Friday, September 18, 2009

10 Churches, 10 Weeks

In my spiritual search, prayerful process and discerning disillusionment, I have not only gained an unprecedented appreciation for alliteration and senseless overstatements, but also a yearning for something more. In my last blog post, I asked the question: Can I find spirituality without a church?

It didn’t take long for my life to feel like it was missing something. Given that I happily (and guiltlessly) slept-in every Sunday, I know that the midmorning alarm was not was I craved. I found myself praying about as much as before (very little) and referring to scripture in philosophical discussion as much as necessary. It wasn’t until I started to teach my students “River in Judea,” the 500+-voice finale for this year’s choral festival that I began to break down. Of course, what I truly and so selfishly missed was the music.

As I sat in my room and cried like a baby, clutching my stuffed beluga whale and my holding cross, I thought of something. Rushing to the recycling bin I shifted through the papers and collapsed boxes until I found a bright yellow flier. It had been left on my door the day before and I barely remembered throwing it out.

What I first pushed aside thoughtlessly I now looked at intensely: an invitation to St. Pious Catholic Church.

"Why the hell not?” I said out loud, opening my laptop and surfing to their website. On the homepage, there was a picture of a priest playing a ukulele.

I have never been a shopper. In fact, I hate shopping. I rarely buy clothes and I go to the grocery store in the middle of the night when it is the least stressful. But occasionally I’ll get this feeling, this urge to stop by Macy’s. I’ll notice the sale sign up at Target or the advertisement in the paper from Ann Taylor Loft. Usually, it only lasts a day or so, but during this time I am inspired and motivated to spend time searching for something that literally, fits.

This is, unfortunately, similar to my “St. Pious break-down,” SPB for short. I began to notice church signs, billboards and started seeing invitations rather than closed doors. And so, I did what any dramatic, self-involved intellectual might do, I compiled a list and made a plan of action. 10 churches, 10 weeks.

The churches were chosen for different reasons, including location, denomination, size, and frankly, website design. St. Pious is last on the list, more as an homage to my muse as I have little to no interest in becoming a Catholic. I am taking this journey not only in a desperate attempt to find a new church home, but also, perhaps mostly, as a quest for answers.

Can a church be open and affirming without being “Open & Affirming"?

If a church feeds people but doesn’t affirm the LGBT population, is that better/different than affirming the LGBT population but not feeding people?

What does it mean to be in covenant? Spiritually? Politically? Justly?

How important is a denomination’s “position” on key political issues to my faith? To the faiths of others?

Where is the music, and can I sing along?

Music isn’t just what I miss about church, it is church for me. It is my connection and my communication with my religion, and without it, I am stranded in the dessert without water or a cell phone…or facebook. Every social justice, spiritual, religious, heartbreaking, prayerful experience I have had has been filled with music. And as a music teacher, music will never disappear from my life, and as long as it is there, it will search for the other end of its telephone line: God.

I invite you to go with me on this journey. To comment, to recommend, to discuss and, most likely, to amuse yourself with my Julie/Julia-like excursion. It starts this Sunday:

Sunday, September 20-Merriam Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Sunday, September 27- Countryside Christian (Disciples of Christ)

Sunday, October 4- St. Paul (Episcopal)

Sunday, October 11- First Lutheran (ELCA)

Sunday, October 18- Grace Covenant Presbyterian (PCUSA)

Sunday, October 25- Broadway Methodist

Sunday, November 1- Broadway Baptist (ABC)

Sunday, November 8- Community of Christ (RLDS)

Sunday, November 15- TBA

Sunday, November 22- St. Pious Catholic Church

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