Required worship: Check.

The requirement that Go-Co students attend chapel has been something I've loved and hated about this school. For the better part of three years I bitched and moaned about going, and often with good reason - it was boring, the worship was horrible and fake (how could required worship be authentic?), and the speakers were too conservative for me to relate to.

Oh, we would have the occasional gem: Norm Jones would perform a dramatic monologue or a preacher from an urban church would come shake us up a little bit. But until this year, chapel was something I habitually resented. Sometimes I would try to get something out of it, spiritually or intellectually, but I would almost always walk away frustrated. I came to think of myself not as a Christian but as an agnostic.

I'm not saying things have gotten tons better. My faith is still a fragile thing. But, for the first time in four years, I was actually starting to get something out of going to chapel. Perhaps the number of "Christian life and worship" credits I'd earned didn't reflect that, but I was going twice a week ready to engage (as well as attending Sunday night candlelight worship, which doesn't offer credit), and that was a huge step for me.

Then, halfway through the semester, I had five extra chapel credits tacked onto my requirements, pushing me up to 35 for the semester. Between my night shifts at the writing center, my afternoon classes, and my internship, I literally could not attend afternoon and evening events. I counted, and there were not enough morning chapels left in the semester for me to fulfill the requirement.

They don't stop you from graduating if you don't make all your chapels. As a part-time student next semester, my record will be cleared anyway. But it was the principle of the thing. I asked for a reduction in chapel requirements and was refused.

Suddenly what little motivation I had to attend was replaced by the same familiar resentment that kept me from God over the past few years. The expectation that I, a Christian teetering on the brink of faith, should have to make better than perfect chapel attendance for the rest of the semester was absurd. I determined that the chapel office was run by a slew of heartless bureaucrats with no concept of the Christian concept of mercy.

I almost decided to boycott and start having my own private worship time. After all, the idea of Christian life and worship is to bring you into communion with God, and I could do that just as well on my own. I thought, who the hell are the bureaucrats to tell me whether my Christian life and worship is sufficient? Are they saying I'm only good enough for God if I'm good enough for them? But we are not trying to please men, but God! He is the only one who should be attaching a value to my Christian life and worship.

Well, today I completed my 35th chapel of the semester. I am done. I don't know how I managed it; maybe it was the Thursday night movie screening that I only went to because Skipping Stone had a hand in its production, or the debate on human suffering, or the visiting author whose discourse I had to attend for my writing class. Regardless, I did it, and I think that the victory is as pleasing to God as it is to the chapel office. I at least know that I feel better rounded and spiritually stimulated than I have in past years.

Put that in your censer and smoke it.

Peace, love and truffles,
Miss Rex


Mr. Condescending said...

I went to a christian high school for 2 years and I remember having to go mandatory church time.

I remember how much it sucked!

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