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.
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.
Bellevue is a bit off my beaten path, and I wouldn’t come over to the east side for just any church. But the only other Baha’i devotionals near me in Seattle happen in peoples’ homes, and I’m not comfortable going to someone’s house, especially if I’m going to write about it later. A house is a private setting, and my blog isn’t a private thing.
So, for the Baha’i, I’ve made an exception and I trundled over the bridge to visit them.
Unfortunately, I don’t yet have enough information about their services to make a proper review. Like the minyon I attended at Beth Shalom, this is just a prayer service, and not a full-on worship service.
In fact, they really don’t have full-on worship services. They have events, about every 19 days or so (they have a 19 day month on their calendar), that involves a speaker. So I’m going to go to one of those in the hopes that it’s close enough to a sermon that I can write about it and give them a score.
I can’t properly review a Catholic communion because I’m not a believer, and if I did take communion, it would really irritate the Catholics. More than irritate them, it would be a violation of holy law, so it would likely deeply offend them.
Now, I don’t mind irritating people, or even offending them, but only when they deserve it. They don’t deserve it, so unless and until I start believing in saints, I’m never going to taste Catholic Jesus.
Fortunately, there’s a solution at hand. A nice Catholic named Tarah has sent me a review! And I can pass it on to you. Here it is:
Catholic Jesus doesn’t taste that great. It’s a whole wheat wafer. The wine isn’t that tasty either; it’s box Gallo, probably. Go eat a Carr’s water cracker and some Franzia that’s been sitting out for an hour. I’m telling you this, because out of all the churches you were at, a Catholic church is probably the single one at which you would most hurt some feels if you eat and drink some Jesus if you aren’t Catholic. Do as you see fit; it’s not going to change the state of your soul or mine, bro. Just saying. I wouldn’t go out of your way for the culinary experience. There’s not even any brie.