Monday, May 7, 2007

Are Children Born High Church?

Dan at Necessary Roughness writes the following:

We were sitting towards the back of the church on Sunday, prepared for the necessity of escorting a child out of church with a minimum of distraction to everyone else.

Matins was preceded by the baptisms of two children, one about seven and the other about eleven, by my guess. Baptism are cool to watch.

My poor shorter and more vocal daughter tried to get a glimpse. I even let her stand on my lap for a little bit, when to my horror, she blurted out, “he’s not doing it like they do in the real church.”

Dan goes on to write that his child was referring to the Baptisms she saw performed by Pope Benedict on television. Why did she think that St. Peter’s is the real church?

I am nearly convinced that children are born as rubrically-minded high churchers. It takes a lot of work to dispel them of their inborn sacramental, liturgical faith, but most parents joyfully go about teaching them by example that church is about listening to lectures, singing different hymns every week instead of memorizing the liturgy, and keeping the eyes closed when we pray lest we see crucifixes or images, or, God forbid, angels (tongue firmly in-cheek).

Our three-year-old went through a period of having bad dreams and seeing images on the wall by her bed. I offered to buy a cross and put it on her wall, which she thought would work just fine but she insisted it have “Jesus on it.” Thankfully the one religious book store in town had two crucifixes to choose from.

Our children would not just reverence the altar when they passed in front of it, they would do full prostrations (knees and forehead on the floor). Why? I don’t believe they had ever seen it before–they just did it. Strangely enough, I was picking up #2 from the Christian (Baptist) School Kindergarten once and strolled in while the full-day kids were praying before walking to the lunch room and saw three or four of those good baptist kids also praying while making a full prostration.

There are plenty more examples of the strange crypto-Catholic/ crypto-Orthodox practices of kids (Lutheran and Protestant) I’ve seen, but in the interest of preserving their reputations, I will refrain :)
Study questions:

1. Are “churched” children somehow innately high-church?

2. Does this have implications regarding Original Sin (especially for those baptist kids who have not yet been baptized)?

3. Does this have implications for adults, especially those who are afraid of sacramental, reverent worship?