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Yet another Sunday had come to its close. A certain combination of migraine medication side effect, rice pudding, the Autumnal Equinox, and the impending national election had proved a potent cocktail; I lay in bed, fighting a rare inability to fall asleep.
Sundays in my life had gone through a tangible evolution. What had been a consistent pattern of weekly church worship, from infancy through early adulthood, had been displaced by alternating themes: night shift sleep schedules; nocturnality; intellectual curiosity; and, ultimately, abdication (translation: loss of virginity). In my life, the Lord’s Day, like the Sabbath, had become indistinguishable from any other day of the week.
But, I would be intellectually dishonest were I to hide the fact that my belief patterns had also been morphing. The absolute truths put forth by proponents of the Holy Bible literalists had come into serious question and, with this, any commitment to a Christianity specifically defined.
What, after all, was Christianity? I’d read The History of Christianity, by Paul Tillich. I’d read other speculators, William James’ The Varieties of Religious Experience among them. And, I’d read virtually every word of the Holy Bible – King James Version, Scofield Reference, and J.N. Darby translation. Raised by sectarian Fundamentalists to believe that the One Way To Worship was their exclusive domain, and accepting Jesus as my Personal Savior at age six, the moment I’d consciously set one toe outside of that sanctified corral had set me on a path leading directly to the Grand Nowhere.
Now, eyes to the ceiling in the dark, I ruminated. How many called to worship on that day, who called themselves Christians, were there, exactly?
Perhaps it was time to count sheep.
I began with the letter A.
A — Abyssinian Greeks; Amish; Ames Brethren; Anglicans; Assemblies of God
B — Baptists; Brethren, Church of;
C — Calvinists; Closed Brethren; Colossians; Converted Jews; Coptics; Corinthians;
D — Davidians; Denominationalists; Doctors of Divinity; Dogmatists;
E — Ecumenicals; Ephesians; Episcopalians; Evangelicals; Evangelical Frees;
F — Federated Free; Franciscans; Fundamentalists;
G — Galations; General Association of Regular Baptists; Gnostics; Gregorians;
H — Holiness Pentecostals; Holy Eastern Orthodox;
I — Independent Baptists; Inter-Denominationalists; Irish Catholics;
J — Jehovah’s Witnesses; Jesuits; Jesus Freaks;
K — Knights Templar;
L — Laodiceans; Latter Day Saints; Lutherans;
M — Mennonites; Methodists; Mormons, Reformed;
N — Nazarenes; New Apostolics; non-Denominationalists;
O — Open Brethren; Orthodox Greeks;
P — Philippians; Plymouth Brethren; Protestants; Presbyterians; Pentecostals;
Q — Quakers;
R — Roman Catholics; Reformed, so called;
S — Scientist, Church of Christ; Seventh Day Adventists; Smyrnans;
T — Theologians, Academic; Thessalonians;
U — United Brethren; United Church of Christs’; Unitarians;
V — Vatican, The;
W — Wesleyan Methodists; Worldwide Church of God;
X — Xmas Celebrants;
Y — Youth Pastors;
Z — Zionists!
Indeed. The alphabet proved a useful tool; its twenty six letters had successfully taken me across the spectrum of Christianity, from the Apostle Paul’s inception through to the present day.
Further research, beyond the ironic – though futile – quest for the letter “X”, revealed the Hartford Institute for Religion Research and their list of Official Denominational websites. In Hartford’s list, the number of entries for the letter “A” alone, while inclusive of other religions, exceeded the number of letters in the alphabet.
As I drifted off to sleep, a final thought formulated in my mind. It was neither a proclamation, nor a dogma, nor a tenet. Rather, it appeared as a challenge, in the form of this question:
When fairly addressing the argument for or against the theory of evolution, wouldn’t one only have to consider the history of the Christian church as evidence?
© Ruth Ann Scanzillo 11/7/16 All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Thank you for your respect. Like my Mammy always said, “Prayer Changes Things.”