Tuesday, April 02, 2013

The Sunday Funnies

Easter just passed and then April Fool's day, but winter is still hanging around.  Maple sugaring is slow and late this year, too.

When I was a child, I used to go to church with my family.  During my grade-school years we went often, but we weren't regulars.  In her youth, my mother had been well steeped in fundamentalism and harbored a somewhat weakened but nonetheless tenacious fear of what happens to non-believers in The Afterlife.  Church was a quiet accommodation my agnostic father made for her.  I liked the music, especially Mrs. DeWispelaere's and Mrs. Deuel's voices, and I actually have fond, though now somewhat wry memories of pretty pastel dresses and white gloves and the holy, righteous feeling that everyone had on Easter Sunday after the singing of "Christ the Lord is Risen Today" and the minister's final blessing.

If age teaches you anything, it is that things change.  As far as I know, the same hymns are being sung in celebration of The Resurrection, and the same holy righteous feelings are being felt by the believers today, but the Easter bonnets and white gloves are gone.  What's "gone" is less interesting than what seems to have been added.

My grandson visited on Sunday afternoon and was eager to tell us the "joke" told earlier in the day from the Methodist pulpit:  The kids in Sunday School were asked if they wanted to go to Heaven.  There was a chorus of enthusiastic eagerness - with one lone exception.  "Johnny," asked the teacher, "don't YOU want to go to heaven?"  Johnny thought for a couple of seconds, then replied, "I'd like to, but my mom said I have to come straight home after church."

Meanwhile, according to a friend, the Unitarian Universalists a couple of blocks away were also yucking it up:  During Sunday School, the teacher asks the class, "Can you tell us what happened on Easter?"  One kid responds, "Easter is when Jesus was born."  Another (in good U.U. form) insisted that Easter is when the flowers bloom.  Finally, one very precocious kid says, "Easter is the day when, after he had been crucified and then placed in a tomb, on the third day, Jesus rolled back the stone... Then he walked outside and saw his shadow, so we have six more weeks of winter."

And so, I imagine that the faithful Methodists left the church with that same good feeling I once had, albeit with a chuckle rather than a sort of momentary piety.  The U.U's, on the other hand, gained a better understanding of why this winter just won't go away.


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