It's been a difficult few weeks for your friendly neighborhood GetReligionistas. First, George endured major spinal surgery.
Then Mollie seriously injured her ankle.
I've got to tell you: I've been praying hard that tmatt — and not me — would be the next member of our team struck by a painful malady. But apparently, GR's head honcho has deeper connections than I realized.
For me, that realization came just before midnight Friday when an excruciating pain struck my lower back. I immediately suspected the culprit: a kidney stone.
I had experienced the same ailment last summer and figured I knew how to treat it. I started chugging water and popping Tylenol and Lortab. I ran repeated hot baths and found a little relief in the tub. I repented of many sins and asked God to take away my punishment (I don't claim perfect theology in the state I was in!).
Mainly, I lay on my bed and alternated between moaning and groaning.
I was home alone — with my wife and daughter visiting my in-laws in southeastern Oklahoma and my sons enjoying down time in San Antonio after a spring-break mission trip to Mexico. At some point, I decided I needed to go to the emergency room, but I didn't want to call and wake up any of my local friends in the middle of the night.
By 7 a.m., I couldn't take it anymore.
I grabbed the previous day's pants out of the hamper and put on my Nikes (sans socks). And I drove to the hospital. Fortunately, we don't live far from Mercy Health Center in Oklahoma City.
Before I even got to the end of our street, I realized that I had left my cell phone on the kitchen table. For a split-second, I considered turning around and going to get it. I quickly decided against it. I did remember to bring my insurance card.
The kind folks at Mercy got me into a room quickly. The nurse gave me a gown to change into and a plastic bottle in which to provide a urine sample. I was a little slow providing the sample. So I was standing in my boxers — having not yet put on the gown — when the nurse returned. The good news: I was in no condition to be embarrassed.
Soon, nausea and pain meds were flowing through my IV — and within just a few minutes, I felt a million times better. If I could carry a tune, I would have sung hallelujah for all the hospital to hear!
Not long after that, they rolled my hospital bed into a CT scan room, where they confirmed a kidney stone. The doc told me it was near my bladder and small enough that it should pass without much trouble (without much "additional" trouble, I guess I should clarify). He prescribed some meds, and just like that, I was ready to go home.
Except that the nurse said I couldn't drive myself given the narcotics I was taking. And except that I left my cell phone at home, and the list of actual phone numbers I know is quite short. I asked the nurse if the hospital had a phone book. It took her a while, but she eventually returned with the Yellow Pages. Those of you old enough to remember phone books will know why that's funny.
I did finally reach my wife on her cell phone. She called a friend who -- much to my relief -- picked me up at the hospital and delivered me home.
You'll be pleased to know (maybe) that I passed the stone and am feeling much better, although I'm still a little weak today.
That much-too-long personal story is my way of warning you that I'm really in no condition to be critiquing mass media coverage of religion. But life goes on, so I thought I'd call your attention to an interesting story that I came across today.
It's a piece by Godbeat pro Greg Garrison of the Birmingham News. Here's the lede:
Jesus told his disciples at the Last Supper, "Do this in memory of me."
But how often should churches celebrate communion?
While liturgical churches such as Catholics and Episcopalians make Holy Eucharist the centerpiece of weekly worship services, a new survey shows that evangelical churches on average celebrate communion once a month.
The February Evangelical Leaders Survey asked: "How often does your church serve communion?" The vast majority (70 percent) said once a month.
“Throughout church history, Christians have celebrated the Lord’s Table in many different ways and with varying frequency,” said Leith Anderson, President of the National Association of Evangelicals. “Right now, the trend among evangelicals is once a month, which seems to balance taking communion regularly while not replacing the central role of the sermon in most evangelical worship services.”
I belong to the Churches of Christ, a non-liturgical fellowship that partakes of the Lord's Supper each and every Sunday.
I found Garrison's angle interesting and compelling and would love to see other religion writers report on the survey and provide more insight and details on the practices of various Christian groups.
Given the current state of my squishy brain, I believe that's all I'll say about the subject for now. I'd urge GR readers to check out Garrison's full story and share your analysis and questions in the comments section.
And oh, by the way, drink plenty of water and clear liquids.
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