Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Joy of joys

We are going to a Dedication this weekend for the baby of the Now We're Fertile couple. These are the ones who, although they sympathised with us during the three years and unexplained infertility diagnosis it took them to get pregnant, conveniently forgot that it's NOT nice to be broadsided with pregnancy announcements, and told us while we were on holiday, with just them.

Dedications, for the uninitiated, are the Baptist/"We're So Special We Don't Fit In a Denomination" version of christenings/infant baptisms. One is not supposed to be baptised until one is old enough and savvy enough to stand up and speak for oneself, but strangely, parents still want Tradition and Ceremony for their baby. Hence the Dedication.

Now, unfortunately I have known a lot of Special church people in my life so I know all about these, but the general population doesn't. Especially not card shops.

So, having bitten my tongue, agreed to go, started steeling myself for the Shouty Church, the Over The Top Reception (in the same venue as their Over The Top Wedding - at least there isn't a river boat to take us between the two this time), and come over all Good Wife and gone to the card shop, what did I find?

Lots of Christening cards (no Baptism cards for either babies or adults - I'd actually call it a Baptism whatever the age, but no matter.) A selection of It's a Boy cards and of Naming Ceremony cards. Nothing whatsoever for infant dedication.

See, when you try and behave, where does it get you? I've a good mind to buy them a Civil Ceremony card, well, it's a ceremony, and I'm hoping I'll manage to be civil.

[Theological aside: you may switch off now, but my take on this is: baptism welcomes infants, children, or adults into the church, and anyone can be a member of the church, it does not take knowledge or maturity. Refusing to baptise infants because they cannot answer for themselves begs the question, what of those who are adults or adolescents and cannot answer for themselves? It seems to me rather insulting to children (and parents of such children) who have severe learning disabilities such that they will never be verbal. They should not be refused membership of the church either. Likewise, my godmother's sister-in-law, brought up Baptist but with Asperger's Syndrome, refused to answer "yes" to the questions put to her in her adolescent baptism preparation, because having Asperger's Syndrome she would not answer anything that she was not 100% sure about. No-one is 100% sure about belief, and if they are I'd be mighty suspicious, and I think the sister-in-law wasn't intending to be refused baptism. It is, to my mind, a dangerously gnostic model of belief - if you know certain facts and answer correctly to certain questions, you are a member of the church - if not, not.]


Bernardeena said...

As a 'special church' person I'll leave my thoughts on this matter.

I think the idea is that a dedication is like a welcome to the church, a baptism when you are older is a statement of your own faith. I guess a bit like a christening and a confirmation but in reverse. The reasoning behind it being that in the bible people chose to be baptised, not as babies. I think it is the difference between being a member of the church, and having a faith of your own, the two aren't the same and you can have one without the other either way round.

However I guess my own thinking on it is a bit different. I don't feel at all bothered about getting ds dedicated really. He is a part of the church family anyway I think, I don't need some service for him. I know some people see it as a service of thanks giving, and although I am so grateful for him I don't feel the need to have a service to show that thanks. The only reason I am probably getting ds dedicated is for the inlaws (not that they have probably come across dedication before) as they really want some sort of church celibration, and like my mum said all the prayers of blessing are a nice thing anyway.

If when he is older he wants to be baptised that will be his choice, something I chose to do when I was 11 and am really glad I did. I think faith is a personal thing and although I hope and pray that he chooses that path, it is ultimately his choice if he wants to be baptised or not. I can see though that not everybody sees it the same way and that people do view baptism differently.

Anyway that is a bit of waffle that probably didn't explain anything, but as an aside if there is a local Wesley Owen you can probably get dedication cards there.

gpm said...

My take is slightly different. We're Anglican as it happens but chose to have our children dedicated rather than christened or baptised (our church is a bit of a free-for-all in this respect) because I don't see it as anything to do with "membership" of a church. Our kids are members of our church family and whether they get christened etc doesn't affect that. But I want them to make a decision themselves when they're older whether they choose to follow our faith and have that faith for themselves and it seems to me that that is the most logical time for them to decide to get baptised. Lots of our friends and our godchildren have been christened and I respect their choices - I just prefer it this way round for our own children. (At our church we have special needs workers for both children adn adults and I am certain that no-one would be turned away from baptism/christening/confirmation etc if it was felt that they were making a decision that they "understood" as much as they were capable of understanding regardless of whether or not they could verbalise that and regardless of whether or not that understanding was the same as an "adult" understanding...)