Today was the first time I’ve been inside a church in twenty-three years, unless you count the Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegasin 1999, but I imagine that doesn’t really count. My husband and I didn’t have a church wedding because we weren’t church going people.
So, with my limited experience of attending church of the Methodist and Presbyterian variety on Christmas and Easter, I kind of had an idea of what to expect from a Sunday service. I knew there would be singing and preaching and at some point, a plate would be passed around to deposit money. For my first day of church of the Baptist variety (my maternal grandmother was a Baptist), I opted to attend the traditional service instead of the contemporary service. I guess I’m old school and I kind of dig hanging out with old people, so there you have it.
What I did not expect at a church service was politics.
So, I sat down in the last row and moved into the middle so that I could be surrounded by people—less chance of an escape route that way. (Oh, pipe down, it was just a joke!) To my left was an older man by himself who had a lovely singing voice. To my right was a couple in their fifties and at the end was a single older woman. Everyone in the chapel was white, with the exception of one black woman who was by herself two rows in front of me. At the front of the chapel was a white haired piano playing woman and on a giant screen was an American flag. I figured, well, it’s the fourth of July here in three days, so that’s great. I love America!
The service started out with us all standing and singing. First up was “Glory, Glory, Hallelujah,” then we said the Pledge of Allegiance and then it was back to singing. We sang the “Star Spangled Banner,” “My Country Tis of Thee,” and finally “America the Beautiful,” but only the first and last stanzas.
So far, I was digging it. I like to sing and I rarely get to do it outside of the shower, so the man to my left and I were really belting it out. It felt good. The people to my right seemed to be merely mouthing the words and the couple in front of me kept whispering to one another during the songs. I imagined them saying something along the lines of “Maybe we should just go to Starbucks. Do you think the pastor will notice?”
And he wouldn’t have noticed. Why? Because he wasn’t there. He was being televised onto a screen. I was like, dude! I could do this at home in front of my computer. Okay, maybe I couldn’t sing patriotic songs with a bunch of strangers, but I kind of wanted to see a real live person addressing the congregants. Isn’t that what’s supposed to happen? When a real person stands in front of you and talks, afterwards you can go up to them and ask, “What did you mean when you said that a presidential candidate who doesn’t believe in the absolute truth of the Bible (like if he believes in the theory of evolution) that we shouldn’t vote for him?”
The whole thing was about who to vote for, but not specifically. From what he said about “Obamacare” I didn’t get the feeling that he cared for our President that much and he said that Mitt Romney is a Mormon, “which is a theological cult.” I don’t know, maybe I have a childish view of religion in that I wanted it to be about loving my neighbor (even though he doesn’t mow his lawn) or having it reaffirmed that “Yes, Jesus loves me.” Instead, I was told that I could register to vote right outside the chapel. If I wanted politics, I could turn on the TV.
As I left, the first song on the radio of my car was by Billy Joel. These lyrics popped out at me as I drove home.
You may be wrong for all I know
But you may be right
The service I attended is available on CD and DVD according to the Church’s Twitter and Facebook feeds. The times, they are a changin’!
And yes, I’ll be back there next week.