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Answering the Inevitable Question

8 July, 2003 8:08 AM

Yesterday our landlord, Mrs C, (who occupies the ground floor of our house) invited V and I for coffee. Mrs C is an elderly Italian lady who speaks very little English — her daughter came to translate for us as my year 7 Italian doesn't get me very far at all. She is very friendly and has made us feel very welcome.

The inevitable question came 5 minutes into our 'coffee'. 'What do you do Darren?' It's a question I often think twice about before answering — you never know how it will come across saying that you've just 'started a church'.

The conversation that followed was truly bizarre. Not only was I trying to explain 'Emerging Church' and 'Post modernity' (something that I find hard enough to do with some of my closest friends) but I was doing it through an interpreter, to someone from my grand parents generation who was born on the other side of the world and has always belonged to a little local Catholic church.

I'm not sure Mrs C will be joining us at Living Room any time soon. She's probably downstairs right now wondering what she's gotten herself into with the wacko couple she's got living upstairs and wondering why this priest is married! However despite all this she seemed happy that there were young people 'in the church' — something she'd given upon seeing.

I really enjoyed the challenge of having to explain what we're doing across the cultural divides. Interested to hear how others go about explaining what they're doing to friends, family and elderly, Catholic, Italian ladies!??



What do you do? I'm a pastor.

Oh, really? What church? Well, uh..... you see....

I never know quite how to answer those questions, either. I usually just get a blank stare in return for my answer.

kevin » 8 July, 2003 5:06 PM

Hahaha... that's a great story. I'm Italian myself, and I had to have at least 15 of these conversations with my Grandparents and Aunts when I became a Christian and started working in the church. I still don't think they understand. Too funny.

John Campea » 9 July, 2003 2:09 AM

I usually avoid Christian terms, because then people think they know what I'm talking about. (Can't have that happen.) Calling myself a "faith coach" or saying "I lead a faith community" usually provokes a "what's that?" response. Then I can explain and really confuse them!

ronz » 9 July, 2003 3:15 AM

My 'spiel' starts with 'do you want the long story or short story - the long is much better!' And we go from there - it gives me permission to explain / unpack a little of who I really am without feeling rushed. Works for me!

hamo » 9 July, 2003 10:22 AM

It won't seem so freaky to her once you guys live there a while and she sees how nice you are. :)

Laura » 9 July, 2003 11:53 AM

Isn't that tough? Constantly avoiding the direct answers...trying to redefine what their associations COULD be before we even tell them what we do...aaahh Darren--it is good to hear I'm not alone.

Jared Williams » 10 July, 2003 2:44 AM

It is no wonder she looked at you funny. Your church is completely wierd/boardering on being a cult in my opinion. The poor woman does not know what she is getting herself into.

Greg » 10 July, 2003 12:27 PM

Greg, just curious...what church are YOU a part of?

Jonathan » 11 July, 2003 1:59 AM

Interesting.... I found your site whilst searching the net for my 6 year old (wanting to know if Diana(???) had won American Idol). As an active Catholic and Christian, I am always interested in what people have to say about my Church, particularly when they don't really know anything about it. I would like to raise an issue about the sacrament of Reconciliation (confession). A lot of non-Catholic Christians attack me on this one. This is my view about confessing your sins to a priest- in "going public" so to speak, I find it a more cathartic experience. My parish priest also understands that I do not believe in "his" absolution of my sins, that I believe in His absolution of my sins. Fr Frank is a great man and pastor, who genuinely loves people and regularly gets tackled around the knees by my two rugrats during Mass. When we are praying "Our Father", he invites the kids to come up and pray with him (pure genius- by that stage, the kids are going stir-crazy from being held in a death grip by Mummy/Daddy to prevent things like exploration of the old lady in front's wig... A chance to escape Mum/Dad and see Fr Frank is as good as a holiday) My kids love Frank and the great escape usually ends in Frank being tackled around the knees. Future Wallabies, the pair of them, if only they weren't both girls..... Oops, I digress.... Anyway, I look forward to more exploration of your site. For any of you who are tempted to criticise my Catholic faith, please just remember this point- I respect faith in all forms and criticise none, please afford me the same respect.

Sharon » 30 May, 2004 7:03 PM

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