Communion - Sally's Journal
Hmm. I've been subconciously putting off trying to write this, as I'm always far more interested in finding out what other people believe than pinning my own very uncertain heart on my sleeve to be shot at. But Something Must Be Done (and the passing of time means that keeping the status quo is just a sly way of making a decision without being able to be blamed for it) And I'm the kind of person who works out what they believe by talking to people until the locus of things I disagree with suddenly makes it clearer, so LJ is a goodly medium. And I can sit here listening to madrigals, which can never be a bad way to spend an hour, right?
Why do I not recieve communion? Well, on a practical level, this seems straight forward. My family went to the Salvation Army until I was about 11, and so when little catholic children were having First Communion I was making my junior soldiers promise
. So not being in a church that recieved communion, I didn't start recieving communion "at the same time as everyone else". "Everyone else is doing it" is a lame reason to get confirmed, but "I want to do it and look, everyone else is" is much easier than "I want to do it and have to go out of my way to get it arranged and argue with much of my family and community about the point of it all". By the time you replace "I want to do it" with "I don't know if I want to do it or not" the activation energy in the latter situation becomes phenominal. Hence why I'm here.
Actually, that's not quite the whole story. When I was about 16 I went through my own couple of years of being a raving evangelical. Inflexible christianity breaks, as it always does, in my case when set against inflexible love, and I entered my on-going period of not stating what I believe at all but hoping there's a God in the middle of it somewhere. But while I was going to New Life I was happy to break bread and drink thimbles with them. "Happy" isn't quite the word... Dad is Roman Catholic, so some Sundays I would be in the Catholic church, and firmly a non-communicant to be patted on the head, and when I was at New Life I always felt a strange gleeful guilt that I was doing something that I "wasn't allowed" to do, that people would disapprove of. That we were the Real Christians, reclaiming our birthright that the high church would keep up shut out of in mystery if it could. (I never claimed to have a particularly consistent or well thought out theology at 16 ;-) ) But only in New Life, I never dared to impose on the strange yeastless world of the high church, and then I left New Life and left taking communion behind with all the other baggage of Christianity.
I don't know what my parents think about stuff. Recieving communion *must* be important to Dad. He went through a huge amount of faff, including a marriage annulment and a second wedding, to be able to recieve honestly in his church again. And he spends large chunks of his time taking communion to the sick and housebound. And even if we're on a carribean island, Sunday morning will be spent trying to find something approximating to a catholic church. But he doesn't talk about it. If I try to ask, he laughs things off and acts glib until I'm too embarressed and insecure and end up talking about something else. Mum, on the other hand, has been going to church with Dad for years now, and I have vague memories of her going to confirmation classes once, but has never got confirmed. I don't know what she thinks either. I'd guess it was that it's just a ritual, and nothing to do with the important things of Christianity, like how you love and how you live your life, but it's not a harmful ritual and if other people want to do it that's OK. I don't want her to think that I'm being brainwashed, that M is somehow turning me away from the person I was into someone she doesn't know any more, but a) that's daft and b) I was always going to change as I grew up. And she *says* she doesn't mind what I do, but would like to know.
And then there's M. And this is what's bringing things to a head. M. is, as anyone who's met him for more than five minutes has probably gathered, a raving high-church anglocatholic. You'd probably be better asking him what he believes than me, but the eucharist is a very important part of it. And I think he'd like me to be more reconciled to christianity, although he's more than happy to take me as I am, and he thinks that the act of recieving communion might actually be a helpful step in the process of
reconciling me to God, rather than something I should be aiming for once I've worked everything out on my own. And, sooner than I like to acknowledge, is The Wedding, and if M was marrying M it would be a nuptual mass. Now of course, there is nothing stopping us having a nuptual mass and M recieving and me getting patted on the head as is my want, except this is my wedding. I don't want that horrible sense of being excluded, the line between the body of christ, the chosen ones, and those of us who arn't called to his table flaunted in front of God and my family. I want a wedding service that celebrates our similarities, without emphasising our differences (I'm under no illusions here, we are different people, and being able to be different and still live in love is far more worth celebrating than being clones, or people who bury their own opinions for the sake of their other half). But, (hear my inner 5 year old cry) I don't want to be left out of my own wedding! And M seems to agree (or at least, has reasons of his own that lead him to the same conclusion) that if I'm not confirmed, he doesn't want mass. But of course, what he actually wants is mass, and a devout christian wife... :-/ (Don't get me wrong, he's not being pushy, or demanding, or pressurising, or anything. In fact, he's been too good at not nagging me and leaving me to work things out in my own time...)
Notice how I've managed to wibble for pages about what other people want / think / do. Notice how I still haven't touched on the actual issue, of what I want to do. Well, I don't know.
Why should you want to receive communion? Because you are a follower of Christ. A Christian. And you wish to do as he commanded.
Now, the debate about who should and shouldn't be allowed to think of themselves as Christian has been around on LJ at the moment, and I feel all the wounds. Somewhat harder, my mind is shaped by mathematical and evangelical thought, precise definitions, and a fear of hypocrisy, lying, and pick and mix religion. Deep in my heart, I am one of the ones who points the finger and says "You do not believe in Jesus being the Only True Way to God, so you are Not a Real Christian". And I point it at myself.
I don't like fuzzy liberal christianity. No, that's not true, I love it, and it seems to be full of intelligent and caring people. But I can't *do* it. It feels like dodging the issue, using rhetoric and convoluted arguments to allow oneself to do the things one wants, be it homosexuality, warm-fuzzyness about all religions being equivalent, re-marriage, or whatever one needs to survive ones lusts and the demands of the modern world.
And I don't like God. Again and again in the bible I get fundamentally annoyed at things. The idea that whoever is not with Jesus was against him. The parable of the buried talent - "hey, look after this for me" "OK"... "Here's your talent back" "Evil man! Why did you not go out and take risks to make it even bigger? For to everyone who has will be given, and he will have abundance, but from him who has not, even that which he has will be taken away" - annoys me, as does the contradictory idea that "he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty". I'd quite like a good god, if I was designing one, to give to *everyone* and not feel inclined to starve those who have not *or* those who are rich. The whole hardening Pharoh's heart thing so he could look even more impressive and smite even more of those nasty egyptians makes me feel sick. The parable of the wedding guests - "you ignored my wedding invitation! I'm going to kill you all now!" - is a little psycho (although I assume I will feel more sympathetic towards it when people don't RSVP to us ;-) ). The list goes on an on. And don't get me started on the fig tree. It wasn't the season for figs, Jesus! Get a grip!
And I don't know if I believe in Jesus. I try to explain this, and fail. I believe in a God of love and forgiveness. I believe that God would send his son to die for us if he had to. I believe (modulo the above rant) that the bible is a book with a lot of truth and wise teachings in it. I believe that studying and attempting to follow at least some (gah, how I hate pick and mix christians, and now I am one!) of Jesus's teaching is a good thing to do. But I don't know if some guy 2000 years ago died and came back to life for me. It doesn't feel important. It is an important story, and a way towards God. But is it true? Does it matter? I have an analogy to this point of view that I'm working on. Imagine God's existance, love and forgiveness is a big fundamental truth, like Gravity. And people say we first saw gravity through an apple, falling on Newton's head. That act is like Jesus's life, death and resurrection first showing us God's forgiveness. But it doesn't matter if an apple *actually* fell on Newton's head, or if it's just a cute story that helps people understand gravity. Gravity is no more or less true whether an apple fell on Newton's head, or if the whole thing was just something he made up when writing a letter to his wife to illustrate the point. So to me, the Christian church misses the point. They stand there every week reciting "I believe that an apple fell on Newton's head" when what they should be doing is reciting "I believe that every object in the universe exerts a force called gravity on every other object in the universe". Maybe this is just because I'm a mathmo and like generalisations and hate historical specifics, but the other way works better for normal people. And maybe whether or not things actually happened is important, and just because I believe you can work life out from the hypothetical you actually can't. For we are creatures of flesh and blood and biology, affected by the Real World...
[And I'm worried that if it is true, it might be better to be on the outside. That it's actually some huge double bluff by God, and if you go along with it all you get trapped in Heaven, with nothing to do but sing his praises for all eternity. Do any of you know the worship song "I could sing of your love forever"? Well, I find I have an upper limit of about 5 minutes before I get bored. It would be quite galling to find myself in some passion free, lust free "paradise" while all my clear headed atheist friends were off building a rational afterlife and having fun somewhere else. But then I'm promising myself that I will try to be with Emp for as long as I can help him, and he is heartset on going off after heaven. So maybe if it isn't my best course of action I should go anyway, because I've promised to. Or maybe I can use "till death us do part" as a get out clause...]
Gah, it's getting late, and all I've given is a load of history and a huge list of reasons why I don't receive communion. Why is some part of my brain even considering the idea? Beyond wedding stress, that is. Because... well, I do believe in God, and I have found myself feeling close to God in christian churches. And I feel I should be making more time for God in my life, and I feel that going to church and making a concious decision not to receive and excluding myself from the central part of the faith is not good. I think if I'm sufficiently at odds with the Christian faith not to want to walk forwards along the path, then I should bite the bullet and stop going to church. Because either I want to take part in worshipping and celebrating God in his Christian aspect, or I don't. When I was talking to Father Ian, he talked that yes, there were many paths up the mountain, and it might not be that one is better or worse than the others, but to make progress up the mountain you have to walk along one. And God does seem to have lead me to Christian communities throughout my life, (yes, I know, I'm in the UK, a christian country, and I do have a tendancy to seek out christians, so this isn't a great Miracle or Act Of God, it's just a thing to be expected, really)
So I think... tentitively... that if I think receiving communion will take me closer to God, then I should do it. But I feel a cheat, a "Christian" who doesn't believe in Jesus, and I worry I should leave strange cannabilistic rituals for those that are worthier than me.
Maybe I'm just writing this so I can get flamed by people saying "Don't do it unless you can say 100% that you believe in Jesus Christ and the story as told in the Gospels, and wish to make him your sole Lord and Saviour". Because then I just have to apologise to M and say it isn't going to happen, because I can't do that.
And if I do want to do this, what should I do? I could play by the book, and go to confirmation classes, and get confirmed and then receive, but I think getting confirmed would require a public declaration of a whole host of things that I can't honestly believe, so I don't really want that to happen. I could open the can of worms of pre-confirmation communion, with a vague air of "I will get confirmed when I'm more secure in my faith, but for now I just want to be able to draw near to God and be part of the body of the church". Or I could try and play the "I used to receive in my church, so I just want to know the mechanics of receiving in LSM because this isn't anything new" card.
Sigh. I'll be very surprised if anyone except me reads all this...
I've read it all ... I can't pretend to understand it, or even have useful advice beyond talking to people and praying/asking them to pray if you feel comfortable doing that. But I'll be thinking of you.
|Date:||November 1st, 2005 10:57 am (UTC)|| |
I read all of it, but as usual with such things I am not qualified in anyway to comment. :(
|Date:||November 1st, 2005 11:26 am (UTC)|| |
Well, I'm sure you're qualified to say what my position looks like from the view of a normal person :-)
|Date:||November 1st, 2005 11:07 am (UTC)|| |
I'll be very surprised if anyone except me reads all this...
I read it! No, I'm not addicted!
I have vague thoughts. I take communion if I feel like it. No one's ever asked if I'm "allowed" to. I've never been confirmed, but if I go and stick my hands out at the altar rail, I get bread put in them.
I'll probably be shot by the raving somethings for that :)
I've got a good deal of Quaker background. Quakers don't take communion, supposedly (so I was taught) because they try to make every meal a sacrament ("do this as often as you drink it"?). Someone in my childhood muttered "every meal a sacrifice, more like". There's a tendency to lose something that way, and forget to do it. I guess it's quite a nice idea - especially if you don't live alone - to begin a meal with breaking bread and sharing wine in remembrance of Christ...?
Um, yeah. Moo.
|Date:||November 1st, 2005 11:13 am (UTC)|| |
I think this is a set of things you can talk about tommorow. As regards the penultimate paragraph, be honest about what you're thinking, and see where things go?
|Date:||November 1st, 2005 11:28 am (UTC)|| |
As far as I know, having been told (although not actively having read it) there is a fair amount of evidence out there that this guy Jesus did exist. Whether or not he was God's Son is up to you, unsurprisingly, but I'm fairly sure they've found evidence that points to Jesus existing, to the things we read about in the Bible actually happening. I'm not saying they explain them, just that they say these things did happen to some random bloke who could therefore be Jesus.
Different people place a different importance on communion. I sometimes go up for communion, and other times, not, depending on how close I feel to God. However, to me, the important line is "Do this in remembrance of me".
I take communion to remind myself of Jesus, love personified, who all too often gets forgotten in my daily life.
However, I know other people for whom communion is much less important. Christian Quakers, to give the obvious example. I thought this page
was quite good at explaining that/producing new ideas.
OTOH, if you feel you're being pushed in the direction of communion, then, well, as Father Ian, said, everyone has to choose a path, whichever path it may be.
|Date:||November 1st, 2005 11:37 am (UTC)|| |
I think part of the problem is that different people/organisations have different ideas about what communion is/means. I can think of at least three different (and non-exclusive) interpretations.
- It's a symbol of belonging to the Christian Church; and hence to take it is to declare an allegiance to the Church, and a broad (though not necessarily total) acceptance of its tenets.
- It's a symbol of accepting Christ as your Lord and Saviour (although what that means is subject to its own multiple interpretations) independent of the Church.
- It's Christ's body, and taking it has an effect at a mystical/spiritual level not accessible to the intellect.
Bear in mind also the possibility of choosing to receive at your wedding, without committing yourself to doing so every Sunday the rest of the time. I think your best course of action is just to pray about it & discuss it with appropriate people - the priest officiating at your wedding, perhaps, as well as M and your friends. If the priest is happy with your receiving without being confirmed, then I don't think you need to have any qualms on that score: though obviously you still have to decide what it means to you, and if it implies a greater commitment to Christianity than you're comfortable with.
|Date:||November 1st, 2005 11:39 am (UTC)|| |
This *was* me discussing it with my friends! ;-)
and I worry I should leave strange cannabilistic rituals for those that are worthier than me.
Your love compels me to come in,
my hands were unclean
My heart was unprepared
I was not fit to gather up the crumbs from ynder your table
If I had my MWB to hand I'd quote the passage which begins (IIRC) [i]Come not because[/i] but I don't, but maybe a friendly curig
* could oblige this evening (seeing as I have a disconnect between location of MWB and location of internet!
*or a senji
but I'm less sure that they have an MWB and if they do its location is probably `bottom of a box somewhere'!That act is like Jesus's life, death and resurrection first showing us God's forgiveness.
I would say that the Incarnation, Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension are more than an apple which shows us gravity, but that they effect what they show. Putting words on this idea is difficult and all the models of the atonement are flawed, but it is more than showing. One of the important things about the Incarnation is its earthyness, the material is taken up into God not rejected as unnecessary.
No-one is worthy, but God calls us in anyway.Maybe I'm just writing this so I can get flamed by people saying "Don't do it unless you can say 100% that you believe in Jesus Christ and the story as told in the Gospels, and wish to make him your sole Lord and Saviour".
If we were to say that, I think our Lord would call us Pharisees and hypocrites. We respond to his love, rather than having to sort out all the details first.
On the Jesus being the only way to God, well, I have what some would regard as a fudge on this one. I can't reject it; our Lord himself said `I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No-one comes to the Father except by me'. And if there is another way to God except through the IPDRaAoOLJC
then he didn't have to die and God is cruel. As I said, I believe that the IPDRaAoOLJC effected something and thus that is how we are forgiven. However, I think people can be following Jesus without realising it and that at times what leads them to reject the Church is what led Jesus to lay into the Pharisees. And then there's the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats.
The sermon I heard which put the emphasis on Father, and that it is only through Jesus that we experience God as Father did not convince me.
Speaking as a fairly wooly atheist who likes religions in general and feels weird stuff happen in stone circles... (caveat lector)
I think the key word is respect here. You seem to me to have a reasonably clear idea of what you believe. Going from there, you have to make choices that will still let you respect yourself. You either have to change your mind on the subject of God, declare things that you don't honestly believe, or just not take communion. (Or do the unconfirmed biscuit thing you mentioned.) Start with which of those you'd feel happiest just in yourself with.
Then I think there's respect for Matthew, and his respect for you. Would it be disrespectful to him or to his faith to do something that in the eyes of the church is a bit dodgy? Would he respect you less or more if you honestly changed your mind, honestly said you couldn't do it, or did the slightly dishonest but loving and well-meaning compromise?
Next there's respect for the church and all that. To what extent do you think it would be disrespectful or wrong to receive having been economical with the actualité at your confirmation? I mean, I know some people who don't sing at church services because they don't believe the words, but I do sing because I like the words and the tune and the sense of community. On the other hand, I don't take communion because it doesn't mean anything to me and I don't get anything out of it.
Does that make any sense?
|Date:||November 1st, 2005 01:49 pm (UTC)|| |
You seem to me to have a reasonably clear idea of what you believe
Ha Ha Ha *rolls on floor laughing cynically* ;-)
there is nothing stopping us having a nuptial mass and M recieving and me getting patted on the head as is my wont
I did attend a wedding not very long ago where exactly this happened. Well, I mean the groom (who wasn't M) received and the bride (who wasn't you) got patted.
Why should you want to receive communion? Because you are a follower of Christ. A Christian. And you wish to do as he commanded.
I think you've gone wrong here. It is true that Christ commanded us to take communion, but that isn't why you would want to do it. I want to receive communion because it is a mystical union with God, food to stengthen me for life and a foretaste of the heavenly banquet.
I don't like fuzzy liberal christianity.
Neither do I. It is so broad-minded that it's brains have dribbled out of its ears and it no longer has any content. That doesn't mean you have to be raving evo of the sort who is obsessed with determining who is and who is not "Christian". It's only a label, after all. I don't think "Am I a Christian?" is the right sort of question to ask. After all, it's not one of the questions included in the Confirmation service. So perhaps you should look at those questions instead.
And I don't like God.
We're reading a book at the moment called Good Goats which seems apposite. It's all about how many people have been brought up to have a wrong image of God as an arbitary punisher. It's by Matthew, Dennis and Sheila Linn.
Still, I do rather agree with you about the uncomfortable passages in the gospels. On Sunday evening we had Luke 6:17-31, including: "Woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep. Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets." It's a particularly Lukan sort of approach, not included in the equivalent passage in Matthew (Matt 5:1-12), which is today's gospel. As you say, it would be nice to think that a God of love would be kind to everyone, rather than taking the approach that everyone has to have a certain amount of good stuff and a certain amount of bad stuff. Compare also the story of the rich man and Lazarus, Luke 16:19-31. Surely the correct approach is to strive for everyone to be full, not merely to reverse the injustice? But maybe I only think that because I am rich, full and laughing now, and I don't particularly enjoy the prospect of future woe.
The Linns would say that Jesus was using powerful language to shake the rich out of their complacency and to remind them to think of those less fortunate by suggesting that if things were different the boot might be on the other foot, and that he didn't literally mean that God would send the rich away empty, but I'm not wholly convinced by their argument. That seems to be reading something into the gospel passages which isn't there. Bah, perhaps I've been too influenced by the sola scriptura brigade.
It is an important story, and a way towards God. But is it true? Does it matter?
I think, if we accept the first sentence, then the answer to the second question is clearly, no, it doesn't matter. I happen to think it is historically true, but I really don't think it is important. The story of Adam and Eve, for example, I don't think is historically true, but I still think it's true as a story of human nature, and that seems to me to be much the more important sense.
For we are creatures of flesh and blood and biology, affected by the Real World...
...and the Real Presence.
I find it very sweet that you're thinking of going to heaven in order to be faithful to your husband!
I strongly disapprove of communion before confirmation, especially among adults. I doubt, in any case, that Fr Andrew would give it to you.
I strongly disapprove of communion before confirmation, especially among adults.
Why? I used to disapprove, but now, I have a lot of sympathy for the Baptism is the full rite of initiation and so if you're baptised you should receive line. I think the problem is that Confirmation has got confused in the West.
I don't know why, but I did read it all.
And I don't like God.
Do you think that god *is* like that, or isn't, or aren't you sure?
Part 1: Can you receive communion anywhere?
And I don't know if I believe in Jesus.
It sounds to me like you would not fit in with most (any?) denominations that would call themselves christian, but you might or might not fit the definition of christian, depending whether the god you believe in is the 'christian' god or not. And from there, where you go is mainly a matter for your own conscience.
Specifically, I think you should decide for yourself whether/when you can receive communion.
I have found myself feeling close to God in christian churches
So it's not completely ruled out. You feel there's a God there, to whom christianity is a way of reaching, and communion may help you down that path.
Accepting communion may or may not help you come closer to him. Ask yourself: should you try? cf. jumping from the lion's mouth, etc.
Should you take communion regularly? Decide if it feels right. Pay attention to all ramifications, eg. don't imply you believe if you don't. Which brings us to part 2.
Part 2: Can you receive communion at LSM?
Is there a statement of their beliefs about communion? I'm afraid I don't know.
I know some churches reserve communion for their members except in extenuating circumstances.
I know other churches give communion to anyone who is christian and thinks it appropriate for themselves.
Which is LSM? Do you need to be confirmed to receieve communion?
I think you should definitely not be confirmed (or do anything else) if it requires asserting beliefs you don't have (even though this is fairly normal for some people). You shouldn't mislead your LSM friends -- but you won't, whatever you do, because they know you, so will help you do whatever you think is right, especially if it might/will bring you closer to god.
PS. "I don't like God", "I don't know if I believe in Jesus" -- I would be interested if you wanted to talk any more about what you believe to try to understand it.
|Date:||November 1st, 2005 12:17 pm (UTC)|| |
Well, I did read this, but seeing as my own spiritual beliefs leave me firmly against the church and communion (as a path for me; others of course are free to find their own path) I really don't think I can help.
I can sympathize, though; I had similar wibbles before my wedding to Chris. We tried to compromise, and we spoke to the reverend (a man I deeply respect and admire), but the whole thing did end up rather more Christian than I (as a non-Christian) was really comfortable with. I didn't exactly feel excluded, but I did feel more like an observer in parts. In the end I just had to resign myself to this; I was marrying a Christian in a Christian church in a ceremony performed by a Christian minister, a more non-denominational wedding just wasn't an option. I was slightly uncomfortable with it all because I do believe in God, and while I'll attend church with Chris sometimes I'm very, very careful about what activities I take part in and what I abstain from. I don't want to pay lip-service to something I don't believe, and I don't want to disrespect others' beliefs even if I don't share them. It makes for an odd line to walk. The fact that absolutely nobody there minds what I do or don't do doesn't make it any less important to me. So I did feel a bit excluded from parts of my own wedding ceremony, and I didn't much care for that.
All that said, to be completely honest I don't remember much of the day at all. It's blurred and blanked in my head. There was too much happening and my brain failed to process it all.
The one piece of advice I can give is to remember that your marriage is the most important thing. What symbols are enclosed in the ceremony are important, but the ceremony is still secondary to the marriage. Is this a question you need to answer for the ceremony only, or will its answer affect the marriage as well?
Good luck figuring out what you want, and finding the best compromises you can.
|Date:||November 1st, 2005 12:23 pm (UTC)|| |
read harmful literature
junior soldiers promise
A part of me worries, in digression about the promise here not to
read harmful literature
, for all the obvious reasons.
|Date:||November 1st, 2005 12:27 pm (UTC)|| |
Re: read harmful literature
Hmm, I seem to remember my promise as having the wording on this page"
, and there not being anything about literature in it at all.
|Date:||November 1st, 2005 12:53 pm (UTC)|| |
1 Corinthians 11: 27 - 29
27Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.
...suggests that you probably shouldn't take Communion in your current state of belief, especially v29.
1) Most of that passage is talking about the church not getting on with each other and being impolite during the communion meal (because back then it was more like a meal than a ceremony), so it might be "don't be a complete ass to your brothers in the church and then take communion, please", interpreting v29's "recognising the body of the Lord" as being about the church as Christ's body rather than anything more literal.
2) The first half of that chapter is not exactly my favourite bit of the Bible, for fairly obvious reasons, and one I prefer to explain away, which makes relying on the second half for an argument quite a shaky proposition (because it is also quite situational, being about the communion meal as practiced by the early church which is a very different beast to the sacrament of the Eucharist as performed by modern churches).
Personally, High Church makes me twitchy and I much prefer the friendly Charismatic / Evangelical sort of Communion where we get hot cross buns and fruit juice and it's all about sharing things with each other rather than some big, cold ceremony with the priest presenting specially blessed bits of rice paper with crosses on which aren't even really food. But I still generally counsel against people who aren't sure they're Christians taking something designated as Communion because of those verses from Corinthians (and because they were always used as a warning before Communion by the tradition I grew up in).
|Date:||November 1st, 2005 02:46 pm (UTC)|| |
I think it's important to read these verses in context. This section is about people who turn up drunk, or eat by themselves. It's about the Corinthians failing to observe communion as anything other than a bunch of people who happen to be eating in the same room as each other.
Amusingly, the KJV translates v29 rather differently:
" For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body."
This (and Young's Literal) suggest that the emphasis may be more on the taking part unworthily - ie. going to communion as if it were any other meal causes one to fail to participate appropriately, causing damnation upon oneself, rather than a doctrinal requirement.
I think if you were sure it was all a load of tosh, you would be in danger of falling foul of this verse, but I think atreic
wouldn't be thinking about receiving if she believed this.
There's a danger in your argument of taking a Pharasaic view of communion - that only people who are already in a good relationship with God should be participating. I think that's quite harmful.
I believe that there is a special dispensation that the bishop can grant so that the unconfirmed may recieve communion for a particular event. It might well be worth looking into that for the specific event of your wedding. (This would also get round the confirmation issue - being stampeeded into such a decision is not IMO a good thing, and it would also allow you to have received communion, which M thinks would help).
Re: the more general theology, the problem with fuzzy liberal Christianity isn't the liberality, it's the fuzziness (and I firmly believe +Spong should resign on grounds of conscience and has no moral standing until he does so). Hard liberal Christianity is out there, but is rarer and harder to spot. I am also tempted to recommend you have a look at a copy of Quaker Faith and Practice (afaik, the only core religious book that gets updated regularly to reflect new insights and a changing world).
Sigh. I'll be very surprised if anyone except me reads all this...
A semi-theological post round this area of LJ and you'll be surprised if people read it?!?
|Date:||November 1st, 2005 01:00 pm (UTC)|| |
Nice idea, but weddings == really really really scary, big commitment, might freak out and run away screaming at last moment, and first communion == really really really scary big commitment, might freak out and run away screaming at last moment. Both together appear to be a really bad idea for my mental health. And I don't want to spend all the wedding worrying about whether I'll get taking communion wrong because I've had no practice :-)
A semi-theological post round this area of LJ and you'll be surprised if people read it?!?
It was more that it was very long. The best LJ posts for getting comments are those that say something important, but in a short and easilly accessible way.
|Date:||November 1st, 2005 12:59 pm (UTC)|| |
I'll be very surprised if anyone except me reads all this...
Just because I'm not commenting on lots of it doesn't mean I haven't read all of this and the comments.
I seem to recall talking to you about this walking around wimbledon common. If you want to talk to me again I'm always willing but I probably can't say more here than I said then.
For the record - I take communion unless I feel uncomfortable with the service for some reason. It enriches my life and it's something I should make time to do more often. I expect I will when I have children to take.
|Date:||November 1st, 2005 01:02 pm (UTC)|| |
I probably can't say more here than I said then.
Thanks for listening, love. It means a lot that you're there even when you're not commenting.
Although if you could remind me exactly *what* you said then, a bite sized LJ comment summery might help... (or you can always email me if you don't feel like doing battle with the rest of the internet for the right to do what you do)
|Date:||November 1st, 2005 01:09 pm (UTC)|| |
i won't advise.. because i wouldn't take my own :)
but.. personally, i am very unhappy taking actions/saying things i don't fully believe. i won't sing if i happen to be present in a church for this reason, nor pray or kneel.
and of course, it really won't help to ask - M knows that you're torn on the issue.. so even if you did confirm for this - would it be better or worse than special dispensation, or just being blessed?
(personally, i've not found the 'pat on the head' exclusionary - it's your contribution to the service.. being there, being blessed etc)
|Date:||November 1st, 2005 01:15 pm (UTC)|| |
As an atheist, I'm probably not qualified to comment on any of it because my only requirements for any religion is that it not impose its beliefs of restrictions on me.
However, one lateral view of the whole thing is to try out a couple of arguments. The first is that there is a supreme being, known by different names by different groups and worshipped in different ways by them. As such, he's solely responsible for the mess in which we find the world. On that basis, I don't want anything to do with him because if he's that crap at organising the world, he's probably worse at the afterlife. The second view is that it's a free market economy up there, with the Deity Known as God in competition with the Norse Consortium, Greek Pantheon Inc. and various others. That might explain the chaos we see in the world today but also shows that there are multiple valid options, all with good points and bad points, just like choosing where to buy your electricity.
So, in my model of the universe, you're either stuck with a useless monopoly or a chaotic marketplace, neither of which is particularly attractive. So I choose not to believe in higher powers.
|Date:||November 1st, 2005 02:51 pm (UTC)|| |
Your argument excludes the possibility that there's a supreme being up there who gave us free will and is looking down at the mess we're making of the world.
With respect to whether you should stop going to LSM or not... well I don't think you have to be a full signed up member of Christianity to go to or want to go to a church. There are lots of reasons you might go to church including it being a nice place to be, good for socialising, because it makes my SO happy, because I think I gain something there (spiritual, emotional, mental, whatever), because I want to learn more about the Christian faith, because I like stone buildings, because they give me free coffee / soup, etc...
I don't think any of these reasons are bad as such except in the context of the church / people not wanting you to be there because they don't like why you are there.
I think it would be helpful to spin the question around and ask why you do go to LSM. I'm not saying you should stop, but maybe by working out why you go there you'll be in a better place to work out all the other things.
|Date:||November 1st, 2005 02:27 pm (UTC)|| |
I love your gravity/apple analogy. It made my brain go "squeeee" for no good reason and I'm sitting here staring at your post wondering what I should do with that piece of writing so I don't lose it. There isn't really an equivalent of framing-and-hanging-on-the-wall for random pieces of LJ text.
It's not even as if I agree with the analogy: it does, after all, start from the assumption that everybody involved at least agrees on the existence of God, which I don't. But it was colourful and fun and very clearly written and made me look at the whole issue from an angle I'd never thought of before, and all of these are good things whether I agree with it or not. And it feels right, somehow, in a way that makes me suspect that what I really want to say is that I would agree with it if my premises were adjusted only a little bit towards yours.
The last thing you wrote that made me feel anything like that was the thing about using a time machine to go to Tesco. (Which, come to think of it, I can no longer put my finger on, and that makes me sad. I wonder if there's any better way to find things like that than downloading all the past entries from someone's LJ and grepping them.) I still think of that every time I get to the supermarket and they've just sold out of something I need.
|Date:||November 1st, 2005 02:34 pm (UTC)|| |
add to memories?
ooo there's alot of comments since I opened this this morning. Read yours, not theirs.
As you are know I am very similar to you, the main difference is that I Do approve of pick and mix chrisitians, strongly, in fact more strongly than the "every word is fact" sort. The bible contradicts itself enough anyway, and people who don't use their brains to interpret and digest and think about information before judging whether it is relevant valid and worth following frankly petrify me. (somewhat more so since the suicide bombing trend has picked up).
I don't know about mass. I sometimes bow my head and sometimes don't depending on how I'm feeling. I got confirmed when I was a christian nut, so haven't got that issue. If I wasn't though, I don't think I'd do it now. And I don't really see much difference in the bowing head or eating and drinking bit of that ritual. It is Just a ritual.
I concluded for myself - it doesn't matter what it's called or what anyone else thinks, if going to church is right for you go, whether or not random fanatics think you qualify as "christian" or not - it's not a qualification you need to go to church. If you like it, you like listening/partaking do it, if you don't don't.
The whole name calling thing is silly. I strongly believe there Are many paths to God. It is absurd for there not to be. maybe that makes me officially a heretic, but god doesn't seem to like me any less for it.
hope it sorts out in your head. Took me a while (obviously) but I feel much better for working through it and deciding where I want to be and realising where I am a bit better.
|Date:||November 1st, 2005 03:10 pm (UTC)|| |
A raving high-church anglocatholic [sic] speaks
- I don't think I'll say anything you've not heard me say before here, but.
There are a whole bunch of questions in here. I do think that communion is a central part of Christian life. Pace chess
, I don't think that somewhere like LSM makes it into a cold ritual; I think high mass is fun, a chance to worship God with all our senses, a chance to listen to His Word, to pray, and to give thanks. We do celebrate
mass. I'm not saying this is the only way to celebrate the eucharist, but I think it is a particularly good way, that I find immensely beneficial for my relationship with God. You can't condense everything I think about eucharistic theology into an LJ comment, natch :)
To move from the sacrament of the altar to the sacrament of holy matrimony, since aldabra
's thread touches upon what I think on it. I do think "the God bit" is important to marriage. For me, marriage is about more than an ever-shrinking tax break. It's about consecrating a relationship, offering it to God, and asking God to be part of it. Some theologians opine that marriage is an analogy of God's relationship with the Church - I'm not sure what I think about that.
So, meandering on towards nuptial mass. As you correctly observe, if I had everything my own way, we'd celebrate the eucharist at our marriage. To me, it's a way of saying "before we go off to get pissed and have a party, we're going to start the rest of our lives together with God". So, if you're not happy about receiving communion, then there's little point in having communion and you feeling excluded from that.
[was that vaguely helpful?]
|Date:||November 1st, 2005 04:40 pm (UTC)|| |
Re: A raving high-church anglocatholic [sic] speaks
Would it not make sense for *you* to say 'hey, God, I want to promise to you that I'll be a good Christian husband to atreic and that I am setting out to spend my life with her and God' and for her to not say that if she doesn't believe it?
I mean, if I were marrying a Christian then I would expect them to maybe want to say that, because it clearly is important to Christians... on the other hand I *don't* want to say that, because it would be lying. And I'd much rather stand up and say 'hey, people, friends, family, I love this person/people and I promise to be good to them and help make the best marriage that we can make' to the people in front of me, becasue I think of marriage as a social contract before my peers (rather than a contract before God). I wouldn't be upset if the person/people I was marrying wanted to tell God that they would be good Christians or if they wanted to tell Allah that they would be good Muslims or tell whoever that they would be good whatevers - I probably *would* be upset if they said 'I want to, but I won't unless you do' (because that would upset them) and I *definatley* would be upset if they actually came out and said 'you will do this or I will sulk' because, well, I would have thought that by the time we had agreed to make Public Promises to be married that we would have sorted out that we disagreed with each other (this helped by me having a Definate Position on the issue rather than an "I don't know").
Anyway, just my 5 cents.
|Date:||November 1st, 2005 03:10 pm (UTC)|| |
Wow. There's a lot of writing on this page.
If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. But if anyone says to you, "This has been offered in sacrifice," then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience' sake - the other man's conscience, I mean, not yours. 1 Cor 10:27-29
From that perspective, the only people you should worry about are the ones offering you the confirmation. (I appreciate the irony of casting the Christians in the role of the unbeliever in this particular application of scripture.) If you don't believe what you are expected to believe when you take communion, then it is for the sake of others if you do not participate. Food is only food:
what goes into a man's mouth does not make him unclean
. If no-one reaches God except through Christ, you can hardly make things worse.
I expect that doesn't help, but hey.
|Date:||November 1st, 2005 03:13 pm (UTC)|| |
Nuts, I can't edit that. I meant "communion" where I said "confirmation"...
I read it all, and I dont even know you (I am a bored-at-work-person), although we have an odd collection of mutual friends
I sympathise with alot of what you feel/say. I cannot qualify my own opinions over Jesus, although I do believe in god, and the spirit - this confuses people because apparently Jesus is the easiest bit of christianity to understand.
However, I do still go to church; although I, until recently (due to certain changes which I will not go into because I doubt a strangers' religious passings are that interesting) skipped out reading parts of the Creed, feeling very self-aware about lying in church, and stating a belief in Jesus like that that I cannot feel able to admit. When I began to go to church that was one thing I promised myself, that I would 'take it slow' and not take any steps until I was certain. This is predominantly because I was a pagan.
I do not take communion, for the same reason, and also because i am not confirmed. Part of me thinks that perhaps this is just an excuse, but I cannot really specify what I would be avoiding in communion by using excuses. I feel that to be 'right' in taking communion, I have to at least, be sure I am a christian, which i really am not certain about atall! Beyond that, I suppose I have to believe in Jesus, to believe in the Last Supper, to believe in the effects of communion. Etcetc
Oh, and christianity is a state of mind, not any form of outwards social conformity. IMHO, anyway.
|Date:||November 1st, 2005 04:32 pm (UTC)|| |
Thank you for that :-) Sometimes I think I'm the only person in the world who can believe in God and the Holy Spirit and yet have such a huge hang-up over Jesus, and just to know I'm not alone in this is reassuring.
I doubt a strangers' religious passings are that interesting
You'd be amazed what interests me ;-) But you're free to talk or not talk about whatever you want. (And if strangers relationships with religion arn't interesting, why did you read all this? ;-) )
Do you mind if I friend you? We have some quality people in common, and you're interesting :-)
|Date:||November 1st, 2005 04:21 pm (UTC)|| |
I took First Holy Communion at the grand old age of 8 (I was Catholic, the Anglicans got *Confirmed* at about 9 or 10). No, you don't need to be 100% sure (by which I mean that I'm fully convinced that 99% of all 10 year olds have *no clue*).