Thursday, September 22, 2011


Nighean gheal is going through Confirmation.

Confirmation, for those of you not in the know, is a process (also known as reaffirmation of baptism) in at least the Lutheran and Catholic denominations in which the catechumen (fancy Latin word for "person being catechized") in instructed in the fundamentals of the faith.

Us being Lutheran and all, we have the benefit of having two documents already laid out for us: The Small Catechism with Questions (by Dr. Martin Luther) and Luther's Large Catechism (again, by Dr. Martin Luther). The process where we are is a two year, alternating Sunday program in which they study the sacraments (for Lutherans, Baptism and Communion), the Ten Commandments, the Apostle's Creed and other articles of the Faith.

It's interesting to me, both because of the fact that it reminds me of my own confirmation (now 30 years past) and as a re-grounding (as it were of my own faith) - I don't know that I can expect my own daughter to memorize things that I myself will also not memorize.

It also brings a bit into thought the whole process of how we treat converts and deal with our faith.

I've the advantage of coming out of both the mainline Protestant movement and the non-denominational movement. Both have strengths - the power of structure of one, often the power of enthusiasm and energy and adherence to the gospels. Both have weaknesses - the confinement of structure and dead orthodoxy of one, the potential of no authority and misguided teaching with other.

In either case, the reality is that Christianity is not just a visceral emotional reaction or feeling, it's also an intellectual framework of what we believe, how it functions in relation to the world in which we live, and how we accept, acknowledge and incorporate these truths into our daily lives.

What is baptism? What does it do? What is Communion? What are the differences in how Protestants and Catholics and Orthodox believers approach it, and what does that say about how we interpret the Bible? It's questions such as these, perhaps not the primary fundamental of Salvation but the not unimportant Tier 2 fundamentals of what we believe and why we believe it, that tend to nag me in odd moments.

Many children - my own included - can tell me everything about the world of Harry Potter. Can they tell me equally about their Christian Faith and the fundamentals of it? And what does that say of us as church - not that we should not participate in the world around us, but that we can treat the important matters of faith as not as important?

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