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The teen years.

I’m preparing for Confirmation. Soon, shortly before my 26th birthday and 13 years after becoming a baptized member of the Church of Christ, I will be confirmed in the Episcopal Church.

Confirmation has traditionally been a rite of passage for teenagers, and during the confirmation service I will likely be the only confirmand older than fifteen. Something about that is wonderfully appropriate, since I have the sense of humor and taste of a seventh grade girl, and since I can’t quite grow a beard. It’s also appropriate because, though an adult, I am something of a child in the Episcopal Church.

Most who read this will know the story: about a year and a half ago I was asked to leave the Church of Christ I was attending. There was no real surprise there, given my complete inability to keep my trap shut, and given the fact that most Churches of Christ would rather install a stripper pole than acknowledge the possibility that one might be both gay and Christian. Since there was no other Church of Christ nearby, and since I was reeling a bit from the congregational bitch slap, I decided to sit church out for a while and have brunch instead (is there a Church of Mimosa?).

But somewhere between the mimosas, PBRs, and bloody marys, I found myself in an Episcopal Church. The quiet elegance of the liturgy, the simple poetry of the Book of Common Prayer, the otherwordly smell of the incense, and the graceful dignity of the sermon grabbed hold of me, not by the throat or by the balls, but by some other part of me. Some part I couldn’t quite identify. Some part that wants desperately to be filled by God.

So I returned the next week. And again, and again. And then I decided to become an Episcopalian.

But this meant starting from square one. Though I was a sort of outsider in the Church of Christ because of my Wildean proclivities, I was an insider by birth and by mastery of vocabulary. I know the Church of Christ in a way I cannot yet know the Episcopal Church. That insider status was lost in the jump from undenominational to Anglican, restorationist to catholic, congregational to apostolic, from fundamentalist to liberal. I had to relearn basic church vocabulary from the ground up. In short, I went from being an adult in the Church of Christ to being a child in the Episcopal Church.

So this past year has been an accelerated childhood, in which I have learned the terms sacrament, vestry, offertory, acolyte, via media, chancel, and crucifer, among others. I’ve learned when to kneel and when to stand, when to cross myself and when to genuflect, how to say the creed and when to bow during its recitation. The once foreign liturgy has become second nature. I feel at home. And most importantly, I’ve learned that most Anglican of lessons: common prayer and shared Eucharist can happen even in the face of doctrinal disagreement. Childhood is over, and soon, like all the other teenagers, I’ll be confirmed.

 

Comments

I wanted to use this post to close out the GR story and give an update, since I haven’t done much blogging over the past six months.

Thanks to the hermits for letting me crash the party. Hopefully, I won’t make you regret it too much.

Heh. It’s a good choice to begin with. We’re pretty good at maintaining a semblance of perpetual adolescence around here. :)

More than that, it’s also a good story.

Undoubtedly, someone who uses the term congregational bitch slap in casual, and not so casual, conversation is not worthy of the primativist CoC tradition.

Congratulations on both writing here and your confirmation. Obviously the latter is a much bigger deal than the former, but I hope that they both make a positive contribution to your days!

I didn’t know about the congregational bitch slap. That must have been awful, though expected. It brought to mind a bible class I sat through in my church when I was 14 where the teacher spoke worriedly and at length about what would happen when a homosexual asked to become a member, yet still insist on keeping up his sinful lifestyle. “Would the church be allowed to expel him? Could we be sued for that?”

3: oughtn’t that be, the congregational tradition is unworthy of one who can wield congregational bitch slap so well?

welcome, Scott. twelve years ago i made the same transition you’re making, so i confirm your choice. though i wasn’t aware of it at the time, my entree into the Episcopal Church was via what most consider the lowest parish in the diocese of New York. (i suppose a low church might be the easiest first step on the Episcopal ladder for a former CoC boy.) so i had much to learn like you, but we didn’t have incense, and there was rarely any bowing at that point in the creed. in more recent years, i’ve moved to another parish a bit higher on the ladder. the sense of wonder and excitement that i experienced in the beginning, perhaps similar to yours, has faded, but not the feeling that this is my church, where i belong. if i’ve missed a sunday, i often feel almost waves of relief to hear again the collect as the service begins: “Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid…”

JH—I should sue you for even bringing up such a question.

Richard—I go to a Anglo-Catholic church. Lots of smells and bells, and I love it.
——
As for the congregational bitch slap, I’m learning to make light of it. It sucked quite a bit at the time, perhaps most of all because there was absolutely no contact from the church after said backhand. Not a single phone call or a single note from a member of that church (with the exception of my two best friends). In that way, it was more like shunning than like a disfellowshipping. Not cool, man.

But, it helped to more quickly sever my ties with the C of C. Otherwise, my relationship with my church may have lingered on life support until the parole of Dr. Kevorkian.

8: my relationship with my church may have lingered on life support Heh. There’s a familiar feeling.

I’ve never been involved in a disfellowship (thank God), but I’ve been at the edge of them. As I remember, and tragically, they took place most often when teenage girls got pregnant. Another I witnessed was informal, over doctrinal minutiae. My father’s church went through one when I was a teenager and was staying with him in the summer, but I don’t remember the circumstances; I do remember the indignant righteousness emanating from dad. But it’s possible, I admit, I may be superimposing his current indignant righteousness onto the past. Anyway, what I mean in all this is that such expulsions are ugly, and unfortunately, no matter how deserved disfellowships might be, they can bring out ugliness in those doing the disfellowshippng. (are they ever deserved? are they ever necessary? I mean, in cases unlike S’s, if one comes to the point that one is to be booted, hasn’t one already taken himself out of the church?)

I’m not much of a weeper, but your description of finding a home is beautiful. Enough to make me weep, were I a weeper.

GKB just found the name for the 4th incarnation of KB-net, should it be reincarnated…

theweeper.net

i do want to commend scott on the great tact he showed… i totally woulda plastered the timberlake, with his sultry, i’m more shiznit than rod stewart glare, pic all over the first part of my post.
_______

Richard:

did you leave the CoC, or another fundy group?

The tact extends further than you think. I had a link for the words “stripper pole” but I decided that wouldn’t be very kind to those of you who may be at work right now.

J,

i was a cradle-CoC-er, CoC schools from kindergarten through college. i graduated from HU like some (perhaps all?) of you hermits. there’s CoC stuff (to put it euphemistically) hard-wired into me.

You didn’t grow up in NYC, then, R?

uuhh, that’s either soddom and/or gomorrah, G

Oops. Sorry. Let the record show that 15 should read:

You didn’t grow up in NYC Gomorrah, then, R?

May I say, this is an even more exciting development in my bloggyworld than the death and resurrection of kendallball.whatever. (Sorry Greg…close second…)

JTB,
The confirmation on one HS, or the return of HS/GR/SL to the bloggodrome?

Just curious…

JTB— The confirmation has been a long while coming, but it is time. Perhaps a shared Eucharist next time I’m in your neck of the woods?

G, what are the clues that i didn’t grow up in NYC???
thanks for choosing Gomorrah over that other place. given how things have turned out for me, better not to go near that one.

Yeah, I figured you had the other one covered already. :) Besides, Gomorrah’s more fun to write.

Anyway, it was just that the only K-12 CoC schools I know of are in AR, TN, and GA—probably there’s others, but my bet is they’re nowhere near NY?

the CoC primary and secondary education… this really is more a staple of southern post brown v board segregationism than NYC

Ahh yes, those ubiquitious “Christian” “academies” that suddenly sprang up post-segregation. It’s funny how mysteriously the Lord works.

i was jesting, but tone-of-voice doesn’t come through in online communication, does it?

yes, i grew up in that great center of western civilization just to the east of HU, memphis. i never connected the beginning of my school with brown v. board of education. i think it pre-dated that case by a few years. however, when i was in about 8th grade, busing came and our school suddenly had waiting lists…and a winning football team!

Sometimes it comes through, R, but only if we pay attention to the number of question marks you use! :)

I think the HA in S, AR is pre-Brown. All of my dad’s siblings went there (except one) from the early 50s into the 70s, though that’s probably a bit specious dating since the Brown decision went down in 1954.

I didn’t make the link between C of C schools and desegregation for a long time, but once I made the connection, it illuminated much. The school I attended was actually founded (in the Lone Star State, one of the other places there are a few K-12 C of C schools) only 3 years after Brown v Board.

So when is your confirm., S?

Nov 12—not too far away. Confirmation classes start soon, which should be a great deal of fun.

One day after G’s 30th b-day, which he seems to be looking forward to as something bordering on a religious experience in itself. Weird, but better than contemplating running into traffic, which was how I approached mine.

So what if I anticipate 30 to be rapturous?

this is precisely what i meant by my question

it’s not that i don’t think you can recognize indiscretion

it’s just you’re not so youthful anymore, despite what they are saying about 50 being the new 30… i would venture to say that your knees aren’t as well-oiled as they used to be

Harding Academy way predated desegregation. It started in the early fifties.

But it is true that it didn’t thrive until desegregation started. But now, its definitely not an “escape the black kids” kinda school. Its fairly diverse (for a private school) and its mostly church of christ kids.

the kansas u.s. district court heard the Brown’s case from June 25-26, 1951.

the supreme court first heard the case in december of 1952 finally making it’s decision in 1954…

memphis christian academy begain in 1952…

not, of course, that contemporaneity necessarily equates to causation…

Scott, I just wanted to say (belatedly, but no less sincerely) congratulations on joining the Hermits and your upcoming confirmation. I am a cradle Episcopalian, and thus I sometimes take for granted the many good things about the church when I’m miffed at them for one or another infraction. But I keep coming back—that liturgy gets to me every time, too. And I will now keep coming back even more gladly knowing that the church has welcomed those whom others have pushed away.

Ok, the court case happend in the fifties, but desegregation didn’t happen immediately. Some school systems in the south didn’t desegregate until the early 80s. Memphis tried its damnedest to keep from desegregating…. but then when it happened, all the sudden ECS and Briarcrest popped up…

Anger and fear are crude motivators in politics, but, grudgingly I must admit, they can inspire a people to act quickly.

Laura, thanks for the welcome, both to the site and to the Church. I’ve noticed that there aren’t many cradle Episcopalians attending my congregation. Apparently the Episcopal Church really is welcoming.