CHURCH REVIEWS??

I was listening to public radio in the car the other day when an essay came on about a new trend on the internet. When people who are church goers are moving from time to time or town to town they can look up the local churches on these web sites. Now these are not the web sites of the actual churches, these are “comment” web sites where anyone can leave a review. This is a weird concept, to say the least. It is weird on a lot of levels. My first and most visceral response to this is the idea that you would choose a house of worship by going on line. I mentioned this to an acquaintance who said that it might eliminate some and make the search easier. I even think that is weird. In some fundamental way, a house of worship is not just a spiritual home but also a family of a sort. To me, it is the sort of thing that you have to experience; first hand. Your immediate actual family you don’t get to choose, the other families you create throughout your life, you do. How do you choose a family without meeting them, hugging them, laughing and crying with them? At least you might want to have a sense of them, a real sense, not a virtual sense. How do you find a spiritual home without praying in it, listening to its leaders, its clergy? But ok, let’s assume you don’t mind finding your spiritual house on the net. On the show I listened to (at least one side of the story) they talked about what a great service this could be, making transitions for folks moving, with an emphasis on military families. What credibility do these “reviews” have? Who are the reviewers? What if the writer is someone with a personal ax to grind against a particular clergy person, or institution? Or its lay leaders? What if the writer is a hater of a particular religion? And regularly spews hate on the local representatives of it? How do you choose a religious home, or a spiritual family based on the opinion of strangers? The show likens the choice to that of choosing a hairdresser, grocery, family doctor, mechanic, etc. While I am certainly not likely to denigrate the importance of the right hairdresser, I’m thinking that the choice of a religious institution might be slightly more important, especially if you are a parent (keeping in mind that your kids really don’t care about your hair). If you are religious in the sense that you look to your house of worship to reinforce your core values and help you teach them to your kids; to create that “family” that acts as extended rold models for your kids, then its influence may extend beyond even that of the family doc in the long view of things. Do you really think it makes sense to allow anonymous (ok they might put their names) folks with their own agendas to drive this decision? Maybe you should choose your dentist on facebook.

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Personal Earthquakes

At 6:30 a.m. my teenager is standing over my barely awake self saying “mom”, “mom”.  At the 8th or 10th repetition, it finally gets through.  I open one eye… “WHAT”, I say.  Take a wild guess .. . he needs money. Check written, personal SAT earthquake, the first of the day, averted.  The teenager leaves and the caregiver for my dad arrives.  “He’s been really bad” she says.  What she means is that he has been cranky and annoying with her because she is annoying and it is wearing on him.  Of course he is also generally cranky and annoying.  Nevertheless, she is having a personal crisis of insecurity because my father, who has alzheimer’s disease among other things, is cranky.  This is her life’s work, you would think she would be used to old folks and their ups and downs but no… she takes everything personally.  So I, coffee cup in hand, dressed in half my work clothes (top half and panties, very attractive) have to stop and soothe her feelings.  For this I am paying her a pretty penny.  For her money she will spend most of the rest of the day playing Farmville and avoiding my dad.  Second personal earthquake survived, for now.  Finally I get the rest of my uniform on manage to get out the door with my purse, briefcase, lunch and various items that will require me to stop on my way home or at lunch at an assortment of establishments.  Everything gets thrown in the back seat before I drop it in the driveway, third personal earthquake of the day averted; and the most peaceful part of the day begins… the ride to work.  I love the ride to work, public radio and I only have to answer the phone if I like the person on the other end.  Upon arrival at work there are a variety of faux crises awaiting me, they are averted but don’t really count as a person earthquake, more like a minor tremor.  The fourth personal earthquake of the day isn’t really avoided when I lose my temper with an unutterably rude co-worker.  This is an ongoing and cumulative earthquake.  I am generally able to let it slide, sometimes it just blows so one personal earthquake marginally survived.  The day progresses with an unusual level of idiocy but finally ends.  My second favorite time of day, the ride home; public radio and I only call the people I like and only if I feel like it.  I arrive home and teenager, husband and father are practically lined up (not literally) waiting to ask “what’s for dinner”.  Instead of saying “I don’t know, what is for dinner”, I manage to figure out what will be for dinner, read mail, listen to voicemail and balance my father’s checkbook all at the same time.  That counts as a personal earthquake averted for him.  My fifth comes as dinner is finally on the table at about 8:30 p.m. and I’m not sure if that counts as avoided, averted or barely survived.  At this point the teenager has eaten so much snack that he is no longer hungry, I am too tired to be hungry; but my dad and my husband eat like hungry lions.  Finally back in a shirt and panties I have to check on my dad’s computer (he has pushed the same wrong key for the 1407th time), explain when his long term care insurance check is going to come and why there are “black boxes” on his tv screen (our cable company has started putting up the phone number when sometime calls the house, he cannot fathom this).  I will consider this my sixth personal earthquake of the day survived and the infrastructure rebuilt, ready for a new day.  I fall into bed with a little mindless tv, answer e-mail, check facebook, get annoyed by the stupidity and finally, finally, fall asleep.  I am ready for tomorrow’s earthquakes.

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