Saturday, May 27, 2006

 

Gimme that ol' time religion!

I almost never sing hymns in church, I just kinda mutter along. The main reason is that I cannot carry a tune in a bucket. However, I love to hear Sharon sing. I think she has a beautiful voice and I get much more from the hymns listening to her than from me having to concentrate to keep up. There are certain hymns where she really gets with it. She says that it's the hymns played in a particular note. Seems like it's C flat or something like that. I am tone deaf so I wouldn't know the difference. I do not know what makes us remember certain events from our childhood and not remember others. I guess that my preference of religious music stems from my childhood.

The only thing I can remember about the First Baptist Church in Kingsport, Tennessee is, I believe, it was big and located on a cul-d-sac(? I have spelled this so bad that SpellCheck just put up a big question mark. Of course, I remember a lot about the First Baptist church in Longview. It was big, very big. I bet the First Baptist Church in Longview now owns about half of the downtown area. I also remember that when Mom, Toni and I went off to church, I was always late and had to put my socks and shoes on in the car and my shirt was unbuttoned. I got dressed on the drive to church.

When I was on one of my many visits to Uncle Ober's and Aunt Mary's farm, we always went to a Methodist Church, it was just down the gravel road, around the bend and up the hill. The church was wood framed with a thin, tall wooden steeple. Seems like it was always freshly painted white. The windows were open in the summer and one pot belly wood burning stove provided heat in the winter. Uncle Ober wore overalls with a white shirt to church. The overalls and shirt were always freshly washed and ironed. Other than his shoes, that was the only difference between what he wore every day to work on the farm to milk the cows and hoe the tobacco. As a group, I don't believe I have heard any choir that sounded as good as the congregation of farmers in that old Methodist Church in Greene county Tennessee. I guess that's why I love the old hymns. Everyone sang, and I mean everyone. Some folks were on tune and most folks were not. Together, they made the sounds of Sunday morning with their East Tennessee twang that I loved. I guess it was not they were the best sounding choir I have ever heard, but they were the most sincere. I went up to the that old, little church the last time I was in Greene County and stood outside as my mind wandered back to the late '40's. The church was still freshly painted white. If I closed my eyes I could Imagine "The Old Rugged Cross" being sung inside the church, escaping through the steeple, and echoing across those green hills.

After Joey and Maria's wedding in Wimberley, I went with a friend to the Cypress Creek Church. I believe the church is Pentecostal. I had never heard of the songs they were singing. Evidently, no one else did either because they keeping flashing the words across a two big tv screens. Seems like every song had about two lines of lyrics they kept repeating about 100 times. I was not impressed. I believe that the myths used by the political right to gain control of most of our state governments and our federal government is that Religion is under attack in America. From my observations, religion is doing quite well. Take a look at most of the big elegant churches all around you. Most of the Evangelical ministers generate such a large cash flow they start their own colleges. Look at Jim & Tammy Baker's retreat in North Carolina! Pat Robertson was going to build a 35 acre theme park in Israel until one of his numerous stupid remarks got the project canceled. I have seen a lot of extravagant Churches here and during my trip to Europe. I prefer the smaller, plainer churches. Of all the churches I have attended or seen, the most beautiful church I can remember is that white, wood frame church in Greene county Tennessee. I guess that is why I am comfortable with our church in Houston. No, it's not plain or wood frame, but it is not extravagant. It is also small by today's standards. You can hear and see our pastor from your pew without the aid of TV screens and a surround sound audio system. Christ The Servant Lutheran Church make me feel like I am an important to the church, not just a face in a nameless sea of faces. I go there for the sermon and the solitude, not the glitter and the flash I find in most other churches.

A couple of years ago, we had an organist, I believe his name was Marshall. Marshall would play hymns on the organ while people were coming in before the service started. I once asked him to play "In The Garden". That is one of my favorites and it is not in the Lutheran hymnal. Marshall told me he could tell my background because it was an old Baptist and Methodist hymn. Anyway, from that day on, he would always play it for me if he spotted me coming in. I've told Sharon that it is one of the two songs I want played at my funeral. The other is "I'll Fly Away". I believe that is a black gospel song, but I am not sure of the origin. I like "Amazing Grace" too, but everyone has that played at their funeral. I guess that Sharon can hold my funeral in a closet because I don't think there will be many people there.

Comments:
That's really cool that the organist plays your hymn when you walk in! I guess our church is too extravagant by your standards.... ;) I really would prefer to go to your same church, but I couldn't pass up getting Joelle into a church with lots of kid programs.
 
Petie, I am not saying that you should go to a smaller, less affluent church. I am saying that I prefer the church I attend. I am comfortable there. I like the Pastor and think he has very good sermons. You are looking at a totally different set of requirements than I am. I trust your Judgment

I don't think that what is best for me is necessarily best for anybody else. My point was that I do not feel that religion is under attack in this country. Obviously, I failed miserable at that.
 
I'll have to look up "In the Garden". I like "I'll Fly Away" and "Amazing Grace".
 
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