Monday, June 05, 2006

Christening

Our little friend had her baptism yesterday, followed by a sunny luncheon at her parents' house. It was a great time, and timely,too: with the Monkey's birthday celebration coming up this Sunday, it was an opportunity for us to crib some notes on catering and symbolism alike.

A challenge about doing a secular blessing is that we have to develop our own sybolism. I've always been impressed at how the Catholic church uses physical symbolism: baptismal water, annointments, incense, wafers, ash smudges, palm fronds, and all that other good stuff. Surely all these symbols tap into and fulfill a deep human instinct for mystical imagery. And while a point in favor of secularism/agnosticsism/atheism is refusing to appeal to unseen and unknowable explanations to give our lives meaning, I think humans are hardwired to appreciate them.

One of our solutions is to hear more voices. We are inviting all the guests at the Monkey's ceremony to bring some words, art, music, or other expression of blessing. We did something similar at our wedding: the three speakers at our wedding (plus our freshly-ordained cousins) were not given passages to read, but rather were invited to bring their own words to say.

Anyway, I always enjoy a church service. The music is usually good, and the priest at our friends' church is quite the showman. Best of all, the kids did great: not only our little friend (and new member of the Catholic church) who didn't even object to the baptismal drenching, but also our little Monkey, who kept it together more than 60 minutes of mass.

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