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Okay, I’m a United Methodist. I have been for about 8 years now. I was raised as a Roman Catholic, though, and I didn’t leave the Catholic Church because of strong theological or philosophical differences. My husband was raised as a United Methodist, and has never been comfortable in a Catholic Mass, so when we finally decided we wanted to attend church together, I agreed to try the Methodist church.

The one in our area at the time (United Methodist Church of Rancho Cordova, near Sacramento), was awesome. They had a woman pastor (nonexistent in the Catholic church). She left soon after we started attending, but the next pastor was a woman also, and became a good friend. We formally joined the church. I still missed things about the Catholic church — the familiar hymns and rituals and the weekly Communion especially, but eventually the Methodist traditions became familiar as well.

Today, I took a quiz that I found through this blog entry, which was in my Tag Surfer today. It measures something called your “theological worldview.” I’m not sure how to define that. I was surprised, however, to find that I still scored primarily as a Roman Catholic! My second worldview is Emergent/Postmodern, which is more where I see myself these days — and really, the two go together a bit, because one characteristic of emergent/postmoderns is that they like getting back to the ancient rituals of the church.

My third worldview is Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan, which is the United Methodist part of my background. Apparently, however, the faith I was raised in still has a huge impact on my theology and practice.

The full results are below, along with a picture representing Roman Catholicism. Very formal. My husband, who scored fully emergent/postmodern, got a picture of Brian McLaren.

What’s your theological worldview?
created with QuizFarm.com
You scored as Roman CatholicYou are Roman Catholic. Church tradition and ecclesial authority are hugely important, and the most important part of worship for you is mass. As the Mother of God, Mary is important in your theology, and as the communion of saints includes the living and the dead, you can also ask the saints to intercede for you.

Roman Catholic
 
75%
Emergent/Postmodern
 
71%
Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan
 
64%
Neo orthodox
 
61%
Modern Liberal
 
50%
Charismatic/Pentecostal
 
50%
Classical Liberal
 
50%
Reformed Evangelical
 
32%
Fundamentalist
 
0%

Reading The Dark Is Rising is a holiday tradition for me. This is when the book takes place. It begins on Midwinter’s Eve. For us, the winter solstice is considered the official beginning of winter, but in the pagan tradition, it’s Midwinter. So, the book begins on the night before the solstice, and ends on Twelfth Night (January 6).

The Dark is Rising is a fantasy-type story, like the Narnia books, Harry Potter books, and the currently controversial Golden Compass. It is a Newbery Honor Book, and one of its sequels, The Grey King, won the 1976 Newbery Award.

Like The Golden Compass, and unlike Narnia, The Dark is Rising is not intended to be a Christian book. It focuses on a conflict between Light and Dark, or good and evil. It recognizes these two sides, plus a High Magic that is above both. God is not in the picture. The book doesn’t criticize the organized church, like The Golden Compass does, but the author doesn’t seem to think the church is particularly important, either.

Some Christians have a problem with the Cooper books (there are five of them in The Dark is Rising series) because they think they promote paganism and magic. I think they are stories. Good ones. I don’t think they’re intended to promote anything.

Like Philip Pullman, Cooper based her stories on older texts — the Welsh Mabinogion and other sources of Arthurian material. Pullman drew on Milton’s Paradise Lost in his stories.

The Dark Is Rising focuses on the story of Will, an ordinary boy who finds out on his eleventh birthday (Midwinter’s Day) that he’s actually one of the Old Ones, those who fight for the Light, and who have special powers they can use in that fight. His task, in this book, is to find six signs, made long ago for the Light, which must be joined together to help in the fight against the Dark.

Yes, the Old Ones can do things that we might term “magic.” And yes, there is pagan imagery, of Celtic origin — most obviously in the case of Herne the Hunter, who has an appearance like the “horned god” in Celtic traditions:

“The head from which the branching antlers sprang was shaped like the head of a stag, but the ears beside the horns were those of a dog or a wolf. And the face beneath the horns was a human face — but with the round feather-edged eyes of a bird.”

Cooper herself says that she turned away from Christianity at age sixteen, but does not criticize Christianity as openly or flamboyantly as Pullman has been known to. She does say, in an interview for Dreams and Wishes: Essays on Writing for Children, that she tried to stay away from “the Christian story of the leader who dies for salvation.” Instead of returning to save the world, her King Arthur (who does eventually appear) helps win the final battle of the series, but then sails away, and “saving the world is up to the people in it.” Those who live on the earth have the responsibility to choose good or evil for themselves.

This is actually pretty close to my own theology as a Christian. Yes, Jesus came to “save” us. He shows us that God’s love is infinitely strong and never-ending — even dying to make that point. He also told us, and showed us, how to live a life in the Kingdom of God — a Kingdom where we love one another, and take care of one another, with mercy and justice. He told us that we have the Kingdom of God within us, and it is our responsibility to help create that Kingdom, here on earth — not just to wait for Jesus to come back to take all the believers to heaven.

I like The Dark Is Rising, and its companion books, better than The Golden Compass (part of the His Dark Materials trilogy), but that’s just because I think it’s a better story, not because of any theology (or lack thereof).

If you read The Dark Is Rising series, be sure to begin with Over Sea, Under Stone. That is actually the first book in the series. It introduces a different set of children, and does not include Will, but eventually the whole thing comes together.

I also enjoyed Susan Cooper’s book Seaward. It doesn’t take place in the world of The Dark Is Rising, but is an enjoyable fantasy.

As for the movie version of The Dark Is Rising — yes, it was released this year, although you might not have noticed it. At first, it was promoted as The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising, but by its release date it was simply titled The Seeker, and apparently it is quite different from the book. I haven’t seen it, and don’t plan to, but word is that Arthurian and pre-Christian references were stripped out, and Cooper doesn’t sound happy about it.

I will, however, be continuing to read the book in snatches during these hectic, pre-Christmas days.

I dreamed last night about my church.  They were holding an event, and I happened to be in the building at the same time, but didn’t know about the event.

When I saw so many people I knew gathering around decorated tables, I asked, “What’s going on?”

Someone gave me the name of the event (I’ve forgotten what it was in the dream).  “I didn’t know about that!” I exclaimed, “Why wasn’t I told?  That’s ridiculous that I wouldn’t know about it!”

Someone showed me the flyer that had gone out, and then I remembered.  I had seen the flyer — and had ignored it, thinking it wasn’t worth my attention because it came from the more traditional service.

I could have joined in at that point, but I looked around the room, and saw it was full of the usual people — all older than me, and set in their ways.   I complained to one person, “There’s never a group for people like me.  I want to have a group of people who are more like me.”  I didn’t get a response to that, however.

Now for the reality:  Yes, in my church, there is a traditional service and an alternative service.   Yes, there is a large percentage of older people who are fairly set in their ways.  No, they are not awful people.  They are loving and caring people, some of whom happen to dislike change, at least in some situations.

I have, on several occasions recently, complained about not knowing what’s going on.  I didn’t know about the plans for an alternative gift-giving table for Christmas; I didn’t know about the new banners that were ordered; I didn’t know that someone was already bringing dinner for the Wednesday night group (I thought I was in charge of organizing that).

My dream tells me that maybe it’s at least partially my fault.  Maybe I’m not listening, or communicating with others like I should.  Maybe I’m isolating myself.

I also read a devotional this morning which talked about accepting people as they are and living in cooperation, not competition, with them.   That’s another thing that makes me go, “Hmmm…..”  And, “I can do better.”

I still wish there were some people more like me around, though.  I’ve tried to start a small group for women closer to my age a couple of times, but it didn’t pan out.  Both times, we started with three people, and both times it just fizzled out.

Where are the people like me?  I know some of you are here, on the internet, but where are the ones in my neighborhood?

Now my conscience is telling me, “You have to go out and find them, and find out what is filling their lives, duh.  Don’t worry about trying to get them into the church.  Just try to get to know some people.”

Duh.