Thursday, June 2, 2016

Saint Paul's Cathedral Is A Not Catholic Church?!

You could've fooled me. But I wouldn't know the difference anyway. I grew up Wesleyan. Ironically, visiting the Church of England was, in a sense, me going back (way back) to my roots. Wesleyans branched from the Church of England 250ish years ago. So there you have it, I'm not English by race but as someone indoctrinated by the Wesleyan faith, I have more roots in England than just being American.

A bit more on Wesleyans:
They are literalists: people who believe that the stories they read in the bible happened exactly as they are written: Mary's conception was miraculous, Jesus walked on water and rose from the dead, God made the heavens and the Earth in 6 days, resting on the 7th. You get the idea. So along with literal translation, my faith of origin is also fairly conservative. We weren't allowed to dance, date, gay people got kicked out of the church, and so did divorcees. If you smoke or drank you were looked down upon. If you were rambunctious and outspoken you were looked down upon (me). You can probably tell that I never fit in. When I was 14-years-old I came out to my family that I liked both boys and girls. My parents and brothers behaved according to our faith. I was not just a homosexual (dirty word in our household), I was a pedophile that would burn in hell someday. Here's my moment with literalism: my parents literally called me a pedophile for liking girls and they literally yelled (more like screamed) that I would burn in hell for just being me - I am not exaggerating. It wasn't fun and it still hurts. I have to consciously practice love and acceptance towards my parents when I remember that time in my life, otherwise I turn into an angry 15-year-old and want to lash out at them. Religious persecution runs both ways. And trauma runs deep.

So, enough of that. It's my preface to this: me stepping into a church during a scheduled church service is a big deal. I don't do it lightly. I don't do it regularly and I definitely don't do it for my mother, but the allure to "spectacle" runs deep within me and I wouldn't have missed it! After all, my preteen and teenage years were drenched in fantastic spectacle: an overdose on OTC pills, failing half my classes, getting kicked out of school, multiple suicide attempts - the list goes on. And yet, after all the dust settled, I genuinely enjoy learning about religions. That's karma for me.

So, Saint Paul's cathedral is not a catholic church. I know that now. I didn't the day of. It is incredibly grandiose. I've never set foot in such an old structure. The only other cathedral I have been inside is Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles. And OLA carries it's own spectacle, although it's very modern. The windows are alabaster slates. The speakers are golden trumpets suspended from the hugely vaulted ceiling. Most of California's friars were exhumed then entombed in OLA's catacombs. Everything is flat, stone. Precise and cold. Saint Paul's Cathedral is not flat inside. There is a lot of stone and it definitely has a coldness to it because it's so vast but there's warmth in the wood and in the colours reflecting shining the light through the stained glass. And there's warmth in the smile of the President. She made everything about the experience feel very loving and inclusive. I was astonished. She even alluded to television. There was nothing old or dying about her presence. I was impressed and felt blessed just being around her.

I actually really loved this cineTrek. As I get older many places of worship that used to freak me out feel safe now, like a womb. In this case, I'd have to say the cathedral itself did not feel like a womb, it's too big and ornate, but the president with her warmth and lightness was. Like a mother, just waiting to hug me and welcome me home.

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