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religion

Language in worship, who needs it?

I have been going to a book church book club (despite not belonging to that church) and we got onto an interesting topic. One of the ladies there mentioned that she was looking for a church but every time she went to one she became uncomfortable with what was being said. I feel exactly the same way about being in a church, so I don’t go. Unlike her, I don’t feel any particular urge to be with other people for stuff like that.

But what do you do if you are drawn to that but keep getting put off by what is said? I suppose you could keep looking, but there is no perfect fit for someone like that unless she started her own church. I had what I thought was a pretty stupid idea at first, but I’ve warmed up to it now.

I enjoy some operas. The music is powerful, the singing is amazing, and a story os told by the music and the actions on stage even when I don’t understand the words. I absolutely hate musical theatre like your typical broadway show. What’s the difference? I can understand the words in the broadway show and they drive me nuts. They are emotionally overwrought, sappy, and just plain stupid. It turns out the same thing is true in opera if you translate the lyrics. So if I knew German, Italian, or French well enough to follow the operas, I’d probably hate them too.

My point is that sometimes some vagueness around the edges will enhance the experience. If you feel a presence in a church because of the architecture, the actions of the parishioners, the music, the decorations, etc. but are put off by the idiot up in the pulpit, perhaps opera is the answer. I suggested that she go to a service in a different language, one in which she will understand very little. Let the spirit of the occasion sink in without the details and see what happens.

Surprisingly enough, she said that her most powerful spiritual experience occurred in a situation when she was chanting with other people in a language she didn’t understand. So now maybe she’ll go to a Greek Orthodox service or something. Maybe the Catholics had something with the Latin mass after all…

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