I grew up Calvinist and Republican in a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri. My parents belonged to—but rarely attended—Immanuel Evangelical & Reformed Church in Ferguson, Missouri. When children reached the age of twelve, they were “confirmed” in the church, which meant taking a Bible class taught by the minister, Rev. Press, and then going through a ceremony that made them eligible to take communion, which in that church was grape juice and tasteless crackers. Transubstantiation? I learned what the word meant, but I had (and still have) no idea if it really happens.
I’ve always been one to ask untidy questions, so of course I asked a lot of questions in confirmation class. God tells us half a dozen times in the Old Testament, for example, that he is a “jealous god.” How, I asked Rev. Press, can a jealous god be a loving god? What’s good about a jealous god? (A couple decades later, when I was studying the Aramaic Bible as translated by George M. Lamsa from the Pshitta manuscripts, I learned that the correct word is “zealous.” That was no help. I still don’t see much good in either jealousy or zealotry.) A week or two later, I asked Rev. Press, “What’s good about Good Friday?” Shortly thereafter, my mother advised me to stop asking questions in confirmation class. (Can we assume she’d received a pastoral phone call?) Continue reading “What’s Good About Good Friday? by Barbara Ardinger”