It seems that life can be divided into two major stages: 1) You go to a lot of weddings 2) You go to a lot of funerals. I am in Stage Two.
I am not a big fan of the church where I spent most of my youth. I can’t tell you exactly why. I like most of the people, very much so. But, I guess I would say that I feel they, as a denomination, worship a very small god and one with some major anger issues. I worshiped this same god for many, many years and even when I stopped doing so, he (it must be a he in this denomination) really climbed inside my head.
For many years now I have been discovering a much bigger God and at the same time, finally coming to understand Jesus – no understanding is not the right word, more like turning my head like cocker spaniels do, and pondering the great mystery. My previous understanding of Jesus is that he performed receptionist duties for the small god – I could see small god but I had to get through the receptionist first. Now I am beginning to contemplate a much more expansive Jesus. “In the beginning was the Word…” I have a ways to go, but if I keep moving in this direction I might have to find some Franciscan order to join – Can non-Catholics, with occasional foul mouth issues, do that?
This weekend, I returned for a funeral service to the church where I had grown up and had just been 3 months ago for own father’s service. This time I was more of an observer whereas at my father’s service I was a heartbroken little boy in an old guy’s body. A nice little choir came up and sang a melody of old fashion Christian songs about heaven. I dug the music. One guy in particular in the choir was really selling his enthusiasm for the afterlife. Later, at the food portion, Mr. I Love Heaven And I Just Can’t Wait To Get There drifted over by my table. I felt compelled to make some small talk so I said, ” I really enjoyed the choir.” He said, “Oh I love singing about heaven because it is such a wonderful place. I believe it without a doubt.”
Now, I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t want to lie. I didn’t want to offend either. I certainly didn’t want to debate. I came back with, “Oh…really.” This was a comment, not a question. He sensed my lack of – actually I don’t know what I lacked – and upped his conviction by telling me, “I teach 9 years old in Sunday School and I tell them to think about how great Disneyland is and to then multiply it by 10 times and that is what heaven is like!”
Several things hit me at once in forms of bubble thoughts: 1) Can 9 year olds multiply? Maybe in South Korea they can, but certainly not in America. 2) Heaven is only 10 times greater than Disneyland? I haven’t been to Disneyland in 30 years or so. I need to go again. It must have really improved. 3) Holy fuck, you’re really filling these kids’ minds up with that shit? Comparing heaven with commercialism, the tourist industry, for-profit corporation and small god knows what else, just seems…wait, that sounds familiar. I think I was told something along those lines when I was 9 years old too.
Instead of sharing these bubble thoughts, I came back once again with, “Oh…really?” This was a question, not a comment. My faced must have told him my true feelings. He casually drifted away from my table, but asked my name again as he left and he seemed like he was trying hard to remember it.