True Story Thursday: Unorganized Religion

“Well that's it boys, I been redeemed! The preacher done warshed away all my sins and transgressions."

Without getting into the ever hot button religion discussion – because that’s not the point of my blog – let’s just say I don’t practice the religion I was born into and practiced for many, many years for a number of reasons.

There have been a few occasions in my life, however, when I felt like I needed some sort of spiritual presence to help celebrate the moment. When I got married, a reverend for hire officiated the marriage. She was wonderful – threw in just enough god talk to appease friends and family who were disappointed we didn’t get married in a church. Not to mention, she made sure we looked like we knew what we were doing up there in front of 200 friends and family members!

I hadn’t been faced with religion again until Ollie was born. Generally, people start asking when you’re going to baptize your child almost immediately after you become a parent. One relative threatened me with horrific tales of my child’s fate if he wasn’t baptized. Does every family have a zealot in it or what?

Largely, though, no one has really bugged us too much about it.

The idea of a child dedication or “welcoming” into the world in a spiritual way for Ollie did appeal to me, though. I did a lot of research on where we’d feel most welcome, where we could have a private dedication with no strings attached to become a member because honestly, I’m not going to join a group I cannot commit to. That is just code I live by. I don’t break promises, I don’t lie, I don’t commit unless I’m all in.

I found a church in Palatine, Ill., that fit our more liberal leanings. I liked the idea of a place where you are not judged based on lifestyle, past beliefs, current beliefs, etc. The only criticism of this group that I could find is that they don’t have a defined set of rules and that they dip into too many ideals. The very thing they’ve been criticized for is what I most respected about their approach.

Anyway, the pastor and I e-mailed back and forth in length about the dedication process and I was very upfront about my wishes. She commented a few times that the process would be a little different because we’re not members, but it’s definitely something the church has done for non-members. We set a date to meet in person at the church and she encouraged me to bring anything sentimental that might be useful in the ceremony – a favorite poem or blessing to include.

We met with her in April for probably a half-hour/45 minutes to talk about everything from our religious history to small talk about parenthood. I brought some materials, as she had asked, but they were never brought up. We had to fill out some paperwork. We toured the sanctuary and we expressed our plans for this to be a private occasion with just our little family and the pastor. She said it would cost $200 for use of the sanctuary. At the end, we set up a time and date with the front office. The pastor had so much going on over the summer, so we picked an August Sunday after service to hold the ceremony. I watched the lady in the office pencil it in. The pastor was in the room because she had to confirm that day was open. The whole point of the meeting was to schedule this appointment.

So I have had this penciled in since the April meeting. Then I get an e-mail yesterday from the pastor notifying me that she came across a note about the dedication Sunday. She said because I hadn’t confirmed, she made out-of-town plans.

Seriously? On what planet does the guy who’s getting paid to perform the service require YOU, the client, to confirm? Why was the ball suddenly in my court when I did everything right to make this happen? All I can say is I’m glad I didn’t put down a deposit or give her cash in full. I’m equally glad I didn’t send out invites for this.

I always try to be super empathetic about human errors. I’m human and I screw up more than I would like. The first thing I do, though, when I even think maybe there’s a teeny tiny chance I am at fault, is I check it out. If it checks out that I’m responsible, even partially responsible, I fess up, apologize, commit to trying harder and move on. If I can make it right, I’ll make it right. I hold everyone I deal with to those expectations. If you weasel your way out of admitting your mistakes, I draw lots of conclusions about your character and don’t go out of my way to interact with you in the future.

Did she apologize after I explained my case? Yes. She felt horrible and said she’d rather fulfill her obligation Sunday than go on the trip. Was it too late? Hell yes. I told her thank you for the apology, but we’re going to pass. My instinct told me it’s better to just walk away from this one.

What should she have done? Called me for starters. I’m worthy of a call. She should have said something like, “Hey, I think I might have double-booked your ceremony. Can we reschedule at your convenience and we can do it for half price?”

That’s customer service (this is a business, after all). That’s also called being human.

This is all about one person’s wacky priorities and expectations, not the church as a whole. I was definitely planning on attending the service Sunday before the dedication to see what they were all about. They were on my radar even though I wasn’t on their pastor’s.

Ollie will be officially welcomed into this world by some spiritual presence, even if he’s potty trained by then. I’m now researching officiants like the woman who married us. Hopefully, for the price the church wanted, this person can come to the house, say some nice things and leave. Not asking a lot here.


0 Responses to “True Story Thursday: Unorganized Religion”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Enter your email addy to subscribe.

Join 21 other followers

Bettie Page Kids Clothing

140-Character Musings



%d bloggers like this: