After a nice long hiatus, I’m back! And I’m still doubting.
The church I went to this morning was, as usual, within walking distance of my home. So close, in fact, that it’s only a few blocks away, in the funky “downtown” section of Greenwood. If you’ve ever been to Seattle, you probably know that the city is a patchwork collection of neighborhoods each with their own character, some of which used to be cities in their own right before being absorbed. Most of these neighborhoods have a “downtown” area.
Downtown Greenwood is filled with shops, apartments, offices, restaurants and way more coffee shops than you’d think one neighborhood could handle. But this is Seattle, after all, and coffee is kind of what we do here.
This particular church owns its own coffee shop, a non-profit called The Green Bean, which has been in the neighborhood in one place or another for about four or five years. And while they own a coffee shop, this church doesn’t own a church. They meet in a local theater, the Taproot.
You’ll notice I have links to a few blogs in the blogroll to the right, and there are a few of those that I find particularly noteworthy that I wanted to call a little attention to. Not all of them are church, or religion related, and some are maintained by friends of mine.
Ed’s Photodoodle Blog is a great site from a creative photographer friend, showcasing his talents. Also, he likes to rant about religious people who make him angry, and so if you like a good rant, visit his Two She Bears blog.
Cameron is a fellow who just found my blog and let me know that he visits churches and writes about it too! It’s a good read.
Pastor John McLarty is a Seattle-based Seventh Day Adventist pastor who I met for coffee after reviewing his church and had a great conversation with. He’s just about the only liberal Seventh Day Adventist you’ll ever hear about. He’s also a really nice guy. His blog is here.
Chris Owens is a former Methodist pastor who has recently been promoted from preaching to supervising and helping other preachers. I’ve never met him in person, but we have mutual Facebook friends, and when it comes to religious arguments, he’s really kept me on my toes. His blog is here.
If you want to visit Alaska, or just want to read about it, an old High School buddy of mine can give you some advice with his blog.
And finally, my favorite teacher in the whole world, who I haven’t been face to face with in over 30 years, writes about her childhood in California. It’s a fun and interesting read.
There will be more church-stuff this weekend!
Well, it’s been a few weeks, I’ve been enjoying my summer, and a little break from posting on the blog, but now I’m back at it.
Yesterday morning, my girlfriend and I went up to Shoreline, just north of Seattle, to visit a Catholic church. I’ve already done a Catholic church, but that one was only a Thursday morning mass, not the full show, and so I’ve been wanting to go to another Catholic church for a while. This one is near a friend’s house, and we were invited up to breakfast after the service, and so it was a good excuse to make the trip. Not that the trip was very far. Shoreline is the city immediately north of Seattle, and we live in the northern part of the city, so it was actually fairly close.
So, a little personal history here before I dive in: I’m a former Freemason. I haven’t been active in a few years, in part because I decided it was okay to be an atheist, and atheists can’t be Masons. Previously, I had identified myself as a deist, and sort of believed in the possibility of a God, but when that changed, I no longer had the qualities required to remain a Mason.
Why am I mentioning this? Because Aleister Crowley, also a former Freemason, had joined OTO and sort of transformed it with his own beliefs and rituals, and he allegedly included a lot of masonic stuff in there. Knowing this, I’ve always been really curious about the OTO. Presumably, the first, second, and third degrees of OTO are the same as the ones in Masonry. I’ll never know for sure, because I don’t intend to join and go through their degrees. I’m just going to go to their public rituals.
This means that it’s not likely that I’ll be able to give them a score. But given what I think I know about their degrees, they’d probably score pretty highly on my humanist scale.
Last week, I had a little trouble because I was improperly dressed. Not wanting to make the same mistake twice, this morning I put on some nice slacks, a nice button-down shirt, and a tweed jacket. I didn’t put on a tie, nor did I put on my dress shoes, opting for black sneakers instead. So I guess my manner of dress would be somewhere between “business” and “business casual.”
Turns out putting the sneakers on was a good idea. Not only because I walked a little over a mile to the church, but also because you don’t sit down during an orthodox service. You stand.
Like last time, I went to the front door, and like last time, it was locked. I guess they’re not used to people walking up to their front door. The back door, which opens off of their parking lot and into a common area with a kitchen and tables, was open. There was a lady there pulling stuff out of her car, and I stopped to help, grabbing a box of cups and bringing it into the kitchen for her.
My morning began a little too early. I had friends over last night, and I’m afraid there was both whiskey and beer involved, and this fact made my six hours of sleep a little less productive than I might otherwise like. I managed to crawl out of bed and into a large french press full of coffee, which helped my mood considerably, but I was hardly at my best. I needed a shave, I probably needed a shower, but mostly I needed the proper attitude to care about these two things.
I threw on some clothes, and started on the 1.1 mile walk to the Orthodox church. The walk turned out to be very therapeutic, and after a while I began to feel a lot better. On the way there, since I was very early, I walked through the Oak Tree Shopping Center, where the Epic Life Church meets in a theater. Even though it was more than three hours before their services started, the theater doors were unlocked, and there was activity within.
I turned in my library book this morning, and I was told that I could not progress further because I am not a believer.
Which I guess is understandable. They don’t like the idea that I’m blogging about it, and they don’t like the fact that I don’t believe in it and that I’m really not likely to start believing in it any time soon.
I will say that the conversation I had this morning was a nice one, perhaps a bit tense at times, but pleasant enough. I don’t think I’ve ever been told to buzz off as nicely as I was this morning. I did feel like the person talking to me was genuinely concerned, not just for his church, but for me as well. We parted on, I think, reasonably congenial terms.
So, no score for the Saint Germain Foundation.
From my reading and my conversations, I don’t get a sense that they support going out into the community and “doing good” in the sense that they actively participate in things, so I think my humanist score for them would probably not be very high in any event. And there’s a chance there’s something in there that I might find harmful.
They went out of their way to tell me that there is no cost associated with any of the seminars and services the church offers. But their history is one of a church where the parishioners are not just encouraged to give money, but actually encouraged to give up all of their worldly treasures. And, there was a recurring theme of hoarded treasure in the book. Whether they still do that or not, I just don’t know. I was looking for evidence of it.
I didn’t find it, but my search has been cut short.
Their focus on the self, on attaining a sort of enlightenment and ascendancy might well have generated a positive score from me. Being good to one’s self is one of my criteria.
So, their hypothetical score range would be from -1 to 1. That’s the best I can do for now.
Maybe someone who’s been a member of the Saint Germain Foundation can add to this.
Chapter Seven is entitled, The Secret Valley.
In his home, King receives a letter telling him to go to an address in Arizona. So he does, sensing instantly that the letter indicates that there is some higher purpose in store. When he gets to the address, a man answers the door, and after shaking hands, King realizes that this man is very strong with The Force. I mean, he is also a follower of The Light.
The man isn’t named, but since I don’t want to keep referring to him as “the man,” I’m going to call him Willie. Willie has an amazing story to tell. Here it is:
Some time ago, Willie’s son (I’m going to call him “Junior”) disappeared when he was only five years old. Willie and his wife (whom I will call “Wilma”) looked everywhere, and tried everything they could think of to find Junior, but alas, they never did. After a few years, Wilma had grown sick from worry, and died.
Wilma, at her request, was laid in a vault for five days, and then was set to be cremated. However, on the fifth day, her body disappeared. Willie was astonished and heartbroken. Some years later, Willie got a letter telling him to go to a certain spot in the desert, and there he would find his wife and son. He didn’t believe it, so Wilma called out to him with a magic Sonic Ray and told him she was fine. Willie still didn’t believe it, rather sensibly thinking he might have started to go crazy. So Wilma opened a magic tunnel using Light Rays and Skyped with him. This convinced Willie (who didn’t think that this was crazy in the least), and so he set out on a journey to find them.