Twenty-three years ago this month, we had our babies baptized. I grew up Baptist and we were taught that baptism didn’t count unless you were old enough to decide for yourself and then got immersed completely, like water-up-your-nose dunked.
Now I’m mostly Presbyterian and in that version of Christianity, babies can be baptized and they don’t have to be dunked or aware of what’s going on. It’s a symbol, a sign, of belonging to God, of the parents giving them back in a way (though you still have to get up for night feedings yourself). And maybe something happens in the spiritual realm when this ritual, or transaction of sorts, occurs, but we don’t really know, because we’re all taking our best guess anyway. Sure, there are theologians we can quote, and when Jesus was baptized a booming voice spoke and the spirit of God came down onto Jesus somehow looking like a bird, so something was going on with that one, but that was Jesus, and nowadays, we generally don’t get booming voices, whether we get our noses filled or our heads “sprinkled.” (It’s more like pouring a cup of water over the head. Sprinkling was more in fashion during water shortages.) Really, what it all means and what happens can only be understood from our own interpretation of things. We can’t get away from that.
There are a lot of different perspectives of what’s right and what doesn’t work and what counts. So I guess I could put forth an argument about why I think what I do, but why? I’m not going to convince someone who thinks differently from me to change their mind. And I don’t even want to. There are a lot of teachings and Bible verses that can be used to support either way or somewhere in between. We all see things, including our faith practices, through our own lenses which have been created by our experiences. I wish everyone could realize how impacted our perception of life and God is by who we are and where we’ve been and what we’ve experienced. I’m just glad to know that whoever God is, God is big enough to deal with all of us, whatever viewpoint we come from.
In my Chloe trilogy, my divine being is called They, and They is always singular, as in They is this or They says that. Noun and verb agreement doesn’t work. We don’t have enough choices in our language. They is plural, as in complex, as in multifaceted, as in we can’t really wrap our brains around it no matter how hard we try. It’s from another dimension beyond ours. So we can just try, but will always fall short. They is also singular, because together somehow They is one. Again, beyond our brain and language. Also, in Chloe I never use gender pronouns with They, because I don’t want to assign gender. Both men and women come from God, so God includes all masculinity and all femininity. And I rather not call They “it.” That’d just be weird.
So anyway, the kids were baptized. It was a good day because our family gathered and we celebrated the fact that we even had the kids and we participated in a ritual, a sacrament, a ceremony, that let us publically express that we were thankful, and we believe they were and are a gift from They.
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