Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Place for Us.

One of the pleasant surprises of my courtship with my husband was finding out how religious he is. He was an altar boy, a friend to many visiting priests, and the dutiful son to a woman who was most often photographed holding her Bible. While for many people, finding a man with a healthy religious appetite might be a problem - a deterrent, for me I felt relieved. Especially relieved when I realized that he still believed that people need to live their lives, take care of themselves and their families, and not hold so tightly to religious dogma that they end up hurting people even more.

"Finally!" I thought. "Someone that might understand me and might not be totally overwhelmed by my parents."

So I still get excited when he wanders in on Sunday morning to my still slumbering lump-of-a-body and asks if I want to go to church. I'm usually up in an instant and we're out the door and on our way!

I've written before about the transition for me about getting used to the subtle differences between Episcopal services and Catholic services, but boy do I have a story to tell from Sunday.

First, the homily was about the late Senator Ted Kennedy, a controversial figure, sure, but one that championed equality, civil rights, and a more level playing ground for all - economically, socially - in health care, in schools, and in society in general. Perhaps he was not someone that I would raise to the level of a "hero" but certainly he did good things for people throughout his career, and I admire him for that.

Back to the homily. So the priest suggested that the Catholic church made a major misstep by not highlighting the fact that Senator Kennedy was pro-abortion during the funeral. I was offended. First, by the terminology: Pro-choice does not mean Pro-abortion. Second, how rude to speak ill, and potentially slander, the recently deceased, and third, the priest admitted that he did not even watch all the coverage of the event.

Blood boiling... must calm down and not shout down the good Father.

Then, to add insult to injury, during the sign of Peace - the part of the service where the congregation greets one another and says "Peace be with you" - perhaps my favorite action in all of Christian liturgy, the man next to me would not shake my hand. He crossed his arms and shook his head. If he had not been greeting the other ushers earlier in the service, then I might think he had a cold or something, but no... he made no mention of any sickness, went up for communion and drank from the chalice like everyone else.

So then why was I rebuffed?

Well, Charles happens to be the only non-white person in the congregation. He says he doesn't even try to shake people's hands anymore. Sad. Sad. Sad.

I'm glad that I openly kissed him and held his hand during the service. I love having a partner who shares my faith. From now on though, I will be trying to convince him to switch to another church - one that perhaps is more diverse.

One thing I know for sure. Later in the day, we were watching West Side Story and when the song Somewhere came on, I could not keep from tearing up. Excuse me while I launch this post firmly into the realm of melodrama by reposting the lyrics:

There's a place for us,
Somewhere a place for us.
Peace and quiet and open air
Wait for us

There's a time for us,
Some day a time for us,
Time together with time spare,
Time to learn, time to care,
Some day!

We'll find a new way of living,
We'll find a way of forgiving
Somewhere . . .

There's a place for us,
A time and place for us.
Hold my hand and we're halfway there.
Hold my hand and I'll take you there
Some day,


John Paxton said...

And, in capsule, you have why I left the Catholic church.

Kathryn said...

It's a shame that the intolerant and dogmatic have begun to use the church as their stronghold. It makes me sad and distrustful.

I still want to raise my kids in the church - but I don't want them to learn this behavior.

John Paxton said...

I should clarify, your examples aren't the *only* reasons I left the church. There are tons of other good reasons to leave as well.

That said, good luck. The only way the church is going to change is if people work from within. You are, as usual, choosing a bit of an uphill climb, the right over the easy. :)

craige said...

Is there a chance he would consider becoming an Episcopalian?