Once in a while I embrace being a grown up. Like, lately, when confronted with an infuriating situation, I try to wait a little before reacting. It certainly doesn’t come easy but I always find that I have better perspective later when I do decide to take action. Often the anger is still there but it’s low simmering, not explosive crazy.
Today has not been one of these mature days.
When Deaglan was born, even though I’d been away from formalized religion for over twenty years, I suddenly had a profound need to find a spiritual community, do charity work as part of that community and expose my son to what I’d grown up with – a knowledge of the Bible and Jesus’ work.
The small United congregation around the corner welcomed us with open arms. We immediately began indoctrination classes since Shaune had never been baptized, and met the sweetest pastor-in-training, a gay ex-Jesuit monk, his partner and a group of other newcomers. After the ten week course, Shaune and Deaglan were officially welcomed into the Church through a beautiful baptism ceremony. Sadly this was the same time our beloved ex-Jesuit pastor-in-training was finished his schooling, and moved to his own congregation in another city.
We settled into church life but discovered that it was very different from what we’d imagined. First of all we didn’t like the regular pastor. She was odd, overly flowery and symbolic when delivering her sermons – we couldn’t relate. And there was no charity work, only church fundraisers. All the money went back to the Church. Also, most of the parishioners were a few generations older than us, there were no young families.
We stopped going to church.
But the Church kept sending us pleas for donations. And they called religiously (I meant that) to ask us for our time in the nursery or donations for the charity garage and bake sale. This went on for two years.
When Naveen was born I panicked. I wanted him to be baptized but didn’t want to start going back to Sunday services. We’d decided that we could continue giving to good charities without the backing of a Church; we could be a part of a community that wasn’t affiliated with formalized religion.
But because the Church continued to call us for money and for our time, I chose to make contact. I asked the receptionist to have the pastor call me, told her that I wanted Naveen to get baptized in their upcoming Father’s Day service. She hesitated. I asked her if there was a rule that we had to attend services in order for our baby to be baptized but she dodged my question and promised to pass the message.
It's been six months. The pastor never called.
And yet today in the mail (we retrieve our mail once a week), I received another donation envelope. Immediately I sent the Church an email. I asked them about their double standard – why we have to attend services to reap the benefits of membership when they have no problem treating us like members when they want our money.
I reacted in anger and it kind of felt great. I’ll let you know if I hear back.