Wednesday, September 30, 2009
My daughter, Haggette, has been a practicing Druid ever since she renounced all my values somewhere around her tenth birthday. Me? I'm a lapsed Christian who knows nothing about Druidism, except it has something to do with trees and people dancing nekkid in the moonlight. I figured any religion Haggette was involved in had to be--how shall I say it--different, so it came as no great surprise when she told me she was off to Minneapolis this coming weekend to marry a couple she knew.
"Does Jeremy know about this?" I asked her, referring to her husband.
"Sure. He's coming along."
"You mean he approves of it?"
"Oh, yes. Absolutely."
"Um, so how many people can Druids be married to at any one time?"
"Let me get this straight. You can only be married to one at a time, right? So how can you marry two more this weekend?"
"I'm not marrying them, I'm marrying them."
"You've been chewing on willow branches again, haven't you?"
"No, see, I'm performing the ceremony. I'm an O.C.P."
"You're an O.C.P?"
"Yes. An Ordained Clergy Person."
At this point, most normal people would have let the conversation drop, or at least try to switch the topic to baseball. But, noooooooooo. I was curious. I had to learn more. So I went on.
"I don't recall sending you to Divinity School."
A palpable silence hung over the room. She would not give me the satisfaction of answering my unasked question. I looked at her. She looked at me. Then we both looked at each other. I blinked. "So, okay. Spill. How'd you get to be one of these...these whatchamacallits?"
"O.C.P. I signed up on their website."
"The Church of Spiritual Humanism."
"I've never heard of them. What are their tenets?"
"I have no idea."
"Wait a minute. You mean to tell me you have no idea what they believe in, yet they ordained you?"
"That's right." She reached into her purse, pulled out what appeared to be some kind of ID card and passed it over to me. "See?"
The card, indeed, identified her as an O.P.C. of the C.H.S.
I'd had enough and tried to sneak away. Haggette grabbed my arm. "Wait," she said. "Here's the best part. It's all free."
"You mean to tell me they didn't suck your bank account dry for this?"
"Nope. Not a penny."
This was too good to be true and I knew I was going to have to check it out. Haggette is sometimes too spontaneous for her own good, and I was afraid I was going to have to both bring her back to reality and pay her bills for the next few months. But the church checked out. Everything she said about them proved accurate.
As I flipped through their website I did find some of the church's "services" that did come with a fee attached. But Haggette didn't need a coffee cup with O.F.C printed on it and she had no desire for bumper stickers or t-shirts. So she was fine with what she'd gotten for free.
It seems that the free ordination only allows you to identify yourself as an Ordained Clergy Person. For a mere $89.95, you get to pick the religious title of your choice. You want to be a Pastor? They'll make you a Pastor. You want to be a Shaman, an Ayatollah or a Rabbi? How about a Thanatologist or a Child of the Swinging Universe? It's a done deal. And all for only $89.95.
Haggette doesn't know it yet, but her Christmas present is already bought and paid for. It's a lovely, framed certificate from The Church of Spiritual Humanism vesting her with her new title. My daughter is now a Father.
Pardon me, but I've got to stop writing now. I'm getting all misty just thinking about it.