Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church

So I went to church today. Not just any church, but the local church of my cultural branch of Christianity. I was baptized into this Church (with a capital "C," meaning the whole organization-- not this particular building and congregation), but since we didn't have one in my hometown, I probably have been to 10 services in my entire life. Maybe 15, but I think that's being generous. Basically, my parents would take my sister and me whenever the priest came to visit our town, and then, I've been 4 times after that. So, maybe 15 isn't so far off.

Usually, when I go to one of these churches for service, people turn around and stare at me, but refuse to talk to me. These churches don't get a lot of new people. They really don't. They are not out there recruiting. They are not even speaking English during most of the service. Hell, any of the service! If you're lucky, the priest will repeat his community announcements in English. You are only going to go there if you're in the ethnic group. Even if you're a member of a related church that isn't represented in town, you would probably go to another branch of the related churches, because there are at least two related branches that are way bigger than we are. This is what my aunt and uncle do in my hometown, since we don't have a church there. They go to a bigger, more established church that is in the same vein.

This church was better. The lady who runs the church office (and directs the choir) was delighted to meet me, and wants to hook me up with whatever she can. I think I've even been roped into singing in the choir next week, even though I am totally unfamiliar with the service, and I don't speak the language.

So I'm going to go next week. I am somewhat ambivalent about it, though. Going to ethnic church means giving up a lot of the spiritual education and growth that I would get at a more traditional church. It's not like there's going to be a lot of intellectual curiosity there- they've done things the same way for over 1700 years. On the other hand, my cultural heritage and the church are inextricably intertwined, and there is something really, really powerful about knowing that my dead grandmother sat and listened to the same service, word for word.

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