Out In the World Again

I’m out in the world now and escorted my wife and girls to church this morning. When we first started to attend, a couple of years ago, we met in the ‘old building’ where I could sit and admire the old woodwork. No doubt crafted by servants dedicated to working for God. Since I choose my church by its architecture, this was good for me. Apparently, it wasn’t good for the church. They were meeting thrice on Sundays and multiple times during the week. Out of the blue, it seemed, there was a push for building funds. Soon we had a modern barn-like  shed for a new building and offices. We now meet in an auditorium in seats that efficiently stack one atop the other under an open ceiling with the heating system painted flat black so as not to be distracting.

The meeting is like just about like that at any other modern church. Jesus is presented as your best pal who really, really loves you. I don’t blame the pastor for this. He sticks closely and academically to the Bible in his preaching. And the parishioners are quite wonderful: they took care of everything at my house and for my wife while I was in the hospital for three months. But the overall feeling is an emotional plea to invite Jesus in as your best buddy. Who better to watch Clemson football with?

In the interim since I had been there, while my body was healing up, the church hired a new worship leader. Our former leader was an older gentleman who tried hard but probably didn’t have an appeal to Gen-Xers. I laughed and thought of Annie Dillard when the new leader stepped out of the choir to grab his guitar by the neck. He strummed a few insipid chords and began his first of several new worship songs whose writer knows only a few words, none of them very descriptive.

Every  time a hear something like this, I think of my experience of hearing a Catholic choir sing in Latin. A hush came over the entire church and there was a palpable sense that God was greater than anyone present could understand. Though a confirmed agnostic, it was hard for me to resist. The idea of Jesus as your best pal drives me batty and I identify with the sensibility that God, if there is such a thing, is many times greater compared to mankind that we are to the lowliest ant.

In honor of the new worship leader, I repost this here that first I published elsewhere.

If you haven’t read Dillard, I recommend starting with Holy The Firm. It’s deep and sad and thoughtful on every level, as is all of her work.

Annie Dillard Poking Fun

On the heels of yesterday’s post about Annie Dillard’s new book, I invite you to click over to her official website for a treat of the purple-coat variety. When half of the internet adverts I see are for social media managers and SEO, it is absolutely refreshing to read someone who says “No Thank You”. And means it. And please respect her wishes that you avoid Wikipedia. “Unreliable,” she says.

For more fun, read this essay titled Church. It is classic Dillard but I point it out for this fantastic line:

“It all seems a pity at first, for I have overcome a fiercely anti-Catholic upbringing in order to attend Mass simply and solely to escape Protestant guitars.”


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