Archive for March, 2007

By the way…

…a few weeks ago, I brought up James Dobson and his crew of letter-signers who wanted the vice president of the NAE to be fired for having Christian views that differed from theirs. It turns out that the NAE did no such thing and also voted at their convention to make a statement against torture. This was good to know. I’ve gotten used to Dobson and his ilk being able to define many debates and make more noise than anyone, but it’s refreshing to see a major organization feel free to ignore his pushiness and define their own position. What, you mean it’s a big tent and there’s room for everyone? 🙂

Accidents are sometimes smarter than people.

I was searching for something entirely different (now, I can’t even remember what), and came across this post at a blog called One For Truth. Zeke, the blogger, tells it all in a way I really like. He also comes up with a solution for some of my angst about the things some Christians get worked up about and that other Christians choose not to worry about. This particular post is about gay people, but his thoughts could apply to a lot of different situations.

I love the things I find by accident…

What? No communion?

This was my exact reaction to one aspect of the Presbyterian service I attended the other day. It’s not that I’ve never been to a church that didn’t have some kind of communion (or communion lite) as part of the service. But it’s been awhile, and I spent some time doing my usual worrying [“Should I do it? Should I not? Wonder where I walk to get there? I hope I don’t fall and crack a tooth.”] before I realized that there was no such in the program.

I missed it. How goofy is that? I never know whether I should do it, as I’ve discussed in earlier posts, but despite that I missed that part of the service. It seems like a very personal part of a gathering to worship, and without it, there just seemed to be something missing from the experience. I haven’t been able to determine whether this is the usual practice for Presbyterians but it doesn’t seem that way, and my gues is that it isn’t even the usual practice for this church.

What does communion (I suppose I should be saying the Eucharist) really mean to people? Do you believe in transubstantiation? What does it mean, not doctrinally, but personally to you? Comment away.

Go, Presbys!

Well. The Presbyterians know how to put on a service, I can tell you. Ministers everywhere in black robes reminiscent of advanced-degree graduations (no doubt there’s a historical reason for that), singing every other whipstitch, you name it, it was sharp.

The church I went to is located on the edge of downtown, and they make a lot of the fact that they’re an urban church. But this place was big on tradition. The church has been there since 1857 (they’re commemorating their 150th anniversary this year) and much was made in this service of the history of the church, especially a former pastor who had led the church from 1941 to 1965.

That made it an unfortunate first service for me. Not that I don’t care about history or tradition, but I didn’t get my usual dose of Thoughts to Ponder because it wasn’t exactly that kind of sermon. Still, part of the reading was from Luke, the story where the devil tempts Jesus and Jesus uses the scriptures to smack him down. That’s always a good passage for someone who is struggling to do the right thing even though the wrong thing has a great deal more appeal.

The church is huge, taking up most of a city block, and inside the sanctuary is a wide-open room in the round with a second-floor gallery. The dark wood, huge straight-backed chairs for the clergy and stained-glass windows all reminded me of an Episcopalian church I went to once. It had a nice blend of the ornate and the formal with the human and accessible, of which I’ve usually found one half or the other missing in the churches I’ve been to. The friend who suggested this church said that it has offered her opportunities to create a sense of smaller community within the larger community of the whole church.

In an odd coincidence, some friends of mine went to a different Presbyterian church today, and I’m hoping to get their take on it to add to this. More on this later.

The Presbyterians

It turns out that this week’s choice of denomination is right in line with the Scottish half of my heritage. From Idiot’s:

The PCUSA is the result of a merger of numerous strands of Presbyterianism, with its main thread having originated in Scotland in the seventeenth century.

Near as I can tell (and although I can breathe again, I can’t claim to be able to concentrate), the Presbyterians came out of the Reformed tradition, which is distinguished by its covenant theology.

Covenant theology provides a way for Reformed theologians to describe God’s contractual way of doing business….If we are obedient to the terms of the covenant, spelled out in the Gospels, God will fulfill the promises of salvation and eternal life. Some think covenant theology laid the foundation for many liberal political ideas that culminated in American democracy.

That’s kind of a cool idea. And the reason I’m visiting this church is that a friend of mine who belongs to it told me it was a nice combination of traditionalism and a vigorous commitment to social justice.

Thanks yet again

I’m on the mend and I wanted to say thanks again for all your well-wishes while I fought off the Germs of Doom. I’m on massive antibiotics and I’m still very tired but I’m more sure than ever that I’ll be in church on Sunday.

Through two colds and a funeral, you folks have given me support and kind words and I appreciate it. I think I get more than I give in this blog. 🙂

Things that make an agnostic believe in God

Whatever I say on this blog, I most definitely believe in God. There are some things which defy any other explanation. One of those things happened yesterday, and it made me laugh. As I’ve mentioned, I’m deathly ill for the second time this month. I had a bad cold that seemed to go away, but apparently the germs hid out in my lungs and mutated into some kind of horror-movie germs that can not only make me sicker than ever but also have opposable thumbs and the ability to make tools. Man.

Anyway, yesterday I determined that I had to go to the doctor. So I made an emergency appointment and headed out at the appointed time. My doctor is in downtown Minneapolis, which is not convenient now that I don’t work in downtown anymore. But I drove there without hitting a single red light. (I’m about five miles out of downtown.) I was headed for a parking garage more than a block away from the doctor’s office, when I spotted a meter less than half a block away. I parked at said meter (which is never, ever open; I used to work near there and I know this) and discovered that there was still some time on it from the previous occupant.

I arrived 15 minutes early, got in 10 minutes before my appointed time, waited for less than five minutes to talk to the doctor, got my scrip for antibiotics and was out of there. I then drove back home and didn’t hit a single red light on the way home. I’m not saying this is a miracle, but nothing like this has ever happened when I saw the doctor – I usually wait for 45 minutes and then have to wait 20 more once I get in – and the lack of red lights plus the meter suggest divine intervention.

 I am, however, still half dead. But I’m planning to visit the Presbyterians this Sunday.