Monday, June 4, 2007

They Don't Look Like Presbyterians to Me!

Yesterday I took an early morning trip to Topeka to attend church with my grandma Me-Me and then on to Newton for my cousin Laura's wedding shower.

My grandparents are members of Trinity Presbyterian and have been for over 50 years. It's the church that my parents were married in and a church I've attended on many occasions. It was also where we were met with this scene on Sunday morning-
Yes, those are members of the Westboro "Baptist" Church located in Topeka, and yes, they were protesting the Presbyterian church. (Or possibly the Unitarians across the street.) I'm a little surprised Me-Me didn't pop the Buick off the curb and run them down. Instead she just shook her head and said "If they're so righteous, why aren't they in church!"

Unfortunately that's a pretty common sight in Topeka on Sunday mornings. It's frustrating to me because while I believe in free speech, where do we draw the line? Freedom of hate speech? I suppose however that some people might find me equally as offensive-

Those two pictures just re-emphasize my biggest problem with religion- we can twist and manipulate to back up whatever point of view we choose. But that's another issue for another day.

(Probably the 3 hottest cousins ever. I don't know how well this picture shows it, but people use to think Laura and I were twins.)

Laura's wedding shower was fun. I was fortunate to see people I hadn't seen for quite awhile and it's always enjoyable to see what great kitchen gadgets the bride receives. 2 cookie sheets and a set of mixing bowls later and I decided I'd be headed to Tulsa once she and Adam get settled in for some fresh baked cookies.

Cookies and protesters aside, I had one of those crazy "mind-blowing" moments during the worship service in Topeka. We were singing "Holy Holy Holy" (you know...)

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, bless├Ęd Trinity!

When I read in the hymnal that it was written in 1826, I suddenly had this realization of how many times this song must have been sung in the 50 years my grandparents attended this church, and then how many people have joined in the singing of this song across the world in those 50 years and then all the people who have sung the song in the 181 years since the hymn had been written. I was overwhelmed by this experience I was sharing with millions and millions of people without their realization.

It's mind-blowing how often we share experiences with others and not even know it. We often feel alone and isolated in this big world, when in all actuality by simply being human we share so much with one another. I love and live for those connections, those moments, when I realize there is so much more beyond myself out there.

I hope that you, my reader, know how that feels. I hope that we can have that shared experience of shared experiences. I hope we can have that connection.

I think if everyone had even a momentary realization of our interconnectedness the world would be a vastly different place. People would become people once again. Not untouchables, not the enemy, not "us" and "them", but human beings with rights and dignity.

Maybe I'm just a cock-eyed optimist. But I'm okay with that.

PS: The Presbyterians are cheaters. We were using a Methodist hymnal.
PPS: Thank you to everyone who was at the wedding shower for not asking when I'm going to get married. It was a relief. I'm not weird for not getting married at 22.


Ryan H. Paul said...

Wow, you two really do look alike. I've often though (recently anyway) about how many times people have done something before I have. For instance...the number of people that had used the toilets in the Fiji house before I did. (I never said they were pleasent thoughts...)


kourtney said...

"God's rod"??

Um... is it wrong I'm giggling right now?

HannahWho said...

hi, i was just randomly browsing through blogs when i came upon yours and i just felt like saying that i think i feel something kinda similar to your realization when you were singing holy holy holy when i sing at church too. I think in general i feel closest to everyone when we're all singing together at church. it just really moves me for some reason...
and also, i don't get that first picture of people protesting... what are they protesting? and how come churches are protesting each other?