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3:55 p.m. - September 09, 2005
A Date With Church. No Smiting, Please!
Ok, everyone who was a child of the 70ís, cue up the Maxine Nightengale. Because weíre gonna get right back to where we started from. (If you werenít a child of the 70ís, just imagine me as a 7th grader roller skating to a tune like that Ė a sight to see, for sure).

And really, the above paragraph has little to do with the rest of this, except that I did get right back to where I started from.

When we moved back to Crawfordsville, Liz wondered if we were going to start going to church. We never joined a church in Zionsville. In fact, since I graduated from high school in 1984 Iíve been to church only once or twice in my life.

I was a member and a regular attendee of a Methodist church here in town. It was a small, but pleasant church. Definitely Methodist Ė they didnít push their views on people and most of the congregation were very nice people who truly cared about doing the right thing and practicing what they believed in.

That is, until they decided to kick the minister out.

There was a group of people that for whatever reason, didnít like the minister. He was a nice, decent man Ė a simple preacher that reflected (I felt) the area and its surroundings. No, he wasnít urbane, but he definitely was a man of faith and was a good person.

But they booted him. And once I went to college, disgusted by that whole thing, I never went back. Later, all of the idiotic stuff from people like Falwell, Bakker, Robertson, and Swaggert popped up and I basically divorced myself from organized religion.

When Liz and I got married, I made SURE my old minister married us!

In college, I worked for the local radio station and in doing so I worked with the local pastor of an Apostolic Pentecostal church. He always came to the station on Sunday to record his churchís radio show. It was a rock-n-roll affair. But he always fouled the production room with the worst cologne, ever. He had evangelist hair, and drove a huge Lincoln Town Car. All that, and he had the poorest congregation in town.

Turns out he was kiting checks Ė he got sent up the river for a spell.

But Iíve always been somewhat spiritual. I always think that everything does happen for a reason, and thereís some sense and purpose to this all.

However, Iíve always been a skeptic. Even in elementary school, when I studied mythology for the first time, I thought that the story of creation in Genesis was a good creation myth much like the creation myth for other cultures. I also thought that a lot of the books and teachings in the bible were allegorical, and not literal. A good story, or parables, as it were. Think about it, there are four books about Jesusí life and they all tell the story a bit different, with details changed here and there and some events in this book and not the other. Itís like having four disparate biographies.

Then thereís the whole Old Testament, which is part history, part mind numbingly boring listings about Jewish law (if you want to go to sleep, fast, just read Leviticus), and part prophesy from people who we would now consider nutballs. Maybe they were nutballs back then, too. I mean, you avoid those wacky people going around spewing doom and gloom, right?

Job, though, what a smashing tale! Thereís a movie in there, somewhere. But somehow I donít think itíd be right for Vince Vaughan, Ben Stiller, Will Ferrell, and Steve Carrell. Well, at least not based on the last treatment I saw. Maybe the story needs to be pepped up a bit. A little sex, some action, you knowÖ.

(Yeah, I know, Iíve already punched my ticket down belowÖ)

When people get up and spew hatred and bigotry in the name of religion that really burns me up. How can men of God, or women of God, want to discriminate or eliminate other people who just have a different belief or lifestyle? Are we not all of Godís children? Love your brother, and all that? I donít care what you believe, or who you love, just love and respect each other, OK? Thatís all I ask!

Ah, well, off the soapbox.

When I took my trip to Alaska I came away with a sense of the vastness of this world, the beauty and the majesty. And even if the world evolved basically on its own, there is something, out there, somewhere, who may have thrown the switch on the Big Bang, or started the single mutation that created evolution. Maybe, perhaps. As you can see, Iím really firm on this thing here.

Three times Iíve taken a quiz, The Belief-O-Matic at just to see what, if any religion, Iím compatible with. According to that, Iím either:

1. A Neo-Pagan
2. A Unitarian
3. A Liberal Protestant

I laughed about the Neo-Paganism link. I took that test the first time right after I got back from Alaska and was really all about the Earth and conservation. Though I donít think thereís many Pagans running around BFE Indiana.

Never number one, but high on the list each time, was Liberal Quaker. Iím into the pacifism, the peacefulness, but while we were watching the last season of Six Feet Under they had a few glimpses of a Quaker meeting, and Liz turned to me and said, ďYouíd never make it as a Quaker. You couldnít keep quiet for an hour!Ē

What I am not, according to Beliefnet?

1. Roman Catholic
2. Islamic
3. Mormon

I always chuckle at Roman Catholic, because I have a lot of friends who are Catholic and they are a lot like me. But what Catholic Church says, officially, is how they score that test.

I donít think I would be a good Muslim Ė especially with their views on the subjugation of women. I canít picture Liz in a burkah. Oh, and the no beer or wine thing is right out.

After we got settled here in town, we did decide that we would look for a church. Liz had been a member of a group called MOPS, Mothers of Pre-School Children, and itís faith-based but not overtly preachy. So she thought it would be nice to join a church and get Katie exposed to a little religion and morality.

Liz thinks like me, though, in many respects about love and caring and sharing, so we knew what denominations we didnít want to support. Liz also feels strongly about womenís issues, so we wanted a church that supported women and their rights, at least allowed them to become ministers.

The QB invited us to his church, which is the largest church in the county. Itís a Baptist church and itís a lot different than what I was used to. I was used to a calm, sedate service, with some hymns and sharing of good tidings. Not there. It was a large congregation Ė and they had a lot of whiz-bang things. They used a power point presentation along with the sermon so you could follow along with the talking points. Was I at church or a conference?? HmmmÖ

Liz was rather much freaked by it all, especially since there were baptisms going on at this service. Baptists really believe in the whole immersion thing, trust me. All that and the amens and all were kind of foreign to her. Turns out she hadnít really gone to many Protestant services, and those were mainly Episcopalian services, which is basically Catholic light.

The people at this church were nice, and I know a lot of them. In fact, they were all Stepford-esque nice to us. This church then called us about three times and had someone come over to visit us. They really put the full court press on us, but we just felt it wasnít a good fit.

About two months ago, we got a visit from some older cousins of ours, wanting to see Kristin. (Everyone wants to see the baby now Ė weíre just wallpaper it seems!) They mentioned that my old church was building up again. It turns out after the palace coup that the church basically split, but the new minister was trying to build up momentum again and make it a nice, quiet place full of loving people.

This old church of mine is basically three blocks from our house. In fact, Katie goes to Montessori school in the basement of this church.

Then we were invited to a fall festival at this church on a Saturday. That was rather fun Ė a lot of the people there recognized me (even after 20 years) and wondered how I was and all. It didnít seem Stepford-esque at all; it was rather genuine.

So we decided to go to church there once just to try it out. And it was just as I remembered before they turned on my old minister. Messages of hope and love, a place to unburden yourself, and where the people are seemingly genuine, and they wonít judge you if you donít believe in a totally strict way. In fact, the minister will engage you in some theological discussions, which is always refreshing.

So weíve been to church there three times. I suppose you can say weíre ďdatingĒ the church. But Liz wants to try the Episcopal Church in town, just to see. She missed the whole ritual thing Ė the ďstand up, sit down, fight fight fightĒ aspect that she grew up in.

Well, I suppose if weíre just DATING my old church, and not committed to it, itíll be OK.


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