I saw Julia Sweeney and Ira Glass at the Paramount theater in Seattle a few weeks ago. It was a great show and if the two of them ever do their thing in your neck of the woods I highly recommend it.
I’ve never seen Julia’s stuff on God; I’ve heard her on This American Life, which I’ve been a rabid fan of since they debuted in Seattle, however her Christianity monolog in (most of) its entire glory was new to me. It totally blew me away, and has me thinking a LOT about life, the Universe, and everything.
I have a mixed relationship with organized religion, Christianity, and God. I go to a very old-school, traditional church – old school for me means open space surrounded by stone, wooden pews, pretty windows, singing songs that may be 500 years old, funny outfits, water sprinkling, sermons during which I tend to daydream about whatever my most recent obsession is, and occasionally incense. I would feel at home if I could wear armor at church.
When people hear I go to church, they usually do a triple take. I explain, to their usually un-asked but obviously nagging question, that I believe in Church, but I’m not sure I believe in God.
Which is true, however it’s quite simplistic. Old massive Christian churches affect me at a level and in ways that nothing else does – praying while I am on my motorcycle feels silly, praying before bedtime is just weird, but praying deeply and intensely at church feels completely and totally right. I really get into it, so much so that awhile back someone came up to me after the service and asked me, several times, “are you alright?”. Episcopalians aren’t much into expressive things, like emotions. I give money to my church, and I worry about it, like one might worry about a really great local restaurant that seems like it could go out of business.
Once when I was visitng the large cathedral in Bristol, I felt like I’d been there before. Like really really really felt it – I knew where stuff was, the stairs felt like they were mine.
I think that church provides a living theatre in which I can actively participate and where I feel strangely whole. Whether this is due to collective unconsciousness, past lives, learned behaviors, unfounded hope, an emotional crutch, church when I was young, a bug in my character, or a meme handed down to me over the past thousand years, it remains illogically but emotionally very true and real. Far more real than some of the more tangible things in my life.