Tale of Three Churches

Solange and I try to go to church once a week, but to be honest it’s been a chore because we have had nothing but bad and bizarre church experiences in 2007. One weird event after another. Sometimes, it makes you wonder whether it is all worthwhile. Here’s a tale of three churches.

Saint Andrews Catholic Church, Myrtle Beach, SC. Solange was born and raised a Catholic. It was a pleasant surprise that they have a Brazilian Catholic church in Myrtle Beach. We went to check it out, and the church was new, big and clean. Plus, everyone was from Brazil and spoke portuguese. It helped Solange make the adjustment to the United States.

One night we were driving back from mass, and Solange asked me whether I was listening to the sermon. Honestly, I usually space out the portuguese sermon. She explained to me that the Padre was railing on Americans. The sermon was that Americans are arrogant and selfish. Pretty strange thing to say to a group of Brazilians living in the US.

Up to that point, I had been giving generously to the church, but given this sermon, I decided to cut way back. About a month later, the padre gave a very different sermon. He explained that the church was really struggling financially now, and that everyone needed to contribute. It all seems ironic now.

Myrtle Beach Community Church. This is the largest church in Myrtle Beach and I have been attending for over 6 years. The church has been undergoing a major change in leadership and the main pastor moved to a new guy. His preaching style is much different than what I had been used to. I can give an example.

He was preaching that people were essentially one of two colors, red or yellow. He had two large stage spotlights, one red and the other yellow. But he argued that God did not want any of us to be red or yellow, but He wants us to be orange. At this point, the two spotlights come together, and the two colors unite to become orange. Now, he starts getting excited and waving his hands. “God wants us to be orange. Make a promise to yourself to no longer be red or yellow. God loves orange. Bright, bright orange.”

My head was reeling. Many of his sermons made no sense to me. As I already documented here, I went to jail trying to get some medical records. Guess what color are the prison uniforms? ORANGE. Now when I think of jail, I think of Myrtle Beach Community Church.

Catholic Mass, Rio de Janeiro. Just like at Myrtle Beach Community Church, our Catholic church in Rio is undergoing a change in leadership. We decided in December 2007 to have Teddy baptized. In order to do a Catholic baptism, the parents, the godmother and the godfather must go through a short half day course on baptism. Teddy’s godmother is Solange’s mother, and his godfather is Augusto Matos, my good friend here in Brazil.

We woke up early and attend the class. During the class, Augusto decided to be baptized also. He shared his wish with the teachers of the class, and they were excited, as was Solange and I. Catholic rules were just that Augusto had to be baptized before Teddy. Cool.

The class continued, and suddenly the head padre ran into the room nervously. He explained to the class, that he has been advised of a situation. He had an enormous key chain, and he jangled it nervously as he spoke. Now that he was in charge, it would now be a requirement that if over the age of 16 years old, one had to complete a one year course to be baptized. This was all happening quickly and in portuguese.

My gut said that something was wrong and I confirmed that Augusto could no longer be the godfather and Teddy could not be baptized. We also confirmed that prior to this event, it was common for a godfather to request to be baptized. Furthermore, all the other Catholic churches in Rio would allow a baptism without a one year course.

We decided to baptize Teddy anyways, and Augusto attended but is not the godfather in the eyes of God. But in my eyes, he is the godfather.