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Saturday, February 21, 2004

'Friends' gets religion.

My friend Dan handed me the title for this post in the message he sent me a few days ago about the New York Times article, "Hip New Churches Pray to a Different Drummer," which unlike everyone else I've only just read. (Very busy week!) I'm not quite sure what to make of it: I was never cool to begin with and can't imagine wanting to go to church almost exclusively with guys with soul patches or Matrix-style leather jackets, like the Southern Baptist missionary to Manhattan mentioned in another Times article last week. (What distinguishes "emerging church" women, by the way? Would I recognize them walking to the "cultural creatives" church on Prospect Street?)

I'll be honest. When I was 14, I was excited about pipe-organ recitals in honor of J.S. Bach's tricentennial. In fact, I joined the Unitarian church in Salt Lake City when I was a college student in part because the organist frequently played Bach preludes. I'm hopeless. Somehow I doubt "Spirit Garage" is up my alley. But I admire the willingness of these overly self-conscious "emerging churches" to experiment, to speak in a language that seems to reach a lot of young people with a fresh immediacy, and to reach beyond the presentism of American evangelicalism (and religious liberalism!) for connections to ancient and Orthodox practices.

I have simply never wanted to stick with my generational cohort at church. I know I'm weird on this point, but church is one of the places where I've felt liberated from being or acting my age. When I was in college, teaching Sunday School was important because I missed being around young children. Adult religious education classes were important to me because I missed being around older adults. Helping to organize a young adult group was one of the most important things I did in that church — because there weren't any other college students there at all, and that was a problem — but I don't think I'd ever join St. Monica and St. Chandler's Church.

Copyright © 2004 by Philocrites | Posted 21 February 2004 at 10:25 AM

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