I've been toying with this post for a while now, trying to figure out how to best discuss this. I've decided to just be straight up about it. After much deliberation, we've decided to baptize Doug in the Methodist Church. I'm very excited that we've decided to do this, and his baptism is set for mid May.
I have to say, that as an adult, I've been dissatisfied with the Catholic Church (I will refer to it as the Church) for quite some time. I think the real last straw came in January when the priest from our parish was taken away on child molestation charges. The charges were from the '80s, from two different parishes. Now, I know that is certainly not representative of all priests. However in my mind, it was just one more way that the priesthood was failing.
I remember the whole process for getting married in the Church. It was kind of ludicrous. I felt like both Jeff and I and the priest who was marrying us were just going through the motions of the marriage prep meetings we had together. To be honest, the meetings were a complete joke. I can honestly see that some people truly have a need for them, I don't think that the idea is without merit. It's just that meeting with some one who's not married to discuss marriage is a bit, well... unhelpful to say the least. I know that priests are in a committed relationship to God, I get that. However, God doesn't leave the toilet seat up or sleep through the baby crying! I do remember that the priest was deeply concerned with who would make breakfast in the morning. Yes, I'm serious. I don't think we discussed child rearing and the responsibilities involved at all. That being said, I think they should add something about caring for a special needs child. Jeff and I discussed the possibility of it before we got married and again before we got pregnant. I know that it absolutely can't be anticipated, but I think you need to have a dialogue open about the subject. Anyway, for most of it we felt like we were just saying what was expected of us, not how we actually live our lives.
As an adult, I've joined two Catholic Churches. The first one I joined when I started working so I could contribute weekly so that I would be considered a member. This would allow us to be married there. So, when I signed up, what did I get in the mail? Envelopes dated for each week to put my checks in. After we got married we joined a more local church. We got more envelopes in the mail. In mid March we started attending services at a local Methodist church, we left our address with them and I was expecting more of the same in the mail. What we actually got was a letter of welcome from the pastor! Imagine that! We're valued as people, not another source of revenue! I think that right there clearly shows the priorities of the two different organizations.
The other thing about the Catholic Church, is that it's a very 'members only' kind of organization. I do understand that the Church does have some fundamentally different ideas about communion, and that you need to be initiated before you can partake. What I don't understand is why it is SO hard to become a Catholic. It should be harder to get OUT of the Church than IN! So poor Jeff (who is Methodist, I should have mentioned that earlier) just got to sit there for most of the mass. I know he did it because he loves me, but still, its kind of a sacrifice each week. We had discussed the possibility of him becoming Catholic at some point in time, but I knew that he wasn't ready and would unlikely be ready at some point in the near future. When you sign up to become a Catholic as an adult, it's pretty hard core. You have to really want it. It's also evidently hard to become one as an infant. I'm not really sure why. There are classes involved for the parents, and the God parents practically have to have notarized letters from their pastors. I wanted us to be able to fully participate as a family. The Methodists seem to have no such restrictions. If you want to be there, then be there.
And then there's this particular Methodist Church itself. We were told it's one of the oldest Churches in the area. It's very lovely and is located on Main Street. The first time we went there was the weekend before Doug was born. It seems to be a smaller community than most of the Catholic churches I've ever been to, we were immediately recognized as new people. It was an experience unlike one I'd ever had in a Catholic church; people came over to us and introduced themselves! I'd been to many Catholic churches, and this had never ever happened. It left quite an impression on us. When we returned with Doug we got a lot more people to say hello, because well, he's pretty darn cute.
Jeff and I also find ourselves more able to identify with the pastor of this church. He's married and has young children. So he's obviously familiar with the concerns and trials of raising a family. And then there's just his personality, he's very charismatic. He friended us on facebook and we saw that we'd get along like a house on fire. He's into Metallica, Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars. The sermon he gave last week actually involved Star Wars. We were a little disappointed that he didn't do a Yoda voice though.
I find myself looking forward to and enjoying going to church again. I feel renewed each week and challenged to think more about my faith. I enjoy the more open and community prayer aspects of the service, it reminds me of the services before school that Mrs. J led. However, the pastor doesn't call us 'little fatties', lol.
Please don't misunderstand me, I have great respect for those who are Catholic, for anyone who is truly devoted to their faith. The Catholic Church just isn't for me anymore. I find some of their ideas out-dated and frankly hurtful. I'd much rather be a happy Methodist than a lip service Catholic any day.