Saturday, April 29, 2006

Next time I'll try a moratorium on moratoria

I decided this week to declare a moratorium on thinking about religion, but obviously I didn't stick to it or I wouldn't be writing this. And twice in the past two days I've been involved in extended discussions about the subject. Talk about falling off the wagon big time.

Yesterday, I had a long chat with the Episcopal chaplain at the university. Today, I spent an hour and a half in an inquirer's class at the Episcopal church I've been attending. Yesterday was like being in college. Today was nice in its own way but it was more like being in confirmation class. I hadn't realized until yesterday just how much I needed to have a conversation like the one I had with the chaplain.

We covered a range of topics, from church history to Biblical exegesis to theology and liturgy, not to mention the personal stuff. It was really very interesting and informative. I came away with a couple of books I am looking forward to reading, which I should have more time for now that we are coming into the last week of class at the university. I wasn't really looking for advice and he didn't offer much beyond the suggestion that I might want to proceed with caution. As if I were ever anything but cautious.

This afternoon we gathered in the church basement, where there are no windows, sad on such a beautiful spring day. There were six of us, including two boys who came with their mother. We didn't speak about ourselves in depth, so my impressions might not be accurate, but they all seemed to have chosen to join this church mostly because it feels like a nice place to be. And indeed it does. So nice that I keep coming back, even as I'm deciding it isn't the right place for me. My heart goes in one direction while my head stays someplace else (and sometimes vice versa).

It was interesting to note that every single one of us potential Episcopal converts had some previous affiliation with the Roman Catholic church--as did the priest from yesterday's discussion, who was raised Catholic and converted in his 20s. Two of the women had followed their Catholic husbands into the church and then back out again. One had been raised Catholic but had followed her husband into the Episcopal church. I was thinking that Catholics are like ants; no one worries about how many don't make it because there are still so many left when they're gone. The two women whose husbands were Catholic had previously attended the local Catholic mega-church; one commented that there were times when she would look around and realize she didn't know a single other person there. Been there; did that.

The priest brought a selection of books down to the class and told us to go ahead and borrow anything we wanted. I was the only one to accept the offer. More books; yeah! (And so much for that moratorium on thinking about religion.)

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