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A Baptist Among the Episcopalians

HUNGRY FOR LITURGY

By Michelle Bobier | July-August 1992
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. It’s 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 couldn’t 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 sis­ter’s 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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