Thursday, April 13, 2006

I baptize thee in the name of...whatever

From an article on the decline in the number of baptisms in USA Today.
There are now baptism-style ceremonies where God is never mentioned by parents seeking to initiate their children into a world of all faiths, says Ema Drouillard of San Francisco, who runs the website

She conducted such an event for Kirsten and Farnum Alston of Marin County, Calif., for their baby, Greer, in 1998. "We just wanted a larger spirit to guide our daughter, but we didn't want to get specific. I wanted all her bases covered," says Kirsten Alston. The couple grew up Presbyterian, but now "we just do Christianity L-I-T-E" for Greer, who "believes in angels and fairies, leprechauns and Santa Claus."

Marin County; where else?

“Baptism-style ceremonies where God is never mentioned.” What’s the big deal? I’ve had to sit through plenty of church services where God is barely mentioned. I once suggested taking down the silly cross from over the altar and putting up a big mirror so we could see whom we were actually worshipping. (Sorry - that’s too snarky for Holy Week. Mea maxima culpa.)

Even if I were not Christian and just wanted “a larger spirit to guide my daughter,” I think I’d at least have some interest in just what kind of spirit I was invoking. I am always amazed at the unspoken assumption that most “spiritual” people seem to adopt unawares – namely, the assumption that all “spirits” are somehow equivalent. Just because you are in touch with the “spiritual,” why do you assume that that the spirit you’re in touch with is actually good?

I also have a question. If you “just do Christianity L-I-T-E," do you wind up finding “salvation L-I-T-E?” Lite religion is like lite beer – less filling, tastes bad. Why bother? Hundreds of thousands of mainline American Protestants have asked that question, come up empty, and either switched to the real thing or just quit drinking entirely.