We attended the baptism of my friend’s son today. None of us were particularly enthusiastic about going, but it seemed to be really important to my friend (which surprised me, considering the fact that he’s an avowed agnostic).
The last time I was attended church was a Midnight Mass some four or five years ago*. My family was never Catholic, but my brother and I both attended Catholic school until college, so that’s the kind of church that I’m most familiar with.
This Catholic church was unlike any other that I had ever attended. Unlike the churches of my youth, which were predominantly white, this one had an entirely black choir and a 99% black congregation. The priest was white, but he was very much in the minority. There was one mural depicting a black Jesus as well as another one depicting a black Mary and Joseph holding a little brown baby. There were two different sets of the stations of the cross on the walls; one that had obviously been a part of the original architecture (white Jesus) and one that looked much newer (black Jesus). The stained glass windows all featured nothing but white saints and Jesuses and children.
It was pretty cool, actually, to be in a church with a fair representation of other-than-white religious figures. The vast majority of churches I have been in, including the ones with predominantly black congregations, only feature white Jesuses. It was a nice change.
Eve was about as well-behaved as a toddler can be in a room full of loud energetic strangers. I nursed her and she did everything she could to expose my entire breast to the whole church. She babbled loudly and asked for more cheerios (too bad we didn’t have any). She accidentally hit a stranger while flailing around in my brother’s arms. She did wonderfully, I think.
It being a baptism, the homily was about the responsibility of parents to raise their children to know God. I only half-listened, and did what I always do in church – marvel at the architecture. I tried not to think about what the people around me would say if they knew that Marcus and I were non-believers, and that were raising our daughter as one too.
All in all, it was an all right way to spend an early Sunday afternoon. The possibility of regularly attending a Unitarian Universalist church crossed my mind again; I do really love the community aspect of church attendance, even if I disagree vehemently with the dogma. I’m very much still building a village for my child, and even as an atheist I haven’t ruled out the possibility of adding the right congregation to that village.
*Edited to add: I just realized that the last time was actually when I was heavily pregnant with Eve; I attended my friend’s wedding, which was fascinating to me as I’d never seen a Catholic wedding service.