church shopping

I’ve always considered myself an agnostic. I’d even go so far as to say that the god I’m pretty sure exists (at least I think he exists, although I wouldn’t really bother to argue the matter so don’t try to bait me in either direction – it would just feel like freshman year of college all over again) is modeled largely after the christian god I heard about growing up and attending a pretty typical northeastern Presbyterian church… the kind of church that makes Christians of the capital C variety scream because the sermon often made reference to Time Magazine articles or the Wall Street Journal, and Bible lessons began with etymology of the original Greek. Yeah, it was a liberal, intellectual church attended by upper middle class lawyers and doctors that was heavy on the history lecture, light on the fire and brimstone.  And I loved it.

On the other hand.  I married a man whose parents were such evangelical Christians that he’s never dressed up for Halloween. And the man who married us, his childhood minister, managed to work in an anti-gay marriage, pro-life, creationalist message while delivering our very brief ceremony.  Honestly, it was so extreme it was comical. 

All this is to give context to our recent parenting adventure – church shopping.  You see, since high school, I could probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve gone to church.  I know it’s something I should do, even something I enjoy doing (yes, I know pleasure is not the reason I should go, but whatever), but the prospects of finding a church in the South that didn’t give me hives seemed dismal at best.  And so, I didn’t bother.

Until we were pregnant.  And then we began shopping around.  Because while my husband could cultivate his relationship with god fine on his own and I was content with my laissez-faire approach to mine, I was not about to take such a casual approach to the small one’s salvation.  Of course, my opinion on religion largely boils down to my approach to food – how do you know you don’t like it if you havent’ tried it?

First we tried the Episcopalians, but it seemed too light, even for me.  We tried the church my husband’s grandmother helped found, but it was definitely too intense, not to mention my complete inability to deal with contemporary services – who thought it was a good idea to use a guitar at church?  And finally, we settled on an older Presbyterian church with a traditional service and plenty of blue haired ladies (a prerequisite of mine – church needs to have old people, I have no idea why but it does). 

And then we had the small one.  And we didn’t go again.  Until this weekend.

We thought we had the timing perfect – he ate at 9:45, and the service started at 11:15, just when he should be going down for a nap.  The optimal word being should.  Honestly, it went pretty smoothly considering.  He hung out in the magic chair for the first third of the service, spent the second third sitting on my lap, and then decided he wanted to play, at which point my husband spent the remaining third standing in the foyer and walking around with the boy so he’d stay quiet.  Not a bad first showing, but definitely not something I’d catagorize as a success, either.

Unfortunately, what we failed to anticipate was how such a modest change in schedule would rock the small one, who spent the next three hours in a general state of discontent (meaning I spent the next three hours holding him).  He finally crashed for a good nap and all was restored to normal, but my husband and I were left exhausted.  We know we want to go back… okay, what we want is to be able to get the small one baptised and eventually have him go to Sunday school and learn about Noah’s Arc, etc. etc., but the actually attending church with a four month old is not something I’m looking forward to attempting each week.

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