A Baptist Among the Episcopalians
July-August 1992By Michelle Bobier
Michelle Bobier is a Chicago writer. Her work has appeared in The American Scholar, the Virginia Quarterly Review, and elsewhere.
Although I am a Baptist, I occasionally visit a certain high-church Episcopal (Anglo-Catholic, really) church in Chicago. My husband, also a Baptist, accompanied me on these sorties a few times, but now refuses to go with me anymore, except rarely. The liturgy is too ceremonial, he says; the incense and bells and chanting and kneeling make him uncomfortable. Its interesting that the very things that discomfit him are what draw me back.
I was raised in a Methodist household. Our church was small and plain inside and out, and the services were equally unadorned.
I remember precisely nothing about my religious education. I do remember being baptized with a damp hand laid on my head, and I vaguely recall sitting through baptism preparation classes, which I presume I passed. Much more vivid than the baptism itself was my realization that it held absolutely no meaning for me; it was just a brief ceremony and a wet head. I couldnt understand why my mother was teary-eyed over it.
Our ministers, while distinct in personality, had certain important traits in common: They were all young and earnest and boring. Aside from the ice cream socials we had on the church lawn in summer, my sisters and my chief recreation at church was to watch various men (notably Mr. Randall, the local superintendent of schools) fall asleep during the sermon and be subtly, but forcefully, awakened by their wives.
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