Monday, November 10, 2008

Finally Did it, Daniel... I mean God...

Daniel was, and I am being so un-PC here, a total lunatic. The poor old fellow probably spent most, if not all his life, in mental institutions likely suffering from schizophrenia. Daniel thought he was God.

Daniel hung around the door of the small geriatric psych facility that I did some work for in the mid 1990s. "Don't you know I am GOD!??", he would shout at anyone who entered, as he teetered on his cane and hung on to the tank of oxygen trailing behind him.

Most visitors passed by without comment or avoided him completely by entering through the back door. I, however, would stop and talk to him, bemused by this strange and sad creature, sometimes shamelessly egging him on. As I was listening intently to God speak one day, a fellow resident down the hall was insistently bellowing "he is NOT GOD!! HE IS NOT GOD!!!!!!. Finally, she walked up to me and smacked me on the arm, "Damn it, he is NOT GOD! God is 6 foot 4 and better looking than that son of a bitch." No, folks.. I could not make this up.

One fine afternoon, Daniel asked me if I was Catholic. "No I am a Methodist", I replied. "There are only two true religions," he sternly advised me, "Catholicism (which he pronounced "Cathlick-ism") and Congregationalism. All will be in Heaven by 1997!!!!". He seemed disappointed that I was not either/or and waddled away. I was left feeling numb; I had annoyed God, and he was on oxygen to boot. All did not bode well. Some philosophers have claimed God is dead; I didn't want to be fingered as the murderer!

Well Daniel....God... whatever... it may be 11 years late, but I am becoming a member of one of the "two true religions".

Calm down, I am not turning Catholic. I have little love for that homophobic, corrupt organization. But I have started attending a United Church of Christ (UCC) church, Country Club Congregational UCC to be exact. I kind of like it.

Several things wrenched me from the United Methodist Church. The UMC just doesn't get it and continues its hypocritical path. "Open Minds, Open Hearts, Open Doors" is the current UMC slogan. But that does not include the GLBT community. Yes, some local congregations buck the church and accept gays lesbians, et. al, but do so at peril. Methodist congregations have no control over who is appointed their pastor. Therefore, they do not have to accept the congregation's wishes. The Methodist Book of Discipline, more important than the Bible to many, is inconsistent and contradictory. "Homosexuality is incompatible with Christian Teaching", they love to cry. Yet at the same time, gays and lesbians are supposed to be treated with respect... as a sinner. And don't try to become an ordained minister if you are openly gay or lesbian, that means an automatic "trial", shades of Salem.

I just got tired of it. That is combined with a local pastor who seems to be systematically dismantling the church I was a member of for over 10 years.

UCC was founded in 1957 with the union of the Evangelical and Reformed Church and the Congregational Christian Churches. The Congregational Churches trace their history back to the Pilgrims and Puritians of the 1600s. Despite a Puritian heritage, the UCC holds progressive views on GLBT issues and other social justice issues. Congregations have extensive authority over matters of doctrine and ministry, the mother church guides and holds the denomination together in a spirit of communion and shared history, not with dogma and legal chains. Years ago, the UCC leadership decided that being gay or lesbian was a non issue to them, thus there are gay pastors, lesbians on boards, etc. It is so refreshing.

But I am sad as well. I feel a bit unsettled as I leave a church and an instution I have been a part of for most of my life. I will miss seeing the congregation at my old church, those that are left that is, the number leaving is rising. Some are coming to CCCUCC with me. I will visit perhaps, and make that special effort to connect with the ones who are special.

So, after all this time, I can finally get to Heaven, according to Daniel... I mean God. But do I have to wait to the next year that ends in 7?

No comments: