Tuesday, February 05, 2008

"Like Your Cross"

If that isn't a Christian-spotting gambit, I don't know what is. A new employee in our company was in my office and we were getting to know one another, swapping industry war stories, playing "do you know so-and-so?" Her parting statement was a gesture to my little bulletin-board San Damiano Cross as shown above, the cross that St. Francis of Assisi prayed before.

Now we'll see what the next move is. I like this game! I remember feeling my way through the staff when I got here, looking for the code words:

Church names? "St. Female Name?" Catholic, easy one, with the exception of "St. Mary's," which is always Episcopalian. "St. Gospel-Writer-Name?" Could be Catholic, but could be Episcopalian or Lutheran. "All Souls/All Saints?" Episcopalian 9 out of 10 times. "First?" Mainline probably already fallen into liberalthink. "Willow/Harvest/Freedom?" Non-denom, Emergent, and sincere, probably.

Phrases? "It's a blessing that...."
"The kids drew that in Sunday school..."
"Yeah, a normal weekend, shopping, yard work, church,......"

Then comes the next level of discovery, waiting for something funny the celebrant said and then listening for whether you call them a pastor, a minister, a priest. It's like a pinball game, as the ball rolls down through the various alleys. "Priest?" Easy one. "Pastor?" Probably Lutheran. "Minister?" Who knows, reset the sights and try might not even have a Christian yet with "minister."

What's your lure of choice to draw out the Christians in the crowd?


Salome Ellen said...

Wow, it must be different out your way! Here in the Archdiocese of Detroit, there are seven straight-up "St. Mary" parishes (including ours ;-D ), four "Saint Mary of .." and a "Saint Mary Mystical Rose", which is certainly recognizably Catholic. The only Episcopalian "Saint Mary" I've ever heard of was near my home town back in Pennsylvania, and they were so high-church that my friend who went there called herself an "English Catholic".

kc bob said...

Cool post TZ.. got me thinking..

Back in my Episcopal days I went to All Saints Episcopal and called the priest Father Clague (last name).

In those Catholic days it was St Agnes or Holy Trinity and called the priest Father Wisner (last name) and Father Ray (first name).

In my non-denom days it has been Faith Chapel, Full Faith Church of Love, Celebration Community Church, Vineyard Christian Fellowship and Metro Christian Fellowship. In these places I called the leaders Howard, Brother Ernie, Hal, Fred, Jeff, Floyd and Jim.. a bit more casual in the non-denom world :)

I agree with you about phrases telling us a bit about folks.. sometimes I think these phrases are an invitation to dialog.. like the cross in your office.. I have a few crosses in mine but most people aren't too surprised by them :)

Therese Z said...

S.Ellen, that's interesting. I may have over-generalized. Our "Mary of the" parishes that I'm aware of (and there like 600 parishes in the two local (arch)dioceses total) don't have a "St." in front, but a nice long "of the" in the back. We are loaded with "Our Lady of the" whatevers. I guess I noticed the slightly arms-length relationship the Piskies have with Mary, by titling her, properly, Saint, but not Mother.

KBob, I keep forgetting you have Piskie roots. The Father lastname/firstname issue has changed a little over the years. When I was young, we never called them "Father Firstname" but then we were a lot politer in those days. Now, I always call them "Father Firstname" EXCEPT where we have two Father Joes, then they get their last names back to tell them apart.

I went through a short stage of calling priest friends by their first name only, at their invitation, but I realize now that wasn't right. Their ordination is a permanent change in their being and a permanent change in my relationship with them. Those priests weren't all that they could have been, and I note that the holy priests of my acquaintance now, even when we are really quite friendly and close, are still "Father Firstname" in all circumstances.

I flinch a little calling any minister, at least during his professional capacity, in a service or after it, by their first name, because I know that God has called them to be the minister of the service, and as such, should be named, not to give them honor, but to remind all of us that we are a worshipping group of people, if that makes sense. So when I meet Protestant ministers, I settle for calling them all "Pastor Joe." I sure hope that isn't insulting - let me know if it is and I'll stop!

kc bob said...

While my ordination may entitle me.. please.. don't call me Pastor Bob :)

Therese Z said...

Yikes. Not happy, that post. Why is a first name warmer and friendlier (and therefore more loving)? Do I not call my mother "Mother" with the greatest affection and tenderness? Why would calling her by her first name make it more comfortable?

I guess that if someone is used to thinking that a title sets off a person from the rest of the group, then it would feel cold. But when you're used to having a title both paying them respect and identifying the structure of the group by titling its main characters, then there's no boundary. I sure don't have any awe in my voice when I call him "Father" - I have affection only. (Or pastor!)

Therese Z said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kc bob said...

I guess I'm just a little less formal than you are TZ. I think that titles such as doctor or judge (i.e. your honor) may be appropriate in the hospital or courtroom but in a friendly discussion among friends it gets pretty weird. Likewise in a church setting it may be appropriate to address a person in a formal way but in a non-professional setting it is a bit weird to me.

I am comfortable calling my wife's priest cousin Father Karl in church but I call him Karl in other settings.. and if he came to my church I would be more comfortable if he called me Bob.

TZ, ..since you brought it up.. do you call you mom "Mother First Name" or "Mother Last Name"? I call my mother "mom".. guess I am just less formal :)

MTR said...

Love this post. Can totally relate



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