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Sun Jun 30, 2013, 08:19 PM

As many if not most of you already know,

I'm in a strange situation here where I retired. There's a tiny Catholic mission about 6 blocks from my house where I'm unable to attend for various reasons which I hope won't be permanent. So a couple years after my last visit there, I started occasionally showing up at the UMC church less than a block away. The parsonage is just across the alley from my place.

Today they got a new pastor, a fairly youngish single guy who I think will prove interesting and forward minded. Something odd happened during Sunday School. One lady asked a question about the lesson and the others suggested buttonholing the new pastor who happened by the open door so he could give his opinion. He's a friendly sort, so it wasn't uncomfortable, only surprising and strange when he pointed at me (we've never met) and said, "She knows the answer." I made the zip-my-lip gesture, so he just shrugged his shoulders and answered the lady's question.

I did know the answer. What I don't know is how/why he knew I knew. As I said, we've never met, and he only arrived a few days ago. I've tried to make it a policy not to offer more than one opinion per week at church and my limit had already been reached earlier.

But I'd appreciate everyone's prayers that the situation will adjust to allow a comfortable return to my own church someday soon. I miss the Catholic liturgy so much, even though this is a low-church congregation. Meanwhile, I am indeed grateful for the new UMC pastor, because he can make the wait a little more bearable. Interesting young man, also a lover of dogs and solitude. I have no ulterior designs on him, never fear; besides the fact that I vowed never to marry outside the Catholic church, he's also far too young for me and seems gay. But I do look forward to an interesting and enlightening possible friendship.

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Arrow 8 replies Author Time Post
Reply As many if not most of you already know, (Original post)
IrishAyes Jun 2013 OP
hunter Jun 2013 #1
No Vested Interest Jun 2013 #3
IrishAyes Jul 2013 #4
No Vested Interest Jun 2013 #2
IrishAyes Jul 2013 #5
rug Jul 2013 #6
hedgehog Jul 2013 #7
IrishAyes Jul 2013 #8

Response to IrishAyes (Original post)

Sun Jun 30, 2013, 09:44 PM

1. My parents used to live in a place where Mass was excruciating.

The sort of place where Mel Gibson or Paul Ryan would be comfortable.

Later, for a few years, my wife and I lived in a place where the priests were dumber than rocks. Gentle people yes, not toxic in any way, and easily celibate because they were probably asexual. But not the sort of people who could deal with complex problems. Fortunately they had good staff, some very sharp women who would have been excellent clergy. (Yes, I'm a heretic...)

I'm pretty fortunate, I can live in most any religious environment. My mom was planning to be a nun before she met a lecherous priest. Then she joined the Jehovah's Witnesses but they kicked her out because she was outspoken about politics and what God was telling her. So we ended up as Quakers because everyone would nod their heads respectfully and move on once my mom had her say. Later I met an Orthodox women who kept me around to prove to herself and her family she wasn't a lesbian. She was. Then things got complicated, a nightmare David Lynch version of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" that ended with me jumping out of her moving car and no wedding.

After my wounds had healed I met my wife. Our family is Catholic. But I don't think our adult kids ever bother to attend Mass if older relatives are not around. I won't nag them about it, they will find their own truth, and I confess lately I'm not so good about attendance either.






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Response to hunter (Reply #1)

Sun Jun 30, 2013, 10:23 PM

3. If the truth be known, most of us with adult kids,

especially those unmarried and/or without kids of their own, know that Mass attendance is infrequent among them.

Of my four, only the Notre Dame grad is a regular attendee. The others range from one who is completely non-religious, one who is lazy about going but considers herself a Catholic, and one who will join us when we're on vacation together, but no interest otherwise.
All attended Catholic grade and high school; only the first one I mentioned attended a Catholic college.

There's no point at this stage in trying to educate them further in this regard. They're really middle-aged now and should know their own minds as much as they ever will.

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Response to hunter (Reply #1)

Mon Jul 1, 2013, 12:03 AM

4. Fascinating story you have, worthy of a movie!

You mean I'm not the world's only heretic??

Actually, I'd hoped to be able to retire in easy walking distance of a Catholic church that held daily Mass so I could go every morning. It never once occurred to me that I'd wind up in a xenophobic morass like this. I didn't even know they existed to such a degree. I'd been harassed by protestants for being Catholic, but was always accepted as such in my own church whether they liked it or not.

I think I've figured out why the new UMC pastor caught on to me so quickly this morning, though. My poker face might not be quite as inscrutable as I used to think, or maybe I resemble someone he's used to reading. Come to think of it, I don't believe I'd want to face this man in a poker game. He might clean my clock.



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Response to IrishAyes (Original post)

Sun Jun 30, 2013, 10:08 PM

2. I will keep you on my (mental) prayer list for a swift resolution to your quandary

I can understand that that the new minister had advance knowledge of your presence among the congregation. He would have been filled in by others, perhaps even those who interviewed and chose him as the new pastor.

Perhaps, as time goes by, you could arrange a get-together (lunch?) between him and the visiting priest from the Catholic mission. Now that would be a meeting to speculate on.

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Response to No Vested Interest (Reply #2)

Mon Jul 1, 2013, 12:26 AM

5. I'm sure it would be a meeting of equals

Though I've never met the current priest. He's from Asia, where there are many Catholic clergy who are also practicing Bhuddists. Since I have strong Buddhist leanings myself, I'd be cool with that. The previous one was certainly not, and I couldn't open my mouth around him w/o an argument. He especially hated Jesuits and Dorothy Day, some of my biggest heroes including the Dali Lama. But even the first priest was far from the only problem, and the person who vowed she'd see me in jail, for instance, then proceeded to lie about missing articles from an area where she claimed to have seen me 'hanging around', well - she and the rest of the Witch Patrol are still there.

But it is what it is, and one way or another I'll have to manage. With God's help and the encouragement of our online group, I'm sure I will. After all, it's not as if I were St. Paul chained in a dungeon. This town's a little better than that.

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Response to IrishAyes (Original post)

Mon Jul 1, 2013, 03:47 PM

6. I hope you resolve your situation.

 

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Response to IrishAyes (Original post)

Fri Jul 5, 2013, 10:21 AM

7. My take on this is that the people are the Church -

which is how I've ended up at the local Episcopal Church!

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Response to hedgehog (Reply #7)

Fri Jul 5, 2013, 01:31 PM

8. Yes, the people ARE the church

Which reminds me (uh oh!) of another little story I don't recall having told here before. There was a certain radically liberal retired Episcopal priest whose evening classes I favored, partly because he had a very Catholic bent. Anyway, the guy in charge of that congregation was the exact opposite, and you talk about sparks flying! So when I moved to the area, they had a small but gorgeous 150-yr-old building in town, completely paid for and full for all 3 services of a Sunday morning. First service was spoken word only, no singing; second service was fairly traditional but included music; and third service was almost charismatic. Something for everyone. Not to mention those fascinating theology classes by one of the nation's foremost civil rights activists.

Anyway, somebody croaked and left the church a considerable amount of property with highway frontage and a battle royal followed about what to do with it. Eventually the man in charge (I could hardly even think of him as a priest) won out, the old church site was sold, and the congregation went into massive debt to build a hideous modern castle on the new property. For the several years I lived around there, this extremely wealthy congregation dispersed no more than $3K annually to the community, which positively enfuriated the good priest. The bad guy even kept trying to have the good one (Fr. Cruse, btw) defrocked or whatever they do.

One night before class I happened to be trailing Fr. Cruse down the hall when the bad guy intercepted him and snarled, "What kind of heresy are you going to teach the flock tonight, Bill?" Fr. Cruse fired back, "Probably something about the PEOPLE being the church. Come join us and you might learn something." Wouldn't have surprised me a bit to see those two come to blows, because the bad one was hateful as they come, and Fr. Cruse had a downright Irish temper with a boxing championship to back it up. Which is probably the main reason they never did get down to fists, because the bad guy was a craven coward in service to mammon. I could easily see Fr. Cruse taking on all the forces of darkness at once, and I was very glad he was on our side. Not a man to be trifled with.

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