Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Mere Christianity

Lydia and I went and visited St. Bartholomew's Parish Church next door, today. Although we've been here for two months, we've never actually been to it, which is really kind of funny, because every town we've visited thus far Avram and I searched out the local church and saw it, but we hadn't even walked the twenty feet to the church next door.

I accidentally interrupted their Wednesday morning service, but thankfully they were almost done; it was peopled with about 10-15 older women (and one man), and then the vicar himself, who was an energetic younger man named Andrew. They all loved Lydia, and Andrew was very welcoming to us. As the women talked to each other and to us after the service, and then as they discussed upcoming social/church events, I suddenly felt a great urge to become Anglican. Don't worry, I didn't get baptized; although I love the social aspects of a church in ones neighborhood, and the traditional buildings of the Anglicans, the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints keeps me firmly.

But wouldn't it be nice to have a Christmas Eve Midnight Mass? Even if we are Mormon? And I think that lay priesthood is great, but wouldn't it be cool if our bishop wore robes every Sunday? Sometimes I wish we didn't save all of the the pomp and circumstance and cool clothing for the Temple, but spread it out to the rest of our meetings as well. Of course, I know the cassock and alb are remnants of Roman Secular Dress, and don't necessarily represent religious needs and ideas, still, they look cool. If our church ever does take up wearing the cassock, alb, surplice and tunicle, Avram will be ready to be called as a bishop; I've already made him a very historically accurate set of priestly clothing, although it was out of blue silk, and blue isn't one of the traditional liturgical colors.

Regardless, St. Bartholomew's captured my heart for the moment, between the building itself, the sense of community, and the sheer close location to my domicile. The building dates from the thirteenth century, with additions up through the seventeenth century, when the Spencer family built a separate chapel chock full of dead family members and the associate requisite statues and effigies. The pews and stained glass windows are 'modern,' coming from the early 1800s. Also there I learned that our cottage, which used to be the vicar's cottage until 20 years ago, dates from the mid-1600s. I had no idea I was living in quarters (granted, ours would have been the servant's quarters if he had any) dating that old. I think the oldest house I've lived in up to this point has been far under a hundred years old.

There's a firm history for the blending of the Anglican and Mormon churches, though. After all, C.S. Lewis, as we all know, although a technical member of the Anglican church, was actually secretly Mormon, and the sheer number of quotes from him in conference and other church meetings testify. So maybe I can be like that from the other direction; become socially Anglican, while doctrinally still Mormon...Mmm, I'm not sure I could get that one passed the bishop.

Speaking of church dealings, on Saturday we went down to Oxford for a festival of lighting the Christmas lights. While there we were approached by a young women with a thick accent, who introduced herself as from Hungary, and a nun looking for charitable donations. Well, Avram and I were feeling charitable, it being Christmas and all, gave her two pounds for the cause of nunnery. Then she gave us a complimentary book...on Yoga...from the Hare Krishna. I didn't even know they had nuns. Is everyone considered a nun? Regardless, we felt kind of put upon, because nothing against the Hare Krishna per se, but we were under the impression we were donating to a Catholic nun, for the cause of Catholicism, which we much more agree with.

So now we have this yoga book, which Lydia upon seeing all the nice colored pictures of Krishna, plus the book is small, so it's just her size, decided belonged to her. So our daughter now carries around with her a nice yoga book, and thumbs through it while talking to herself. I hope this doesn't make her grow up to become Hare Krishna.


  1. I'm glad you have a testimony in all of this other religion exposure but it is educational to see life from other's point of view. Take advantage of it when it is so close and accessible. You never know so fully what you believe until you find yourself explaining it to yourself or others through their glasses.

  2. I offer as my comment this snippet of Philip Larkin's "Church Going":

    For, though I've no idea
    What this accoutred frowsty barn is worth,
    It pleases me to stand in silence here;

    A serious house on serious earth it is,
    In whose blent air all our compulsions meet,
    Are recognized, and robed as destinies.
    And that much never can be obsolete,
    Since someone will forever be surprising
    A hunger in himself to be more serious,
    And gravitating with it to this ground,
    Which, he once heard, was proper to grow wise in,
    If only that so many dead lie round.

    Was proper to grow wise in. I love those words. They just stuck in my brain. And they float through my head on Sundays in the summer, when I cannot make it to the nearest LDS church in Bemidji and instead attend Mass or the Lutheran service--or even just take a few minutes for myself at the end of the dock, watching the gray sky in the water. The priesthood may not be here, but if I approach it in the right spirit, it may be ground proper to grow wise in. So enjoy your wonderful little Anglican Church, seek the companionship of neighbors and the Spirit, and grow wise. That's my advice.

  3. My family had a tradition of going to Midnight Lutheran Mass even though we are Mormon. It was fun to see the ceremony and to be a part of culture that our ancestors had been a part of of for years and years.
    They also do a nice easter ceremony as well which was conveniently after our ward so we went there with our aunt, who is Lutheran.

    Admittedly Lutheran ceremony and such is very stripped down and all.

    I'm surprised though that going to many other churches just feels the same. To me Catholic Service versus Lutheran Service had very little difference, oddly it was the same when we attended Synagogue one Saturday on my mission. Standing up and sitting down reading from a prayer book and saying things. The Jewish meeting though had more singing from a very very skilled Canter.

    Anyway thats my two bits

  4. You're not aghast at the pomp and the vestments? You're not outraged at the reforms of William Laud? You don't see these as ploys to secretly re-Popify the English church?

    John Milton would be very sad.

    Though I don't think he would be too impressed with Krishna Consciousness either.

    Then again, he was a Cambridge man.

    - Matt