have been a very valuable experience, which I would recommend to other organized religions.

Anyway, I think Dad first suggested we visit another church after I’d started visiting them with my CC group.  I remember for sure that we went to the Unitarian church, because I was outraged that they required communicants to be at least 17 years old!  Didn’t they think we 13-year-olds were capable of making good decisions?

I always discussed religion with both Mom and Dad (actually, I think I remember more specific discussions with Mom).  With Mom, I think it was more likely to grow out of something neat – a flock of birds, or a sunset, or something like that.  On the other hand, with Dad it would more often come out of a discussion of literature, or sometimes TV.  We read poetry and plays together (that’s one of the few things I really miss about childhood – that, and singing in choirs, and going to church camp), and talked about the motivations of characters, or why they were written.

So, since I was having these discussions about religion, and reading about it on my own (the very few books on witchcraft, historical and nature religions, and other world religions which junior-high kids could get hold of in the early 70s), of course I tried to engage other Communicants in dialogue.  Sometimes it went great – I still remember a wonderful twilight discussion about what we thought Heaven would be like.  But they didn’t really seem to think it had to do with anything.  As the time approached to repeat, “I believe in God the Father Almighty… and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord…,” I asked them if they were going to be able to do that.  They looked at me in different shades of quizzical – of course they could.  How could they not?  Well, so they did believe all that?  Answers differed, from “Not really,” through “I guess so,” to “Yes!  Of course!”  But every last one of them was planning to get up in front of the Elders (and God and everybody!) at the Communicants’ Dinner at the end of the school year and swear that they believed the Apostles’ Creed, and join the church.

I asked the ones who weren’t really convinced how they could do that, stand up and swear to something they might or might not actually believe.  None of them could see any kind of connection there – they’d been going to class for 2 years so they could join the church.  Period.  If they didn’t join, their parents would kill them, or they wouldn’t get a present.  And there was really no reason not to.

I couldn’t, though!  And I still don’t understand how they could.  I sometimes wonder how many of them are divorced – did they get that this was a promise and a vow, and that they shouldn’t do it if they weren’t sure?

Mom and Dad were fantastic, though.  They completely stood behind me, whether it was the poor Dear Ladies who were our teachers, or the ministers, or the parents of the other communicants asking anxiously if they’d heard that I was considering this rash act.  They both, always, said that it was my decision and that if the church members had any questions, they could ask me.  I discussed it with both of them, several times.  They both answered any questions I asked, but didn’t editorialize unless I asked for an opinion.  I’ve been so proud of them ever since!  I’ve boasted on them to lots of people – I know that at least one person who reads this has already heard the story.  Their own beliefs have diverged, but they both still talk to me about religion, which is neat.

February 9, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment