Friday, May 15, 2009

Lack of Officiantiness

Well, we met with the officiant on Tuesday, as planned. It wasn't until the day of our meeting that I bothered to ask Opie what denomination this preacher is. As soon as he said, "Baptist", I instantly became apprehensive. I try to be as open-minded about religion and religious sects as possible, but a large percentage of my negative experiences in regards to religion have come via Baptists. That's not by any means to say that Baptists are bad people! I've just encountered fewer open-minded Baptists than open-minded "insert-other-Denomination-here"s, and am therefore sometimes wary of interactions with Baptists where religion will dominate the conversation.

As we pulled up to the church, my apprehension developed into a heavy stone in my stomach. I've seen a lot of huge churches, but this one is pretty uber-huge, without becoming the stereotypical concrete super-church you run into on the highways of Texas. Beautiful traditional brick architecture, but seemingly the size of an airport, and with an underground parking garage to boot. Eep. As an agnostic with somewhat atheistic leanings, I felt rather like I was entering a trap, while driving into the underbelly of this enormous church, with the express purpose of explaining my religious beliefs to a minister.

I think Opie was (understandably) a little amused by my palpable fear, but in the moment, I was far from amused by his amusement. I hadn't had a one-on-one meeting with a minister since I went through confirmation in 6th grade, and I was even nervous then! Despite the fact that I've attended copious amounts of churches since going down a "wayward" path, out of respect for the other attendees of the church, I always keep mum about any issues I may find with the religious proceedings. It's certainly not my place to come into their place of worship and question their beliefs. Which is exactly what I felt like I was preparing to do. Whee!

We wound up having to employ the help of a security guard and some sort of church employee to guide us to the minister's office, which happened to be as far from where we parked as humanly possible, with a never-ending labyrinth of stairs and hallways in between.

And you know what? All my fears were for naught. The minister was one heck of a nice guy, and completely respectful of our beliefs, as we were of his. I think all 3 of us enjoyed the open-minded religious philosophical discussion that ensued. If anyone wants a religious officiant in the Dallas area, I would gladly pass you his information.

Unfortunately, just as we would feel insincere having a religious ceremony when we are nonreligious, the minister would feel insincere in performing a nonreligious ceremony when he believes that God is an important part of marriage. We completely understand, though it is a little disappointing, since he's a really great guy and the only officiant we have any personal recommendation for thus far... but we'll figure something else out.

Since I assigned finding an officiant to Opie, I'm doing my best to stay out of researching it too much, but I'll be somewhat surprised if we don't end up using a Justice of the Peace. I don't know what rates they charge, but I'm sure it can't be worse than the cheesy wedding officiants we've found offering their services online.


Laura said...

Dear heart, have you considered asking a local judge to perform the ceremony? That's what Rone and I did when we got married at our home in Houston, and our man was very nice. He came complete with black robes and a very mellow, impressive voice. I had him read the old Common Prayer ceremony-- my favorite-- with God removed. May I also point out that you can have a good friend or mentor perform the ceremony-- he or she can become a mail-order minister of the ummmm Universal Life Church I think it is. One of our friends has thusly married a couple of couples, and it was all as legal as can be. Something to think about. Another of our friends, the fantastic young jazz genius Morgan T. Jones III, also mailed in just so he could be introduced on stage as "The Reverend" Morgan T. etc.

Sweet Lorraine said...

@Laura - We are currently looking into judges and justices of the peace. We're also aware of the Universal Life Church option (Opie actually got ordained just to see how difficult the process was), but it's unlikely we'll take that route. We asked Opie's uncle to officiate our ceremony, but he was uncomfortable doing so. One of my mom's brothers is willing and would make a wonderful officiant, but the wedding is already very slanted toward my side of the family, so I think we'll seek a neutral party instead.

As a side note, two of my friends have been reverends of the Universal Life Church since High School. I think I may just go join them myself.