Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical
hermionesviolin

Emmanuel Episcopal Church [2006-10-29]

As I was walking down Holland St., a guy asked the time.  I and a girl behind me both got out our watches, but she answered first.  She walked past us and he started talking to me.  He asked if I'd been to Sabour (I haven't) and said, "Have your boyfriend take you there."  He said it's a great date place and told me about how he'd chatted with one of the chefs &etc.  He also recommended the Someday Cafe as a great place to hang out (couches, etc.).

He continued talking to me all the way to Park St. (where I got off and he kept going).  His name is John (some really long last name beginning with P.) 38y.o. Irish&Italian "sober drug addict" from Charlestown.  He's a Democrat, anti-Bush, cited Stupid White Men on the 2000 Florida -- you see how this was not helping.

Definitely more physically attractive than Coast Guard Dwight (hi, Jonah) though in some similar ways very much not my type.  I actually don't think he was hitting on me at all, though.  V. early in the conversation he asked my age (23) and throughout, I felt like he was talking to me like a little sister or something.  I'm undecided as to whether I like the slightly "off" guys better when they're hitting on me or not.

***

I'd been meaning to attend Emmanuel Church in the City of Boston (15 Newbury St.) since I heard about its Bach cantata series back in mid-late September.  Due to said cantata series, I had completely expected it to be a very traditional (read: conservative) church.  This turned out to not be the case, which was a pleasant surprise.
http://www.emmanuel-boston.org/index.html
http://www.emmanuel-boston.org/hope.html
It is still an Episcopal church, however, and therefore not mine.  I was looking at the elaborate carvings in the wall/ceiling above the altar area and trying to decide how "high church" this particular church was (due to recent entries from Ari and recurrent discussions with Sarah) and when the vestemented people processed I realized that that whole processing thing -- with the crucifer and all -- automatically indicates to me that this is not my church, that I am visiting.  Protestant churches of various stripes (First Cong. in Norwood, CAUMC in Somerville, etc.) I can attend with some thought that this church might become "my church," but the whole Catholic-esque structure automatically jars me out of that and places me squarely in solely visitor/observer territory.  I find this interesting.  [Clarification: Not that such structure is in itself exclusionary; I have in some services found stuff hard to follow due to assumed BCP knowledge or whatever, but this church for example has everything clearly printed in the bulletin and allows congregants enough time to flip in their hymnals, so I never felt confused as to what was going on.]

Additional evidence of my lack of engagement was that I sang a lot of the hymns without thinking too much about the words, just feeling like "I'm here, with these people, in this context, and singing the hymns is what one does."  A lot of the hymns had really dull melodies, though, so sometimes I was quiet for that reason.  (The Opening Hymn was "O day of radiant gladness," which tune sounded familiar -- the hymnal said the tune is a German folk song -- but it was downhill after that.)

I actually recited the Nicene Creed (conveniently printed in the bulletin!).  It is a powerful piece of writing.  Don't think I'll be reciting it again any time soon, though, as there is so much I either don't actively believe or actively don't believe.

For those of you following the Lord's Prayer discussion [in a friend's LJ], it was "trespasses" and "the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for every and ever.  Amen."

First Reading: Job 42:1–6
Second Reading: Hebrews 7:23–28
The Gospel: Mark 10:46–52

I was annoyed that the sermon did not actually relate to the day's readings at all.  This bothers me less in places like UCN where I'm used to thinking of the minister's idea trumping everything else, but if one is working within a structure of textual cycles [I always forget the term for that -- lectionary?] then I think one has an obligation to exegete [is that even a word?] those passages.

The diocese convention was yesterday, and the resolution on marriage rites crafted by members of this church was adopted (72%).  Of course, it's 2½ years until it'll be up for vote at the national level.

Mike, the guy who crafted the resolution, said that civil rights veteran was once asked if he thought the Church was light on a hill in that area, and he said "a taillight, maybe," and Mike said, "Even taillights show the way to those who come after them."

The minister also talked about a Moses&Aaron opera she went to on Friday (Schubert I think, critique of the German church/es during the time of the Third Reich), and there were a couple bits that jarred with my recollection of the story.
She talked about how God called Moses to awaken Israelites to the One True God, to monotheism.  I thought the Israelites believed in YHWH going back to before the Exodus.  But maybe I'm just projecting a linear trajectory.
Also, at the end of opera, Moses destroys the golden calf and (I think by accident) the tablets on which the law was written.  I thought the tablets got carried around through the desert.
12:00noon  —  Adult Education Forum:
James Rowe Adams
Troublesome Words in the Bible
I left the sanctuary, picked up some printouts of recent sermons &etc. that were on a display table, and wandered over to what looked like it could be the "Parish Hall" (where the bulletin said this talk would be) and snacked on cookies and fruit.  There were very few people (though there were chairs set up and a podium, indicating I was in the right place.

A guy started talking to me, asked if I was a regular at this church.  I said I wasn't, and he said he wasn't either -- turned out he was the speaker :)  We chatted quite pleasantly; he loves the Boston area and has a daughter who went to Smith and loved it.  (He also lived in DC for a long time and knows Hagerstown.)

"How can we get more young people in the church?" a woman whose nametag said "Serafin" asked me during a pause in our conversation.  I was thrown, and had no answer.  In retrospect, I am distressed at being so explicitly tokenized.  (I was the only person under thirty in the room, but leaving aside the problematics of the whole "speak for your entire demographic" tack, I didn't get so much as a "Hello" before a direct question.  She seems like a very nice person, just a little not quite solid on social interaction.)
She did do a great job of selling me on the church, talking about how she and her husband came one time when their son had been diagnosed with leukemia, and the then-pastor visited their son three times a week, didn't talk church or anything.

*

At the beginning of his talk, Jim mentioned the Living the Questions series.

He said that whatever someone might say about taking the Bible literally, everyone picks and chooses which parts of the Bible they interpret as figurative language, using as examples: Jesus' Body and Blood speech, and the 6 days of creation in Genesis.

He talked about how we sometimes use words/phrases without even knowing their original meaning.  He said he knows what "at loggerheads" means from Patrick O'Brien books (and he explained it to us) but it has come to be just the phrase we use for something rather than evoking that specific image -- so in examining texts it's often difficult to discern whether the author had this specific image in mind or whether it was just the phrase for what something was.

He said that the word translated as "sin" has the same original image in both the Hebrew and Greek word (which he said almost never happens): an arrow falling short of the target.
I was reminded of jadelennox's LJ post around Yom Kippur in which she said:
Note: when I'm talking about sin, I mean in the Jewish sense of a missing of the mark. A paper handed back by the universe with "you can do better" scrawled across the top; nothing about evil or punishment

He said that sometimes things just get misheard and mentioned the "blessed are the cheesemakers" bit from Monty Python's Life of Brian.  ("Well, obviously it's not meant to be taken literally; it refers to any manufacturers of dairy products.")

He said that "pascha" (Passover) sometimes shows up as "pascho" (suffer -- Passion) and that it's at least one thousand A.D. before depictions of the Passion show up in art -- that before that, even when Jesus was depicted on the cross he was always in glory.

He said that worship meant sacrifice in all cultures in Jesus' time, and that one of the reasons for sacrifice was to release the life force -- so if you wanted to explain this new lease on life that you had thanks to Jesus, how would you talk about that to people?  Using the word "sacrifice," of course.  ("Sacrifice" also meaning "to make holy.")

He said that the word which translators made up the word "atonement" for is "kippur" (as in Yom Kippur) which means "to cover."  He used the metaphor of outhouses in talking about the powerful imagery of covering up the past.

He said "adelphos" means "from the same womb" and traditionally got translated brother/brethren and is now gender-inclusively translated brothers and sisters, which is fine, but he dislikes when translators try to use a less cumbersome phrase and thus change the meaning (brother/sister being a powerful image of family relationship) -- e.g., neighbors, disciples, believers, etc.

He talked about "sodomite" and the misreading of the Sodom and Gomorrah story.  He said it sometimes got translated "temple prostitute" and that the word was in fact kodesh (sp?) meaning holy one or saint -- that neighboring religions had services emphasizing fertility and that these were people set aside, for the purpose of having sex with the congregants during these fertility rites, so when you read about "driving out the sodomites" they were really driving out the clergy of competing religions ;)

He talked a little about his book From Literal to Literary, which I would definitely be interested in perusing.

Q&A
He had talked about the 17th century when people first started translating the Bible into English, and someone asked hasn't that been done earlier, weren't there English-speaking Christians before that time.  I was really surprised that this guy didn't know that the Catholic Church read the Bible in Latin for centuries and centuries and didn't let the common people read the Bible on their own and how translating the Bible into the vernacular was a big Protestant Reformation thing.  Jim said it was in fact illegal to translate the Bible, though some people did it (Lollards, Peasants Revolt, etc.).

He invited people to ask about words he hadn't mentioned.

Someone asked about "virgin" and he said that lots of rulers claimed to be born of a virgin -- that Alexander the Great was the first he knew of (claimed his father was Apollo).  He also said that "Prince of Peace" was a title Emperors would use -- bringing peace by any means necessary including force, of course.  Later, someone asked if it would be considered seditious to claim anyone else (besides the Emperor) was the son of god or any of those titles the Emperor used, and he said yes.

"Salvation" was originally a military metaphor -- the Old Testament God rescuing them from enemies.

"Redeem": to set free in the marketplace, emancipation of a slave

Someone asked about engaging in dialogue with, say, fundamentalist evangelicals.
He said he's done that before, and that one thing he has found helpful is to when people bring up texts to then go and read the fuller context together, that he did this with Leviticus and they all learned something.  They even had a good laugh about "leprosy of the wall" (probably fungus or mold) -- which he said gets 2 chapters in Leviticus.

He mentioned The Dishonest Church, which sounds really interesting.  Basically about how people go to seminary and learn all this stuff and then don't tell their congregations that information (for a variety of reasons).

*

I browsed the book table briefly afterward and it was at this point that I started to get a bit swarmed by people.

A woman named Margot asked if I'd filled out a blue card.  "Would you like us to know you?"

Another woman whose name I did not get comfortingly said that lurking is a time-honored tradition.

I talked some about my church-hopping, and the people did seem good, though I'm not especially inclined to go back (see above re: Episcopalianism).  I almost wanna go back next week, though, for their noon Adult Education Forum: "The Rev. Maureen Kemeza walks us through the Sunday Liturgy."

The minister introduced herself to me briefly before I left.

I am beginning to judge churches based on how actively welcoming they are to newcomers.  [Obviously statements of welcome to queer folk in the literature is a boon, but there's also the issue of how much people go out of their way to bring you in to the community once you've stepped through the doors.]

So yeah, that ate up my day from 9:10am-2:15pm (including travel time).

***

Speaking of churches I've been meaning to visit, I need to remember to make it down to Trinity (the big deal fancy historical church by Back Bay across from BPL; NB to self: 11:15am service -- or 9am if this CommonGround thing is every Sunday).  I think next Sunday I'm gonna visit Community Baptist, though (see Singspiration entry).  Not least because high church isn't my thing so I wanna space it out.  I'll be in Northampton the next weekend, so maybe I'll attend First Churches.  I could do Trinity the next weekend, then the Presbyterian down the street from me.
Tags: church: boston: emmanuel episcopal, planning ahead, random male person encounters
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