I didn't blog much about the workshop week we attended a couple of weeks ago- the one on Christian Practices- and what I did say, I know, was a bit jumbled. But one thing about the week that struck me was something that wasn't on the syllabus.
There were a few Protestants among us, in the group of about 50 of us. Two were Lutherans (a religion that I'm intrigued by, I'll admit, after watching a PBS doc. about Martin Luther a couple of years back)- one an interim pastor at an Episcopal parish and the other her faith formation director. Also in attendance was a Presbyterian minister. I learned some interesting things about how their clergy work in their respective religions (including the baffling fact that in the Presb. guy's church there were something like 50 ordained clergy! How does that work?) and that Episcopal and Lutheran churches can share clergy- but not on a permanent basis.
But what really struck me was the effect that having some "Prods" as my uncle Bud used to call them, in amongst our mostly Catholic group. I was interested to see that when the Presb. guy (sorry to keep calling him that) referred to scripture, he seemed to expect us to know exactly what he was referencing- and it wasn't that we were all dolts, staring gape-mouthed at him whenever he mentioned the Bible, but there was a difference there. The impressively educated , professional Catholic faith formation people in the room were well versed in Maria Harris but... I guess the difference was, our knowledge was purely Catholic.
I mentioned already here the difference in perception between us- about how when the PGuy (better?) mentioned being "outside your faith tradition" the Catholics among us assumed he meant "Protestant"- not, say, Muslim or Buddhist, etc... I thought that the Protestants seemed to know more about Catholic teaching and tradition than we did about theirs- and it was interested when they would ask questions like "what do you mean when you say a 'reconciliation service'? Everyone goes at once? But they have to do individual confession? Huh, that's interesting..."
On the last day of the workshop we were talking about involving parish groups in each other's activities- like involving the whole parish when the Youth Ministry has a Fast-a-thon or what have you. The PGuy told a story about a church where they commissioned their youth during a church service- the group was making pb&j sandwiches for the homeless. The PGuy beamed as he told about the kids actually making their sandwiches ON THE ALTAR during the service. I had to laugh (I laugh too much) at the polite reactions in the room among the Catholics- everyone smiled and nodded at the PGuy but the tension in the room was palpable. ON THE ALTAR???? It was funny. Our leader, when we had all swiveled around to face him again, was grinning. He said "sometimes... it's great to be Presbyterian!"