Bruce (kor27) wrote,

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Close Encounters of the Religious Kind

misswong77 again invited me to one of her services yesterday morning. This time I actually went - if only because she also invited timenchanter. It wasn't so much, as Timmie seemed to think, that he can get me up and ready. It was far more that I was entering the realm of unreality with a piece of sanity at my side.

As far as I can recall, I've never been to a "normal" service. I've been to several weddings, some funerals, and a couple of baptisms, but never one like this. This was also a more modern, "hip" service, which is why Lucinda was fronting a full rock ensemble - plus a small wind/brass section which seemed to have a lot more enthusiasm than talent.

Her singing was flawless, as usual. I can't say the lyrics or backgrounds were all that, or even fit together logically in a couple of cases, but the result was on the whole pleasing.

As Timmie will definitely attest, it's a very welcoming, pleasant congregation. Timmie's in fact a little disturbed by the number of them he knows.

We were a little concerned how we'd handle communion, but gracious refusal was met with a gracious response. So we did without our wafer and wine (or wine substitute), the latter pre-measured into tiny plastic cups that fit into a special wire loop in the back of the chairs.

By contrast, the sermon could be best described as, well, "disturbing" is what comes to mind. It was one of those wonderful expositions that, on the face of it, holds together nicely - until you start actually considering it.

Granted, my premises and his are quite different. But some things, well...

Let's take the declaration that "There are no contradictions in scripture." Given all the literature about said contradictions, not to mention the myriad of schisms, there's only one premise that would make it work, and that's simply taking the lack of contradictions as a premise itself - there can be none, therefore those glaring differences are simply a matter of misunderstanding.

Of course, it also involves the basic hubris that you, personally, know what the correct interpretation must be, at least if you're also talking about downplaying a parishioner's religious experience as false, simply because it doesn't "accord with scripture."

The main topic of the sermon was courage, as exemplified in the Book of Nehemiah. I decided to read the book - which is pretty short. The "courage" aspect was that he refused to attend a meeting with area rulers, since they were plotting to kill him.

Reading the book, the likelihood is that he thought they would because that's what he'd do. The pastor mentioned his project to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem - but not the enforcement of racial purity and the cutoff of trade with all non-jews.

There's a hell of a lot of downright evil stuff in the old testament.

According to the pastor, the lesson to be learned is that one must "courageously" and unwaveringly follow any task set by God. Courage is not what I hear from the story - courage would be taking the risks involved in negotiating with your neighbors.

But separate from all that is the perturbing form of the lesson itself. Essentially, once one has decided that a task has been set by God, one should never waver in its accomplishment.

This would be fine with me if we received clear, unambiguous messages from God. But we don't. If we did, there'd be one single world religion.

Sigh. The fairly obvious - though never stated - Bush reference was also hard to take. Though I noted later that it didn't appear that Nehemiah got the Jews to rebuild the wall by lying about an imminent attack - though I suppose he could have.

Anyway, I sat through all of that - periodically having to tell myself to uncross my arms.

From the church, a group of us went to Panera for lunch. Again, nice people. I had a good time.

Timmie went off to hike with Lucinda, and I took Fawkes home, supposedly to rest.

Instead, I went out, mailed my bills at Eastridge, walked the renovated mall (I can't say I'm hugely impressed by the changes), then bought a scale at Target.

An hour or so of rest, then off to the show.

The show tonight was fun, as usual, but pretty slow. The rotation stayed around 13 for most of the night, which would have been quite decent if there had been spectators in the bar, as well.

Still, it was a good time. valeriesparks and her boy were there for most of the night, as was hollyk. trivialt didn't show, which is too bad, since I had something for him. Sunny and Roy did, however. As did rickshaw.

We had fun, we went 7 rounds, and then I headed home. Where I will shortly go to bed. I'm mostly over the symptoms, but I still didn't sleep well last night.

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