Saturday, January 26, 2008

Chapter One: I am the Church, You are the Church...

The Good Shepherd Episcopal Church is located in Rocky Mount, NC. They run a pretty good preschool there, from what I can remember. The details are sketchy, but I know that they had a sidewalk that ran through their play area. I also know that in 1982, a 3-year-old boy was standing in a wagon on that sidewalk. I know that the wagon was pulled. I know that the boy wasn't expecting that at all and fell out of the wagon, crashing his head into the previously mentioned sidewalk. I know that his ears rang for at least the rest of the day. I know that, because it's my first memory. At a church, on the ground, my ears ringing, and no clue about God, Jesus, prayer, or the Church.

There just aren't too many children out there that are going to get excited about concepts like "Alpha and Omega" or even "died for my sins." They know what they're supposed to say. The answer to all questions asked in a children's Sunday School class are either 1) "Jesus" or 2) "The Bible." They know the stories that they're told. Adam & Eve, Cain & Abel, Noah's Ark, Abraham almost killing his kid, Jacob wrestling the angel, Moses & Pharaoh, Joshua & the Battle of Jericho, David & Goliath, Sampson & Delilah, Jonah & the Whale, The Birth of Christ, Jesus' parables, a few miracles, Palm Sunday, The Last Supper, The Death of Christ, The Resurrection of Christ, Saul on the Road to Damascus becoming the Apostle Paul, and they have a vague idea that they're supposed to be impressed by how young Timothy is. They don't really know what any of that means, though.

For example, there was Sammi. Sammi was in third or fourth grade(take your pick...I can't remember) when her parents allowed her to stay for Holy Communion. The bread went by and she took her piece, and I soon followed with the tray of shot glasses full of grape juice. I handed it to Sammi and said "Sammi, this is the blood of Christ..." That was all I got out before she screamed right at me, in that shrill little voice that all little girls have when they need it, "Ewww!" Sammi could rattle off the story of the Last Supper without so much as an "Um..." escaping her lips.

That's not to say that the Church is totally inaccessible to children. There are two things that I could understand and embrace as a child growing up in the Church.

1) God loves me and all God wants is that love returned.

It seemed simple enough to me. God never got fussed with me when I would play with the automatic doors at the Harris Teeter. My mom did. God never made fun of me for dropping pop flies to right field. My friends did. God never yelled at me for running the water hose and making dams in the driveway. My dad did. I didn't know exactly who or what God was, but I was glad to have God there.

2) The Church is not the building, it's the people.

I don't know why I fixated on this aspect of the Church so much as a child. I would correct people when they would refer to buildings as churches, insisting that the people who met in those buildings were the Church. I was particularly proud to be able to call myself a part of that group. My care to take this fact to heart is also part of what bothers me the most about what's happening to my faith now, but I'll get to that later.

As a child, my life revolved around the various parishes my parents were charged with ministering to. There were Cub Scout meetings, bazaars with toys and treats, plays, and songs. I loved those. There were strangers' family reunions, boring meetings where my brothers and I would have to sit outside of the church offices and be quiet, and old ladies that would scowl at us for daring to giggle in church. What was important to me, though, were those two truths that I could understand and cling to. What mattered to me was that everyone around me was in this thing called Christianity - whatever that meant - together. What mattered to me was that we were all loved by this all-seeing all-knowing mystery called God.

What I want...right 28 years of age...I want to be able to feel like that again when I walk into a sanctuary on a Sunday morning. I want to feel like all that's important is God's love and the fact that the people around me are all in this thing called Christianity with me.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Chapter Zero: Let's see how long this lasts

It's going to get a little uncomfortable for some folks who I know read this. I've been noodling over putting together some of my thoughts about the Christian faith on another blog. What it means to me, where it is, where I want it to be...that sort of thing.

Instead, I'm just going to add them here in between all of my regular entries about funnybooks, political outrage, weird things I find, and ramblings about the ever-blurring line between TMZ and ESPN. That way I can break it up and allow for entries based on lighter fare, such as stuff I find awesome that also happens to be on YouTube.

If you want to skip it, that's what's up with the "Chapter Zero" nonsense. If it's a chapter, wait until the next post when I'm sure to have some enlightening thoughts about Lindsay Lohan's coke addiction, what the Hurricaness power play needs to do, or how awesome some old TV show was.

If you want to read it, please do. I'm thinking some things through "out loud" with those entries, and wouldn't mind a few folks "thinking back" at me.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

if he hadn't been on vacation so much, it would have been more

Well, independent studies have now concluded what we all already knew. The Bush administration lied to get us to war. 935 separate times.

Hands up, everyone who's surprised.

No one? Not any of you?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

it's the end of the world as we know it(and honestly, i'm a little sleepy)

The first official North Carolina Winter Weather Freak-Out of 2007 came down yesterday afternoon. At the temporary gig, I was told to take the lap top home with me because I could very well end up working from home what with all of the winter weather that was about to smack the area.

If I had gone to a grocery store yesterday evening, I would have noticed the Freak-Out gaining momentum as people buy up milk and bread in massive quantities(I've never understood why a Winter Weather Advisory fires the thing in people's brains that signals "I must get bread and milk quickly, for there's snow a-comin'"). As I drove through suburban Durham, I noticed people strategically parking their cars in strange ways and places to avoid the embarrassment and heartache of getting stuck in what was sure to be the second ice age that was on the way.

As I drove to Raleigh to teach a class at The Worx, I noticed that the major roads had already been covered in whatever space-aged agent they use here to prevent freezing. I was actually impressed. It seems that the lessons of a few years back when the entire city of Raleigh was crippled by one inch of snow* to the point that people were sleeping in their cars and in Chili's restaurants because the traffic on the roads was so deadlocked that they couldn't get home.

Still, I understood where we are and what the weather does here(never underestimate the power of one semester of meteorology at NC State) and tried to convince he who was bestowing the lap top that it was unnecessary to be prepping me for homework no matter what Winter Weather Advisory was in effect. My friend unswayed, I took the laptop home with the battery and mouse in my jacket pockets wondering how much it looked like I was making a poor attempt at equipment thievery.

Well, it's 7:30am the next day, and I'm in slacks and a button down shirt watching the news and seeing the two-hour delays that all the schools are granting themselves just to be sure that all the rain doesn't suddenly turn deadly. If I was going to be working from home, rest assured that I'd still be in my pj's and probably still in bed and waiting until 7:59 to get out of it and start my remote jobbing. Nope, I'm going to shut this computer down, get in the car, and drive through the rain to be at work just like I thought I would be.

Because the first Winter Weather Freak-Out of the year is always useless.

*There are some who say that it wasn't the one inch of snow that caused the problem but the sheet of ice that formed over I-40. They're wrong. What actually caused the problem was the entire city freaking out about that one inch of snow at the exact same time and putting way more cars on the road at one time than we could even come close to handling. Liddy Dole and Richard Burr, however, are under the impression that there's no reason they should seek any kind of funding for public transportation for Raleigh, though. It's not because they don't believe in pork. They totally believe in pork. It's because they're idiots. And bad people.

Monday, January 14, 2008

remember how well that gossip show worked out for you, espn?

The good news? At least the Cowboys won't be going to the Super Bowl. The bad news? The line between ESPN and Access Hollywood will continue to blur as I'm quite certain that Sportscenter, Around the Horn, Jim Rome is Burning, Mike and Mike, Pardon the Interruption, and whatever else I'm missing will all take more time talking about what affect Jessica Simpson had on the Cowboys' performance than they will about all of the NHL games played over the weekend combined(the Hurricanes, for the record, blew a lead against the Avs to continue their woeful last few months).

Since I'm clearly a follower, I must also weigh in. All of Dallas had the time off. The whole team. If Romo wasn't on a "sexy, romantic getaway" with Jessica Simpson and her dad(only Jessica Simpson's dad could possibly find chaperoning his daughter's date sexy and romantic...because he's creepy like that...have you ever heard him talk about his daughter's breasts?), he would have been somewhere else not playing football, not watching film, and not studying the play book. Can we please talk about sports now?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

the worst half of college basketball i've ever watched

A more than 30 point loss in Chapel Hill following a first half in which the UNC student body actually applauded when NC State finally hit a shot after missing 16 in a row. It's more embarrassing than embarrassing, really.

I didn't think I'd miss college football season...