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Worship takes many forms

Posted: September 17, 2010 12:03 p.m.
Updated: September 17, 2010 11:52 a.m.

I read recently that a girl who had been suspended from a North Carolina high school for refusing  to remove her nose stud now says her body piercings are based on her religion.

The girl and her parents claim they belong to the Church of Body Modification and that her nose stud is a spiritual thing. A pastor -- let’s consider the term loosely -- of the church says members get together to do all sorts of fun things like placing hooks through their skin, and cutting or burning their skin to create scars.

“It might seem silly to other people, but for us, this is what we have, this is what we hold on to,” the Church of Body Modification clergyman said.

Silly? Who could possibly think that?  Doesn’t everybody enjoy getting together on Sundays for a little bit of prayerful skin cutting, flesh burning and tongue piercing?

After all, this country has a long history of religious tolerance, and people who belong to the Church of Body Modification are no doubt deeply spiritual, with theological knowledge steeped in long years of Bible study.

Ahem.

I have knowledge of other churches that have also experienced a lack of acceptance by many people.

Back in college, one of my fraternity brothers belonged to the If You Are A Pretty Coed, I Would Really Like For You To Get Naked As Quickly As Possible Church.

He endured lots of persecution, all because of his beliefs. Much of it came from the fathers of pretty coeds who discovered their daughters attending services with him at the Stay Awhile Motel (slogan: rooms by the hour or minute.)

This church member went on to become a distinguished judge in North Carolina, known for his heavy-handed sentencing. Maybe having a couple daughters had something to do with his demeanor on the bench.

Another little-known sect in Chapel Hill at that time was attended by several of my friends. The Whiskey On Saturday Night Certainly Does Taste Good  And It Makes You Feel Even Better Church had a long and distinguished history.

At the Sig Ep house, where the congregation grew rapidly on weekends, parishioners gathered in the basement party room on a regular basis. Beach music -- with a religious theme, mind you -- often punctuated the services.

Sometimes the philosophies of both of the churches mentioned above sort of intertwined, especially when the church’s congregants took their communion a bit too rapidly and enthusiastically, thereby leading to speaking in tongues, which was entirely involuntary but consisted mostly of an inability to say anything that made even a grain of sense.

I also had some friends who were faithful members of the Going To Class On Fridays Is Asking A Bit Too Much Church. Some of them were remarkably religious, so much so that they spent Fridays tuning up to worship with their brethren in the Whiskey On Saturday Nights Certainly Does Taste Good And It Makes You Feel Even Better Church.

So I would urge you, in the spirit of brotherly love, and keeping my old friends in mind, not to be too judgmental of the girl in North Carolina.

After all, she hasn’t asked anybody to drink Kool-Aid in the name of religion, as Jim Jones did a few years ago.
And if you happen to see me and notice that I have a big nose stud, you’ll know I’ve changed denominations. But forget the talking in tongues. I’m too old for that.

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