Monday, June 24, 2013

Madonna and Child and Me: Breastfeeding in Church

It was a lovely sanctuary, golden and glittering, and Sophia charmed the people sitting around us by bouncing up and down in the pew to get a view of the altar. She gabbled during the Creed and crowed during the Alleluia. At the Passing of the Peace, all the little old ladies smiled and told us she was sweet. We kept the hymnal out of reach, but the family in front of us wasn't as quick, and their little one removed #631 and tried to eat it before they could pry the book from her hands. When Mass ended, a middle-aged man came up from where he'd been sitting far behind us.

"Are you new here?" he asked. Ah! How familiar. At Memorial, this is the point where we would be asked if we had just moved to town, and did we have a church, and would we like to grab lunch somewhere, and just say the word if we need anything, anything at all.

"We're from out of town," my mother-in-law said. "We're visiting."

"I have to tell you I was shocked by what I saw today," the man said. "Just shocked. You know, there are women's rooms for that kind of thing." He breathed heavily, huffing and puffing with rage. After a moment of silent confusion, we all realized that he was talking about how, during the homily, when Sophia started to cry, I took out a giant wrap and fed her beneath it. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

I Can't Blame the Schools

In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, the Czech minister had to explain that Czechs and Chechens are not the same people.

Boy, whatta buncha maroons, I thought, and chalked it up to public education. But then I remembered a conversation I had with a Border Patrol agent who I may or may not be related to, and who may or may not have received the same education from the same person that I did. Here's a rough recreation of that conversation:

“Most of the people who cross the border are coming up from Mexico or from countries south of Mexico, but we get people from all over the world who cross here because it’s the least-secure border. Last month we had to process a Roma, and that was really hard because none of us speak Romanian.”

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Voyage of the SBC Galley

All the Baptists were bobbing along in rickety little rowboats, paddling toward Heaven. The folks in some of the rowboats looked around and said,

"We could get to Heaven more efficiently if we got together in a bigger, stronger boat."

So they built a galley ship and called it the Southern Baptist Convention. The leaders of the new group fitted out a first-class section where they held meetings and planned the course of their voyage. For a while, women and slaves sat in chains below and rowed, but then a Union ship overtook the SBC, fought a bloody battle with the crew, and set the slaves loose. The women kept rowing and the ship made good time, until it passed by the Isle of Secular Society during an election year and got caught in a swirling eddy. Round and round the SBC went in a great slow circle, and more and more of the women rowing the boat got fed up with sitting in bilge water and jumped ship.

Just when the crew of the SBC had gotten used to the eddy, the eddy got sick of them and spat them back into the open seas. So they looked out over the rails and watched the other boats, some big and some small, some sailing alone and some in fleets, some taking on water and some zipping ahead. "We'll make better time if we hoist our sails and catch the wind," the crew said, so they pulled out the rigging and untangled it. But they had tossed the Boy Scouts overboard, and no one who remained could tie a knot.

And the ship rowed slowly on.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Mute Button

The minister of music was waiting impatiently and he let me know it. He wondered how long it would take for God to send him his wife, his helpmate, the woman who would support him for the rest of his life. This is the kind of small talk young people engage in at church mixers. I was at a reception following a crummy lecture on Gnosticism and Dan Brown, a lecture preceded by fifteen minutes of slick, percussion-heavy praise and worship before the presenter came out, adjusted his casual button-down shirt, and opened with the line "Leonardo da Vinci was this guy who lived about a thousand years ago."