Baptism

Yesterday I got baptised.

Anglicanilly, that is. I.e. with a font, oil on my forehead in the sign of the cross, a shell full of water splashed over my head, and a candle.

I got a certificate and I got to keep the candle and if I ever get ordained I’ll need to present the certificate.

I had to record my parents’ full names. I did this, fully. If and when I get married, then, my dad is going to hate me – he usually leaves out a chunk of his full name for reasons which I will spare him the telling to you; now it’s going to go down for posterity.

The service sheet was laid out as if I was a child – so we had to leave out bits and I had to pretend to be my own Sponsor, which was quite fun.

I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins.

I feel lovely. It sort of felt like my birthday. And now – and this is weird – I finally feel like my name is my own. Since I was a child I’ve always felt that, having not been christened like all my friends were (and maybe one of them actually said this to me and that’s why I feel it), that my name is not my own, could not be my own until I was christened with it. But now I really am Jennifer Rivers Mohan.

I’ll tell you why they ‘do’ them when they’re babies, though – it’s a darn sight easier to pour water on someone’s forehead if they’re lying down, in the crook of someone’s arm over a font. And if they don’t have hair to get in the way. I had to do a stunning arrangement of my fringe with hairslides. Still, it was just me and the Rev, so.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Baptism

  1. Congratulations πŸ™‚

    I think there’s something special about confirming (pun not intended) one’s faith for onesself.

  2. I think one of the reasons I was never into organised religion is that I really can’t help but perceive these rituals as anything other than slightly silly. That’s just my own bias though, naturally.

    Human beings in general have an enormous penchant for symbolic rituals to mark arbitrary things, c.f. New Year’s eve, one’s birthday, university graduations, etc.

    As regards names, they’re really fascinating things. Some cultures and traditions have the idea that knowing something’s true name gives you power over it; that baptism was a protection from the state of being unnamed. Names have power, and very few of us choose our own.

    Does make me wonder what I would call myself if I was going to rename myself; I’m rather rubbish at picking names for things, so I have no idea. The closest I’ve come to picking my own name is my online handle, “aiusepsi”.

  3. It’s not just cultures with that idea – it’s frequently replayed in novels & literature. Robin Hobb’s The Assassins Trilogy features characters that are named at birth and grow up to behave as per that name, for example Verity is always truthful, Shrewd is, well, Shrewd.

    The series later features dragons who choose their own names from their ancestral memories, but only give false names to humans because their true name has some, as yet unrevealed, implication.

    I also came across a book a long time ago where “magic” was simply the knowing of the true names of all things – in fact I think that was part of a recent story too. If you know the name of something and everything about it, you have full power over it…

    Human psychology on identification really is fascinating. For example, when replaying events in your mind you might find some you disassociate (see yourself as if from a fly on the wall) and others you run through as if it was yourself doing it – there is, according to NLP/CBT treatments, significance in how you use these to replay events.

    I’m personally not a fan of organised religion. However, I do wonder sometimes if it is any different to the ritual things I do which make no sense to people. For example, I have a specific procedure for sitting an exam, getting a train etc and I feel quite uncomfortable if I don’t follow these rules. There’s a guy at work who point blank refuses to cross anyone on the stairs – ever. I don’t know if there is any truth in it, but the human brain does seem wired to become “superstitious” or “religious” depending on how you look at it. There’s also an awful lot to be said for blind faith as a method for dealing with extreme stress – the more the mind tries to process such extremes, the less it is usually able.

    Oh well, who knows eh? Anyway, sounds like you enjoyed it; that’s the main thing!

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