I was born to a Catholic mother and a Jewish father. They had both abandoned their official traditions before they met, although to me it was always clear that they lived within the metaphors and values they’d learned in their childhoods. And my father was broad-minded enough to agree to raise my brother and me in the Catholic church, as that’s what was required to be able to marry in the church, which my mother wanted to do. They didn’t take us to church much, however, and I as a pre-teen wanted very much to join a church, to “know God”, so I chose one of my own.
The church of my late childhood and adolescence was All Saints Episcopal church in Winter Park, Florida. I sang in its choir, attended its youth group, was confirmed there and worshipped there every Sunday morning. It was a “high” Episcopal church, with incense, communion every Sunday, traditional hymns and services read from the Book of Common Prayer. I was not particularly theologically inclined at that time, but the church helped me make my life work. I felt held and cared for by that church and its people even after I left home for college in New England.
I am sure that imprint has stayed with me in my adult search for deeper and more sophisticated understandings of God and for a place in which I could exercise my joy in worship, song and prayer. Had I been raised in the Jewish tradition, I’d probably find deep meaning in the stories and rituals of that set of metaphors. Had I been raised as a Muslim, I’d probably find deep meaning in those stories and rituals. Digging deep into the Christian tradition at King’s Chapel allows me to travel on my spiritual journey- reading and hearing its stories, parables and metaphors over and over again, following the church year in the Lectionary, understanding that the New Testament only makes any sense in relation to the Old Testament, feeling both confined and freed by an ordered worship service, guided by a Prayer Book so familiar from my past.
I’ve been interested for much of my adult life in theology, the many concepts of God, the intersection of spirituality and psychology (as I am a psychologist), how to understand sin and salvation, how to understand the vast differences in the ways people find and make meaning in their lives. It’s an ongoing and fascinating work. God, for me, is an eternal mystery, and Jesus is a “finger pointing to the mystery” (to quote The Rev. Carl Scovel). I pray to God and find help, meaning, understanding and pleasure in this act. I find I cannot pray to a theory or an abstraction, and that my prayers work and I am changed only when I have a personal relationship to a personal God. It’s a metaphor which really works for me.
Faith is by definition not reasonable, as love is not, and cannot be obtained through reason. Philosophers have tried and failed. Reason is a wonderful tool for analysis and for “thinking through” the logic and science of assertions. The Enlightenment was great for rooting out the superstition and its terrible sequelae from religious assertions of the time. A sad unintended consequence of that same rooting out is the suspicion with which imagination, metaphor, and faith in the unseen and unknowable have been regarded since that time. Kierkegaard’s “leap of faith” is a favorite image of mine. At King’s Chapel, feeling free to explore, question and revise my thinking within the repeated ritual of the Anglican liturgy allows me to take a “plunge of faith” over and over again.
For all of the above unreasons, I feel comfortable saying I’m an Anglican at King’s Chapel.
Statements of Religious Belief
In the spring of 2015, six parishioners of King’s Chapel wrote statements about their personal religious beliefs that were published in Between Sundays in conjunction with the Sunday Forums on “The Religion of King’s Chapel – A Living Legacy.” The forums were a series of lectures on three major religious roots: Anglican, Unitarian, and Independent. The lectures were given by the Reverend Dr. Carl Scovel, Dr. Daniel McKanan, and the Reverend Joy Fallon (recordings of the lectures are posted on the KC website under Education). The statements of religious belief were produced by Denton Crews, Julie Hyde, Louise Perkins, Charles Perry, and Peter Sexton.