Edge of Faith July 2017 - Page 43

recover some of that. Getting back to your question about who would be a good reader for this book; I hope that people who undergo baptism, who administer baptism, who observe them will also think about ways they might enrich the whole ritual and the whole sacrament in their lives, and then relive it every Sunday and every Easter; on Pentecost, if they want. So that’s it in kind of a nutshell.  I agree with you, especially in reference to the welcoming babies into the fold, as it were, through baptism. Which you do, but a lot of people do lose a lot if they don’t understand the history of baptism. For example, that in the first few centu- ries there was some pretty strong debate on whether infants were or were not to be baptized.  There still is! People should probably have a greater understanding of what baptism itself is and what does it mean. As I was reading through some of the first pages of your book, when you were going into some of the more intricate and very lengthy time periods to get all the different rituals done so that you could actually enter into the baptism, I was sitting there thinking, “That sure came a long way from just grabbing some muddy water along the side of the road and baptizing somebody to this pro- cess.” I think people who will read this will come from different traditions, so some people will recog- nize that statement immediately. Others will say, “Well, you know, in my tradition it really is a big deal and we take people to the river and we do plunge them.” Because I teach people from so many different faith traditions and so many dif- ferent denominations of Christianity, I try to find the place where this links to them. One example that I caught onto very early in teaching was to ask people to describe the baptismal fonts in their churches, if they were Christians. You don’t often have an Orthodox person in the room, but I often would have somebody who practiced immer- sion baptisms; who was a Baptist or a Disciple of Christ. People would say, “Ours is this little bowl.” I would say, “What shape is your little bowl and does it have a pedestal?” And they said, “I think it’s octagonal.” If they could remember that, and that wasn’t always guaranteed, and I would say, “Do you think there’s any reason for that?” They would say, “Well, it’s pretty; it’s kind of nice that way. It’s traditional, but I don’t know why.” And then I’d say, “What if we thought about that as pointing to the first day of the new creation; the eighth day. It’s an eight because it’s the day after the world ends and it is a new creation. Just as Sunday is both the first day of the week and it’s the eighth day; the beginning, the opening up of new creation. People sort of sit there dumbfounded because they had never really thought of that and it gives them something that when they now come to this font, they have a new way of looking at it.  Speaking of new ways to look at fonts; I was in Santa Fe this summer and I was visiting a really beautiful Catholic Cathedral there and they obviously practice full immersion because it was almost like a cross-shaped swimming pool, but it has this beautiful inlay and it is a really pretty font. What struck me was that as I was waiting to go