Thursday, January 7, 2010

On Tuesday, I started the Christian Education course I mentioned a few weeks ago, in hopes of broadening my knowledge of stuff. It was a bitter cold night and I almost talked myself out of it, but finally argued (again, to myself) that something interesting might happen if I left the apartment, whereas for certain nothing would if I stayed in. So, I bundled up and set forth and made my way to the third floor of the midtown parish building, which route afforded a good view of libraries and parlors and other neo-Gothic spaces. The room where the class is held was itself quite aggressively Gothic - it reminded me of college, what with the paneling and the mullioned ceiling. Above the line of paneling were hung a series of portraits of clergymen in vestments of varying degrees of opulence and naturally the room was lit with heavy, iron many-bulbed fixtures. For all this, though, it wasn't very impressive or attractive because the flourescent lighting was very harsh and because we were seated in concentric circles of the sort of tweedy padded blond wood chair that I associate with college dorm rooms. The lector, who proved to be the Church theologian, was a thin, ascetic-looking person with a neat beard over his minister's collar and a clipped, precise voice such as one hears in old movies sometimes. He handed us all forms to fill out, asking us to give our names and reasons for attending, which I was loath to do as it would reveal me to be a dilettante who wasn't interested in Baptism or Reception, and I'd hoped to slip under the radar.

He opened the class with a prayer, which suprised me for some reason. Then he launched into a discussion of creation. It quickly became clear that this would not be a mere lecture, but rather a seminar, for quickly people began raising their hands and alternately pontificating or asking questions in the usual numbers. There were about 20 people in the room - a few the minister seemed to know, and I guessed they were regular parishoners just taking a refresher course. A few were very well-dressed single men. There were a few couples; I wondered if they were getting married and joining the church together. The man next to me had tiny hands and beautiful, intricate shoes with a high cordovan gloss. The lecture portions were interesting, and the minister referenced one of my favorite cookbooks, The Supper of the Lamb, which I found deeply reassuring. He also had neat, Anglican answers for things like literal interpretation of the Bible (A day is a rotation of the sun; God doesn't even invent the sun until day #4, therefore there's nothing for it but to take it symbolically) and miracles (a miracle's a unique refutation of scientific law; science by definition studies repeated phenomena; therefore the two have nothing to do with one another) and stated that those who sought to interpret such things literally were prey, sadly, to "unfortunate misunderstanding." You needn't fear that I'll recap every class, because I won't, but suffice it to say that there was a good deal more argument than I'd anticipated, and there were enough things referenced that I didn't feel a complete ass asking a question that involved Kirkegaard. There was, of course, a bore who raised her hand every ten seconds and droned on about nothing much, and I thought the minister was much too nice to her. There was another woman who fidgeted, picked at her nails audibly, chortled to herself and periodically rested her face on her breasts and went to sleep. Then when we left she swathed herself in a large fur. The minister stopped me and asked my name as I left, and then glanced down at my form, which I'd handed him and if I'm not mistaken looked quizzical. I told him I was very much looking forward to next week's class, which is absolutely true, since it's on that topic that I have the gravest questions.

Afterwards I sneaked around a bit and opened doors and poked into rooms and found the nursery and then, of course, I went to La Bonne Soupe and had the soupe menu, which comes with salad, a glass of house wine, and a small cup of chocolate mousse. I chose French Onion.

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