01 April 2010

The Full Maundy

I have been a Christian for some 10 years now; in fact it's been exactly 10 years, give or take a week. Being born [again] into the post-Wimberian, Michael W. Smith-ified, fauxhawk loving mainstream Protestant sort of evangelical world of Western Christianity I am otherwise unfamiliar with more liturgical traditions. Indeed, I've very much been on the "It's Me & Jesus, dude!" side of the spectrum and it works: I've had a fantastic Christian life so far. However there are aspects of the faith I feel I miss out on. As mysterious and, well, boring as they seem, I think I'd honestly like to know more about the parts that make up a Catholic mass. My mother's side is very Catholic so I attended a few masses with them as a kid, but I am sad to say the only instance I have attended in recent memory was my grandfather's funeral last year.

In a less specific sense, I feel embarassingly ignorant about this upcoming Easter season.

Perhaps that is a disservice to myself. I, of course, understand the holiday and its related biblical stories. Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Resurrection Sunday, the Passover connexion; I could hardly call myself an experienced Christian without understanding these basic tenets of the faith. I daresay what sparked this whole line of thought was today's interest: Holy Thursday. You see, at my church we are hosting an 'Ancient Worship' service, where we kill anything electric, light a bunch of candles, complete call-and-response readings, and sing songs in honor of Holy Thursday. Holy Thursday, as  I most recently learned, is more also called 'Maundy Thursday' in other traditions and other parts of the world. I rather like the term. Evidently it's derived from a Middle English word, which was derived from the Latin word mandatum which, if you don't know what a cognate is, means "mandate" or "commandment".

I think I owe Wikipedia some money.

That brings me to the crux of the issue: I had no idea that Maundy Thursday was anything but gibberish until two weeks ago. I don't know if it is because my head is too far up my own arse or if I spend all my time reading about and playing games or if I'm too burned out on graduate school to be bothered with anything else, but I just don't know a lot of this stuff and I take issue with that. I find all other religious traditions terribly fascinating. I teach them to barely interested 7th graders with gusto and often wish my own faith had cool and strangely involved customs to weird out non-believers. The trouble is that we do; even my own church Protestant, non-liturgical trailblazers has its own versions of this stuff. I suspect that, like so many things, we become blind to our own gonzo.

So maybe this summer, when I'm out of school (in both cases) I will take the time to investigate the mysteries of the strange, wonderful, and opposed branches of my faith. Sadly and, again, embarrassingly, I've read very little "extra" material on Christianity. I tend to stick with the Bible, barring some material by Lewis and a few other assorted authors, and so perhaps it's time to explore some classics. Assuming I haven't educated myself stupid by then, of course.

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