Monday, 17 April 2006

Baptism at Easter

A friend of mine was baptised yesterday, on Easter Sunday. It was a full body immersion in a pool under the stage at our local Baptist Church and I am glad I did not miss it.

My friend and I have sons who play together and that is how we met but other than that haven't had much time together lately. We had spoken a year or two before about Christianity and at that stage she wasn't Christian so I was curious to be there on her special day. I don't take these things lightly even though I am not a Christian as such, but I do admire any adult who makes a conscious decision to take on board a religion.

The words of the Baptism ceremony were interesting and the whole struck me as a device for any great psychological therapy that frees you from past pains or misdeeds and gives a psychological re-birth. A process that clears the past and gives you permission to move forward. Naturally, I can't wait until suitable time elapses and my friend and I chat again and I can find out how she feels and what impact the Baptism has had on her.

The Easter service continued and I felt a pang of wanting to join the kids as they filed out for activities elsewhere. It has been so long since I have been to such a Church service that I was concerned what us adults were going to be subject to but it was OK. Any of us not baptised were invited to consider it for ourselves and there was much talk about the family of the church. I'm afraid I can't help thinking of it as a club and it just depends which religious club manages to sign you up first.

This Service was all about Jesus which is not surprising considering it is Easter but that is what bothers me about many forms of Christianity, it is all about Jesus and the characters and less about the underlying message. I wonder if Jesus et al would have wanted to be idolised in this way and whether that is actually contrary to what he originally preached?

I spent most of the rest of Easter Sunday and night sleeping and reckon that I have slept for England. Or at least caught up on some sleep from the past week's travelling and meeting family. We managed to avoid all Easter egg purchases this year with not too much hassle from the kids. The kids get chocolate year round and the meaning of Easter is well and truly lost on the eggs. My daughter assured me she had mates who not only got eggs but presents too. Well, lucky them!

Original Comments:

Joe said...

Hi Doris...have emerged from jet lag hell...:-)

The Baptism thing is very powerful isn't it? And I'm sure that it symbolically contains all the themes you mention - very much a process of 'rebirth', as well as the religous/biblical meaning.

The community that the church offers is a very atractive thing, in our fragmented world. Personally, I went through a period of trying very very hard to be part of that world a few years ago after a sort 'epiphany'. I spent some months going to a Baptist church where I met some of the most enlightened, spiritual, thoughtful people I have ever met and bizarrely (and simultaneously), some of the most narrow minded and blinkered. I eventually left, pretty disenchanted...

I also did a course called 'Alpha' which is portrayed as a way to get to grips with some of the key issues of Christianity, which was ultimately ghastly - a bit like being drawn into a cult.

Though I'm not a Catholic, I learned the most from taking a course at Salisbury Cathedral with a man who had spent much of his life with Carmelite (I think) monks - a lay preacher of sorts. And reading work by the Jesuits.

On balance, for me...God yes. Religion no.

Monday, April 17, 2006 10:39:00 AM

doris said...

Welcome back Joe!

Interesting you mention the Carmelites.... the one Christian church I have ever felt a sense of something special is the Carmelite Church (Carmelite Nuns I believe) on Kensington Church Street in London. Every time I've walked in there I have felt a rush.

I never did the Alpha course but have been heavily persuaded by another "friend" in the past to do it but didn't.

In the 80s I was drawn into the Central London Church of Christ which was a most interesting experience. They tried so hard to convert me.... and I loved going for the singing!!!! But I kept arguing about this or that and even after they brought in the US heavies they still couldn't answer my questions and I still couldn't be persuaded. My position became untenable and I had to go.

As for the enlightened and the blinkered - I've met them too. That worries me so much that many are narrow-minded. It makes a mockery of religion, or reveals it for what it is.

Monday, April 17, 2006 1:31:00 PM

MattyD said...

I think if Jesus existed (which sadly he didn't as he's just the star of the world's #1 International best-selling novel, he'd be most disappointed with the way Easter is treated as some kind of big chocolate party.

Jesus Jumpers...please note, I'm not having a pop at you, I just don't believe the hype.

Monday, April 17, 2006 10:36:00 PM

Joe said...

Jesus jumpers?! Where can you buy them?!

Monday, April 17, 2006 10:52:00 PM

zandperl said...

Reminds me of something I've read about Judaism. According to Jewish tradition, if you're a Gentile (not Jewish), you only have to live a good life according to the Ten Commandments and you get into Heaven. If you're actually Jewish, either born so or converted, you have to follow hundreds of additional rules and if you break any you go to Hell.

Being the "Chosen People" is *NOT* a good thing. :-P

Tuesday, April 18, 2006 2:11:00 AM

MrsDoF said...

I'm one who goes to church for the social atmosphere of some pretty good people and the singing is the absolute best. The sermons and altar calls I just pick and choose. There's no pressure for Bible-thumping, but someone recently asked me to take a turn helping in the Nursery.

You might like the novel _The Monk Downstairs_ by Tim Farrington. The guy leaves the monastery, but has some great insights into religion. A Lutheran friend mentioned it, then I passed it on to a Catholic.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006 4:02:00 AM

ChelseaFCChick said...

Another great post Doris.

Personally I don't have a religion. My husband is a Catholic 'on paper' and went to Catholic schools (although he doesn't go to church). I often ask my husband about his religous beliefs and so I found this post very interesting and pretty thought provoking!

As for Easter, well, in our house it is more of a spring celebration and a family tradition. We love our chocolate eggs but thats not what its about, its very much a family time for us.

Belated Happy Easter!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006 6:09:00 PM

jane said...

I like that you're open-minded about your friend's baptism & went for the experience. Sadly, I think the church is not at all representative of the teachings of Jesus. He brought such a different message than the ones we now hear preached from the pulpit.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006 5:27:00 PM

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006 5:30:00 PM

Annie said...

I was baptised in the sea about three years ago. I was going to a Vineyard church (very 'modern') at the time. I was brought up Methodist and had been christened and to Sunday School until I was into my teens. Both my parents are very active Christians but go to different churches. At the moment I don't go to church, but that's more due to health reasons rather than lack of faith. I read my Bible and pray every day, but I consider my faith to be a private thing and not something I want to make a big issue of, well not online anyway.

Thursday, April 20, 2006 9:32:00 AM

Cheryl said...

I got dunked too. Does that make me a Rich Tea?
My C of E Vicar said I was baptised already, but respected my need to do it, and even sent me a card. Then later when he christened my two eldest kids at ages 8 and 9 he gave up on just signing the cross on their heads and splattered them good & proper, bless him.

Thursday, April 20, 2006 9:38:00 PM

Anji said...

"I wonder if Jesus et al would have wanted to be idolised in this way", good point . We didn't go overboard with the chocolate this year either, but I do miss the easter egg hunts

Friday, April 21, 2006 3:15:00 PM

Gerald Ford said...

I spent some months going to a Baptist church where I met some of the most enlightened, spiritual, thoughtful people I have ever met and bizarrely (and simultaneously), some of the most narrow minded and blinkered.

Sounds like the folks at my Buddhist Temple. ;p We're big (200+ people), and you get the full spectrum.

Back when I experimented with Catholicism, I rather enjoyed the symbolism found there. My friend is a Catholic priest (Dominican), and my wife and I stayed at his priory in California once. It was a great experience, and really spiritual besides.

Still, for my wife and I, we didn't find the answers we were looking for, so we ended up in Shin Buddhism. My wife was raised that way (she's Japanese), but for me it was discovering something new.

Either way, experimentation with Catholicism was quite nice and worth every minute. ;P

P.S. The Buddha's Birthday happened to fall a week before Easter this year. Kind of a funny coincidence I think.

Friday, April 21, 2006 4:51:00 PM

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