A Case Of Faint Religion

14 Jan

This coming Sunday, I will be going to church. The last time this happened, it was to attend the funeral for Gerard’s 103-year-old grandmother.  I have been to church maybe ten times in as many years, and there has always been a specific reason for it, like a funeral, a baptism, or a wedding.  I’m not what one might refer to as “the churchgoing kind”.

When I was about sixteen, I had a firm belief that I had developed an allergy to churches.  This was based on a very strange trend that started at this age: every time I went to church – EVERY time – I would faint.  Whenever the congregation was called upon to kneel, for whatever reason the blood would just rush from my head and I would be out like a light.

There was a medical reason for this, of course, although I cannot remember now what that was.  I went through a somewhat inconvenient few months where I would faint at the drop of a hat, whether I was at home, in a store, or in math class.  Presumably I wasn’t allergic to all of those places as well.  What convinced me, though, was the absolute regularity of it.  When I went to church – any church – I could be completely relied on to faint and disrupt the proceedings.

I had a theory about this.  See, I was educated at a girls-only Catholic school run by nuns (some of the nuns were very nice, but some of them were MEAN!). Every week, all of us – including the non-Catholics like me – had to attend these religious education classes.  And on the first Friday of every month, the entire student body would troop over to the nearby Catholic church to attend “First Friday Mass”.

In addition to all of this, I was a Sunday school teacher at the Anglican church my family belonged to, AND I went through a phase of regularly attending the Evangelical church that my parents referred to as “happy clappers”.

That’s three – count ’em – THREE churches that I frequented on a regular basis.  That’s a whole lot of religion for a teenager.

My theory was that overexposure to religion had given me an allergy to churches.  Kind of like the time I got 67 beestings in one go and ended up with an allergy to bees.

Because I was allergic to churches and all, I stopped going.  I mean, it was hazardous to my health.  Everyone knows that if you expose yourself to something you’re allergic to, the allergy gets worse and worse.  I just assumed that my church allergy would work the same way.

I couldn’t get out of the First Friday Masses at school.  The nuns were very weird about that.  If a student had an accident and ended up with, say, a severed arm, the nuns would definitely take that student to the hospital.  Right after the student had attended Mass with the severed limb sitting there on the pew.

As an adult, my church attendance has been limited to events like weddings and funerals.  When the kids were born, we joined the local Anglican church so we could get them baptized (what they do or don’t do with religion as they get older will be up to them).  And now, with my own wedding coming up at the end of April, it is time for us to do the church thing again.

When we first started making the wedding plans, I was never really gung-ho on the idea of getting married in a church, particularly since we’ve been living in sin for the last ten years.  It didn’t really make sense to me: Gerard is a non-practicing Catholic, and I am a lapsed something-or-other.  We try to live our lives as good and decent human beings, and although I believe in some greater force, a Karma of the Universe type of thing, I don’t really believe in God in the traditional sense.  When bad things happen to people I care about, I pray for them, but I am not praying to a Biblical God.  I am praying to the forces of energy that shift the Universe around and affect the way things happen.

When I talked about not getting married in a church, my future mother-in-law almost cried.  She is a devout Catholic, and had been holding out hope that we would get married in a Catholic church.  I went along with it, because honestly, I don’t care where I get married. As long as I’m a Mrs by the end of my wedding day, I’ll get married in a bus shelter if it makes people happy.

The Catholic church did not turn out to be a feasible option, firstly because the Catholics are a bit picky about presiding over a marriage where one partner is not a Catholic, and secondly because we don’t like the priest at our local Catholic church.

So we went back to the Anglican church in our neighbourhood, to talk to the same minister who baptized my boys.  We had a lovely long chat with him this week, and he told us that he would be happy to preside over our wedding.  We would be happy with this as well: the minister is really a lovely person, and the church is a welcoming, neighbourly type of place.

We will be going there on Sunday, because we feel that if we’re going to have our marriage blessed in a church, we should at least take the time to show up, hear what the sermons are all about, and get to know some of the people.  We do not want to observe such an important day of our lives in a place where we are strangers.

I just hope I don’t faint.

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2 Responses to “A Case Of Faint Religion”

  1. runtobefit January 14, 2011 at 4:02 PM #

    It is always hard to find a good church. I know that for us it has been difficult and we are in desperate need of finding another church. Many of the good things that have happened in my life I attribute to faith and God. I can’t help but feel that there is a God and that He/She is always with us if we just allow ourselves to believe. Too many things have happened in my life that when I turned to God I always got through them. Therefore, I have learned that I can’t seek out God just when things are going bad. I always need to have Him beside me. He only puts before us what we can handle, even when it seems too much. I grew up Catholic, but I don’t think God resides in any specefic religion. The point is that we believe in Him no matter what. I think you will find you enjoy going to church. I know I have actually missed it.

    • runningforautism January 14, 2011 at 5:59 PM #

      It will be interesting to go to church again, for sure. And the more I think about it, the more I kind of like the idea of getting married in a church. I like the symbolism of it, and the idea of starting off my marriage with the support of a church community.

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