Different types of spiritual communities

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

When Some Turn to Church, Others Go to CrossFit

Do you have a “church”? For those who actually go to church, is that your “real” church in the sense described in the article?

I can tell you that for those who are a little too old for Crossfit, I’ve seen Aqua Fitness classes function as “church” in every place I’ve ever lived. They even served that way for my dad before he died. The entire group at the pool sent a very touching sympathy card when he passed.


85 thoughts on “Different types of spiritual communities

  1. DH is religious (prays daily), spiritual (meditates regularly), and has a racquetball league at his gym which he has regularly attends.

    Me, I stick to this virtual “church”, as Sky so aptly puts it.

  2. I don’t go to church or CrossFit but I do have one friend who is really into both (I would say CrossFitters do seem somewhat zealous about the whole thing).

    My neighborhood is full of awesome caring people that will really go the extra mile to help you out, so I think that’s probably as close as we come to a community here. We are like a lot of people these days – far from actual family so we rely on friends and neighbors for help.

  3. I think religion has always served a need to gather as a community. One of the reasons, I think, that church going fell off so steeply in western Europe is that they tend to have a lot of community bonding outlets that are not tied to a relition. In the US, we don’t as much, partially because we are so spread out, so church fills that need. Although I understand that church going is falling off dramatically here in the US too, even in the evangelical mega churches

  4. I have neither a church nor a community of neighbors. I sometimes sing at the church down the street for Xmas so that I can scratch that itch, but DH is vehemently atheist and would never join a church. (If I were super motivated I could get the kids to go to church, since it is done by the time DH gets up, but if I’m not singing in the choir I don’t like to be there either.) I think the closest would be my choir, but I feel friendish with them and not friends.

  5. I go to church. There are lots of opportunities there for community and bonding. There seems to be a group for every person. I’ve also been asked to join the neighborhood book club. If I wanted to, I could quit making excuses and join one of these groups. In my mind the excuse for not joining is because these groups meet on weekdays. Another is, being parent in charge, I don’t want to commit to another activity even if it is for me.

  6. Our family belongs to the local parish. DW was raised in the Catholic church and has become more religious over the years…very involved in the workings of the parish, on 1-2 committees…and feels a sense of community there.

    Me, not so much. Forced into religion by a not-very-religious mother, I pretty much dropped out of that right after my bar mitzvah. Let’s be charitable and say I’m agnostic, though that’s a stretch most of the time.

    I guess my biggest issue with “organized religion” represented most of the time to me by our local very well off / funded parish is what I will call the hypocrisy of it all. If everyone is so da(rn) serious about helping out those less fortunate, why isn’t tithing progressive like the tax system? How come the well-off totebaggers are only asked for 10% total, half of which for the parish, (not that too many donate at either level, IMHO) instead of a higher amount if the goal is really to level the playing field?

    Though not crossfit, maybe my gym is my church. Though it’s not particularly social with most folks coming in alone, doing their thing, then leaving.

  7. I’d say I fall in the agnostic grouping…no specific church. Took my kids when they were younger on days they asked the school kids to sing in the choir. My biggest issue is the people who state their devout religious beliefs loudly and repeatedly, yet they are saying and doing things so far away from what they say their beliefs are that it is hard to keep a straight face.

    I find support, though not so much spiritually, from different groups that I belong to.

  8. I don’t find my support in my immediate religious community. I was raised with jewish traditions, but my parents rebelled against their stricter religious childhoods, and I did not have a bat mitzvah.
    I felt so disconnected from my religion that I felt comfortable attending college/grad school affiliated with another religion. I think my grandmother was very uncomfortable, but I was fine.

    We belong to a synagogue now because DD wants to be part of a Jewish community. We have the luxury of choice here because there are so many synagogues within close proximity. We participated in a few before we had to formally join one so she could start religious school. I have tried to set a good example by attending often, and I started to feel like I did belong there. I was learning a lot too. It is a very inclusive community, but then we got into the bat mitzvah process.

    The stress of the process, the threats, fees, date selection, secrecy etc – I just don’t want to be a part of it. We will remain members as long as necessary, but I am not sure what will happen when she is done with her education because I just want out. I feel deeply connected to the traditions and history associated with Judaism, but I feel nothing for the community in that synagogue.

    I feel connected and have support from my immediate neighborhood, but there are frenemies lurking all of the time in the mom support network.

  9. I am a “none” in the parlance of the article. My kids have seen more of the inside of a church over the last couple of years thanks to their participation in a youth chorus, though. In fact my older son has been reading the Bible to entertain himself during long rehearsals. I’m not sure if he’s made it out of the Old Testament yet. Hope Christmas isn’t too much of a spoiler!

    I buy the various secular communities as communities that serve many of the same functions as a church/temple/kiva/mosque/etc., but I would think relatively few of them are directed toward spiritual or moral awareness in the way we associate with a place of worship. I know CrossFit people can be sorta evangelistic, but still.

  10. @Lauren – threats ?
    In some communities including in the home country the celebration of first communion was like a mini wedding, a huge deal. I really liked the more low key celebration we had here with my kids, kept the focus on faith, family with blessings from the community.

  11. We have recently been attending a UU church (though DH likes to argue that you can’t be a church if you can’t take a stand on the existence of God). I like that it provides some friends separate from school for my oldest. There seems to be a lot of disaffected teens – trenchcoats and blue hair — that attend on a regular basis. I actually appreciate that – our local school seems to have a lot of pressure to conform (it’s public, but I have yet to see a boy with hair below his ears). I like that the kids are getting some formal religious education that provides a framework for cultural references. There is a lot of emphasis on, “it is your job to figure out what you believe”. In the summertime, the older kids spent an hour each week interviewing a volunteer from the congregation about what they believe in and how they arrived at that understanding of the world.

    On the other hand, we started attending to find community and we have not really found other families that we ‘click’ with. Part of the problem is that the time when people socialize (before and after church) the people with young kids are keeping young kids from pouring hot coffee on people without young kids. Hard to make new friends.

  12. yes. many threats. I have one sitting on my desk right now. W shave to sign a paper that states that we will attend three meetings as a family in Jan, Feb, and March. The tone of the letter is clear. If we don’t make all three of the meetings, we have to explain to the clergy our extenuating circumstances of why we can not all be present at those three meetings. 2 – 3 hours each on different Sat/Sundays. there are also “threats” about what will happen if DD doesn’t attend a certain number of Saturday services before her BM, but they have to be in the same year.

    Don’t forget, I am paying serious dues and tuition for this pleasure.

  13. the best threat I received was int he seconds before I walked down the aisle to get married. My husband asked his childhood rabbi to marry us because it was important to him. I met the guy one time before we got married, and he seemed nice enough. On the day we got married, it was so hot that it broke a record. The record still stands. I didn’t want to put my veil over my head because I was so hot. He actually said that he wouldn’t marry us if I didn’t cover my face with my veil for one small part of the ceremony. We joke about it now, but it just reinforced my belief about why I don’t want to deal with some of the rules of set by the clergy or temple administration.

  14. Using Lauren’s definition of threats, we have a ton of them. Don’t attend this meeting, your child cannot play sports, go on the school trip, etc. Don’t sign this form and your child won’t get to choose an elective. Don’t sign up to bring something to the school holiday party or contribute to the teacher/coach gift and you will be talked about behind your back for weeks, months or even years as the slacker.

    I tend to stay away from that word (threats) because it is loaded, but it is definitely a form of coercion. I realize some is legal…a minor cannot grant permission for certain things, but some of it is annoyning and destroys the sense of community.

  15. “My biggest issue is the people who state their devout religious beliefs loudly and repeatedly, yet they are saying and doing things so far away from what they say their beliefs are that it is hard to keep a straight face.”

    Well, yes, but then we are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God. And of course hypocrisy is not an exclusively religious thing — one might describe many politicians in the same way.

    On the original question, we had a great parish community back in the DC suburbs. These were people who also lived in the neighborhood, sent their kids to the same school, and belonged to the neighborhood swim club. So it was possible to have real relationships with them that did not require signing up for parish activities or groups. And although many portray DC and its suburbs as transient and power-hungry, we made some of our best friends at the parish. One of the benefits in that kind of community was the inclusiveness and welcoming attitude that develops when there are always new people arriving.

    After our move, we started attending Mass at the campus Newman Center with other folks who are also not attending their home parish. But the universality of the Catholic Church and liturgy means that you can always feel that you belong to some extent, even if you don’t know any of the other worshipers. My evangelical friends here are far more “connected” to their churches than we are — their worship services are more social, and they seem to participate in more small prayer or Bible study or food bank groups. But their churches have far fewer members. We probably regard our church more like a gas station — we go to fill up and then go back out to the world. Some people, including many lapsed Catholics, criticize this approach to religion but I believe that Christians should be out there interacting with others instead of hanging out with our church or parish groups.
    Others disagree, especially those who are surrounded by people who don’t share their faith. If I were Jewish or Muslim here I would definitely be getting a lot more support from my religious community.

  16. I grew up with a “church home” where we went every Sunday for 8:30 am service followed by Sunday school, then back in the afternoon for some combination of choir practice, handbell choir, and youth group, plus Wednesday evening dinners & services during certain times of the year. My very best friends were from this group, a few of whom I’m still close with today. My parents are still very active there, even though they travel so much that their attendance is now probably 50% or less. I was just there over the weekend and commented to my mom that all but two faces in the choir looked exactly the same, and she said that their membership has really dropped off as the old people die and families move away. They are constantly out in the community trying to get young families involved. It was kind of sad to see the huge sanctuary that was built when I was a kid, and in which I was married & my child was baptized, nearly empty.

    I have not found this type of church community for the second half of my life. I somewhat regularly attend a church that I like, but I have not really gotten involved in any activities because of conflicting commitments at the times of groups I’d like to participate in. I do have a tight-knit group of women that I met initially as a professional networking group but they have become my best local friends. I get my spiritual fulfillment through involvement in a charitable organization, and I get my shared-experience community by being a college sports fan. One thing I have never had though, at least not since I was about 7 years old, is one “best friend.” I have several close friends from different stages of life (childhood, college roommates, mom-friends), but I feel like I have always missed out on having that one special person.

  17. Interesting discussion. I have attended a Lutheran Church my whole life. I do have a sense of belonging to a community there.

  18. I used to do Karate and that was very much like a church in many ways. The sensei expected people to volunteer and fundraise for the organization, even though we were already paying to train and paying even more for belt exams and such. I did make a lot of great friends.

    Lauren, when my older brother was near bar mitzvah time, my mother looked all over trying to find a temple that would do it without us having been members. She finally found one where the cantor worked out an arrangement without checking with the rabbi. The rabbi balked at it initially but finally agreed because he didn’t want to go back on what the cantor said, but he was very clear they would not make the same concessions for me later. I ended up not having a bar mitzvah for many reasons, including that we’d have had to join a temple for an obscene amount of money.

    We’re currently members of a Congretational Church. It’s a great community but we just don’t got very often because we usually have other things going on, or we’re just too tired.

  19. I grew up in no religion. My DH grew up in a traditional Catholic world, with religion classes and Catholic school and the whole shebang. We decided to do church when we had kids. If it were up to me, we would do the local Quaker meeting since that is closest to my own beliefs. My DH likes more ceremony, though. So we ended up at the Episcopal church, where I would say 75% of the members are refugees from Catholicism. My DH is among them – he gave up on the Catholic Church with the last pope, and his experience in Catholic school was such that he said NEVER for our kids.

  20. I could never get my head around requiring payment to be a member of a religious group or paying to go to holiday services like they are a music concert. Seems so contrary to the messages being taught.

    Went to church my whole life, until I didn’t. I nurture my soul by volunteering and by spending time in nature with my hounds and I am lucky to have a community of friends that we have built as a system of support and camaraderie.

  21. We belong to a Catholic parish and attend every Sunday. It’s very much a community, but the community is based on the school. We didn’t send our kids to the school, so we aren’t really part of the community.
    My community is based on the schools our kids did attend.

  22. I guess I am one of the few ones today who readily admit that their church gives them spiritual sanctuary. I treasure my hours each week where I can seek solace, pray, and shut up. How religious I am is, I guess, up for debate, but I do believe, raise my kid in my church (which uniquely down here doesn’t hate anybody) and try to practice its teachings on a daily basis. After all, there are only two or so of the ten commandments that I quibble with.

  23. Raised Catholic, including school 1-5 and 10-12, long story about 6-9 in pubic school. Got a good education, if you disregard parts of the theology and one of the priests I was taught by. In hindsight, someone should have be concerned about his behavior with kids. But, no one thought about it like that in those days.

  24. I do miss the “home” feel of having a congregation. My family was non-religious, and I voluntarily joined the Episcopalian church as a teen. Never been a huge fan of services, but the youth group was awesome, and the way the church supported us as we grappled with personal/political issues was even better. To this day, the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy” pops into my mind periodically and always uplifts me.

    Our current synagogue is great — very welcoming, even to mixed-religion couples like us, and they’ve never made me feel different or an outsider. Yeah, a lot of the stuff was new to me — mandatory dues? mandatory X years of school to qualify for a bat/bar mitzvah? mandatory number of appearances at services during bat mitzvah year? etc. etc. etc. But they’ve been flexible and reasonable on everything, keeping the “process”/”rules” part to a minimum, so it hasn’t been an issue at all. And the people are great; I have made some very good friends there. DD has decided she doesn’t believe in God, but she still insists on going to the teen class Thursday nights and loves working as an aide on Sundays. It’s a good group of people all around, and I love watching my kids learn these generational traditions and take on their roles in this community.

    But it’s still not my home. I am learning some of the prayers, and I even like some of the tunes and am getting a better understanding of the service and the different prayers. But in the end I still feel like I did when I visited the Lutheran church in law school: they did all the same hymns I knew, but in a minor key, and I just flat-out like my uplifting major key. So it is a good place with good people and good friends, but not my own spiritual home.

  25. PTM,
    I also readily admit that my faith gives me spiritual sanctuary and grounds my life. Most of my deepest friendships are with people whom I met in connection with Catholic parishes or organizations. But there isn’t a particular church community with which I have a connection in the way that some have described.

    I also agree with RMS on the “water aerobics as church” thing. I have seen the participants at our pool signing group cards more than once. But I think that most of them also attend church churches. It’s almost a given with certain age cohorts around here.


    I see your point about requiring payments for religious services. But someone has to pay the bills that keep the place running. Unfortunately, some people won’t contribute unless there is a required payment. Catholic churches don’t operate that way (at least, I have never heard of ticket sales for Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve), but it seems to be common at synagogues to require tickets for services on High Holy Days. For most of my Jewish friends, that is the only time they attend services and it would be SRO and a fire hazard without tickets. At least, that is what they tell me.

  26. I am not sure why my mother, who married a Gentile and decided not to follow her childhood faith, chose for us to belong to the UU church including Sunday School and Christmas tree. I guess she just thought attendance at organized religious services/instruction was a part of a proper life. She was fair skinned, very conventional, our last name was WASPy, so we unintentionally “passed” in the wider world (mixed marriages were common in the UU congregation) so that acquaintances were, in the fashion of the day, casually anti-Semitic in front of us. I got to sing in the choir, and learned every sin in the book at Liberal Religious Youth. I prefer my religion or whiskey straight, not diluted, so I have no fond memories of that 15 year experience. My ex found the religion of his youth formalistic and empty, and after his conversion we attended as a family for a while, but none of us ever really felt comfortable in any sort of evangelical congregation – too much hierarchy and conformity. None of my grown kids is interested in organized religion of any stripe, but they don’t mind the cultural stuff. What their heartfelt beliefs are, I don’t know.

  27. Scarlett – I get the business side of it but there are crowds at Easter and Christmas too. I’m not really judging just wondering as it feels like something that would exclude and stratify a congregation according to means – like I said, maybe there’s something I don’t know.

  28. @LfB – love church hyms. Can sing them all and the Holy, Holy, Holy and Lamb of God. Went to a Christmas chorus concert over the weekend and I said to my husband “This is perfect! All the songs of church without the church.” Yes, I know it is odd, but I’ve never claimed not to be odd.

  29. Moxie,
    Yes, there are certainly crowds of C&E Catholics at those masses. But one difference is that there are lots of opportunities to attend Mass at Christmas and Easter. In most communities, especially major metro areas, there are many parishes, all with multiple Masses. But the High Holy Days seem to be a one- or two-shot deal, from what I can tell. The services last all day so there is only one of them. And outside of some heavily Jewish communities, there are usually only a handful of synagogues to choose from.

  30. I am with Moxie on church hymns. Maybe because I grew up with them, their lyrics and melodies have followed me and given me solace and hope through many difficult periods. Mind you, there are many, many dreadful hymns that slay all but the most devout fuddy-duddies. Three favorites come to my mind immediately (although one is not a Christian hymn):

    How Great Thou Art:

    Verse 1:
    O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder,
    Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made;
    I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
    Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

    Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee,
    How great Thou art! How great Thou art!

    Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee,
    How great Thou art! How great Thou art!

    Verse 4:
    When Christ shall come, with shout of acclaimation,
    And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
    Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
    And then proclaim, “My God, how great Thou art!”

    Or two of the verses of that old Warhorse Amazing Grace:

    Verse 2:
    Through many dangers, toils and snares…
    we have already come.
    T’was Grace that brought us safe thus far…
    and Grace will lead us home.

    Verse 5:
    When we’ve been here ten thousand years…
    bright shining as the sun.
    We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise…
    then when we’ve first begun.

    Or from America the Beautiful:

    Verse 4:
    O Beautiful for patriot dream
    That sees beyond the years
    Thine alabaster cities gleam,
    Undimmed by human tears!
    America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
    And crown thy good with brotherhood
    From sea to shining sea!

    The first inevitably runs through my mind at times of great joy or times when I need to just get a grip. The second I believe got me through the loss of my wife. The third, of course, the loss of colleagues in The World Trade Center.

  31. “O God Beyond all Praising” (set to the theme from “Jupiter” in Holst’s “The Planets”) This is the second verse:

    Then hear, O gracious Savior,
    accept the love we bring,
    that we who know your favor
    may serve you as our king;
    and whether our tomorrows
    be filled with good or ill,
    we’II triumph through our sorrows
    and rise to bless you still:
    to marvel at your beauty
    and glory in your ways,
    and make a joyful duty
    our sacrifice of praise.

    I first heard this at the funeral of one of my son’s high school classmates, and I will never forget it.

  32. My favorite hymn is St. Clement (#24) with the descant by Adrian Lucas, followed closely by Hyfrydol (#657) with the descant whose author I can’t remember, and Repton (#653), ditto, and Slane (#488), which is too low for me but I really like it, and finally Praise my soul (#410), with the descant by Lang. (Note, this does not include any Advent/Christmas/Easter hymns nor any hymns which are chant.) :)

  33. The word synagogue comes from the Greek for meeting, by extension meeting place. In Yiddish the central meeting place is referred to as “shul” or school. The word “church” comes from the Greek loosely meaning Lord’s house. Jewish religious laws do not require communal worship, but it is encouraged. All that is needed is ten worshippers – no special building, no rabbi (teacher), no cantor (singer). There is no clergyman equivalent to a priest. There are no sacraments, although circumcision for males is required – anyone can perform it on a male of any age – in early times it was the father who did it and even today it is done at home or in a hospital or a community room.

    The point is that the edifice is not the same as a church. (There is no national denomination.) The congregation comes together to hire a teacher and prayer leader and service workers, and to rent space or build a building. I have worshipped communally for free without a ticket whenever I wanted to, even on the high holy days, and in various settings – not just the university. Since bar mitzvah is a communal rite of passage (but not a sacrament or formal requirement for adult participation in religious life) following several years of Hebrew study and introduction to the history and responsibilities of the community, it is expected that the immediate family will participate in some sort of congregation. In our region, there is a full range of groups from those that cater to mixed marriages (or go out of their way to encourage the religious education and participation of children whose parents are completely lapsed or indifferent) to the ultra orthodox.

  34. Moxie, it is free/discounted if you can’t afford to pay at all of the synagogues we visited in our community. I don’t know how it works in other communities, but we are very familiar with the fees at four local synagogues. The fees are similar, but they all have programs if you can’t afford to pay. I admit that my opinion about annual dues was just like your thought until I started to understand the overall operating costs. I studied the financial documents for each congregation. The buildings, programs, staff need to be paid for, and it is the members of the synagogue that pay for all of these services. There are separate fees if you send a child to religious school, or a preschool. The synagogues that we visited are very transparent about income and expenses.

    Our synagogue is financially sound, but it is the 80/20 rule. Even though most of us pay the annual dues, only 20% make any additional donations. I’ve described the houses that I drive past to get to this synagogue, so luckily the 20% that do make donations are able to make large contributions. My synagogue recently opened a food pantry because there is a different portion of the community – also about 20% that can’t pay anything, and and needs support.

    There is a movement to move to pay what you want/need instead of receiving an invoice. There is one synagogue that moved to that model near us, but it has only been a year and it is too soon to tell if it will work.

    As a life long NYer, I was unaware that one of the largest and wealthiest property owners in NYC is the Catholic church. I learned this in my real estate class during my MBA program. The Catholic church is in a very fortunate position of having assets that help to support certain programs and staff.

  35. Milo, I don’t own that coat or ski, but have always liked Columbia outerwear when I’ve bought it :)

    I just ordered DD’s North Face fleece, after making sure it was what the other girls had but in a different color. Also got her bearpaw boots – could not bring myself to pay $120 for Uggs she will outgrow by March.

    She has made friends with another girl in the class, who was also being picked on for being different (child of immigrants). It’s made a big difference in her mood.

  36. My daughter had a Columbia jacket with the similar 3-in-1 design that she adored, but has outgrown now. It did seem to work well to keep her warm and dry in the snow.

  37. I like the coat. I think the new materials allow Columbia to offer a very warm coat without all of the extra bulk. The feature of the lighter jacket is nice if the type of weather that we are having this year continues into 2016 because the full jacket might be too warm unless the temps rally drop like last year. It is long enough to have decent coverage, but the cut still looks feminine.

    Sky, I have to buy a new north face fleece every 1 or 2 years depending on growth. I do try to buy larger so it can cover 18-24 months. The cost per wear is worth it because the kids get a lot of use. the quality is such that you should be able to re use to a younger child. I consign DD’s because there is always demand and the quality is very good even though lots of wash cycles.

  38. I have, too, Sky. I know your DD’s having a difficult time with some of the kids in her class, hence the North Face, and we have a few North Face things, but personally, as a confident adult well past my days of worrying about schoolyard politics, I’m kind of resenting the brand obsession with North Face. Still, I looked at a few different brands in a few different stores today, and Columbia seemed like a good value, compared to North Face and LL Bean. Then back to Amazon to find the actual color and size I want. It seems like stores don’t even bother trying to keep a reasonable stock any more other than what’s needed for display purposes.

    I actually bought the “Interchange” jacket, which is similar, but without the patterned finish.

  39. I mean the Bugaboo Interchange.

    As for GPS watches, I bought the Garmin Vivoactive that someone mentioned. I saw it in Best Buy, and it had a nice, big screen but still felt light. Amazon has it down to $149 now.

  40. My daughter’s outgrown Columbia jacket will go to my MIL’s church charity. Lots of kids on the nearby res need winter stuff so I’m sure it’ll be well used.

    It was from Ross’s in the first place so didn’t actually represent that big a purchase.

  41. Milo, North Face and Columbia have been popular here forever. Cabelas jackets also work well for skiing in our climate.

    Moxie, you should look for the Festival of Lessons and Carols broadcast from King’s College Chapel on BBC or whatever. Our old church does a similar service. This year we sang all the verses to Joy to the World, Once in Royal David’s City, Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, Of the Father’s Love Begotten, O Come O Come Emmanuel, Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming, What Child Is This, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen, Go Tell It On the Mountain (children’s choir) and Silent Night. It was fun because my boys are finally good enough readers to muddle through the words.

  42. Milo, I just ordered a pair of Columbia Bugaboo pants this morning to replace another pair of Columbia pants. We loaned the pair that DS has been using to BIL last spring, and now neither he nor we can find it. We’ve had a number of Columbia outerwear products, and been happy enough with them to get another.

    That said, for skiing, I like jackets with an elastic or drawstring waist, both to better hold warmth as well as to minimize the amount of snow that goes up the jacket in the event of a tumble.

  43. Ooooh, is it time to share our favorite Christmas songs?

    Here are a couple:

    I think the local station that plays Christmas music 24/7 starting at T-Day plays all the songs from this album.

    A couple weekends ago, DD was walking around the house singing along with this, which I really liked (both hearing DD enjoying herself, and Jesse J using what sounds to be like the same arrangement that Kay Starr did, but with better recording technology):

    And Kay Starr:

  44. Finn – I thought this was a good price. I also bought her a pair of the Bugaboo pants. Her current skiing outerwear is over a decade old. We’re going to CO later this winter.

  45. Amazon has deals on retro toys, including Rummikub, which we have stashed in the closet as a hand-me-down game but have never played for some reason. My H’s family used to play this game a lot. Look how they’re they’re marketing it now.

    Reinforces STEM skills … When kids play, it reinforces STEM and STEAM concepts such as sequencing, pattern recognition, and planning skills.

    I’m going to bring it out to play and test it out. It’s rated very highly on Amazon.

  46. “But the universality of the Catholic Church and liturgy means that you can always feel that you belong to some extent, even if you don’t know any of the other worshipers”.

    This is the biggest thing for me. I didn’t realize it until I left home. It is a way of keeping the connection with my grandparents and those in my family who have passed away. My grandfather who had been a pillar of his parish became disillusioned with the church as an organization due to the behavior of the religious towards his daughter. Even after his trust was shaken and he kept his distance from church affairs, his faith still endured.

  47. I love many of the songs mentioned, some of which I remember from my Catholic upbringing. We used to attend real midnight mass, at midnight. But I’ve never heard of Man with the Bag. I noticed for the first time this year that my kids were very interested in listening to my Christmas playlist, which includes songs ranging from Ave Maria to Please Daddy, Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas. I think I’m creating memories. :)

    We don’t do church, even though I’d like the community. But I just can’t bring myself to participate since I don’t have the faith, and plus I’m too lazy to make the commitment.

  48. As North Face and Patagonia products have increased in price I’ve been changing over to Columbia gear. I’ve been really impressed with their durability. Plus, you can bring back the jackets that no longer fit and they’ll give you a coupon on your next purchase. Just bought a new kids jacket this weekend, but had to order the bugaboo snow pants from Sports Authority.

  49. Hijack – Hoping Mooshi is around to comment.

    Recently, I found out that a family we know due to children in the same activity put their adopted child up for adoption and has found a new family after initially adopting from another country roughly two years ago. Of course, we don’t know all the details as the family is not one we are close to. However, the news is spreading among other families in this same circle, so I’m sure my child will find out soon through the grapevine, if I don’t say something first. My problem is, I’m not sure what to tell my child.

    Any words of wisdom?

  50. On topic, I was raised Catholic and as the kids have gotten older we have become regular church goers. I teach sunday school and regular participate in activities outside of the sunday morning routine. I’m more involved in the church than my parents were when I was growing up. I like the community and find comfort in friendships I have formed. Most of my family is out of state, so it is comforting to know that if anything were to happen, I could have spiritual support locally. I don’t agree with a lot of the Catholic teachings (and sometimes ponder if we should be Lutheran), but my church is liberal, open, and welcoming, so on a local level, it works for us.

  51. “The Catholic church is in a very fortunate position of having assets that help to support certain programs and staff.”

    Except that many of these assets are parish properties, and they don’t generate income unless they are sold. Many, probably most, Catholic parishes have the same 80/20 issue you described. It’s astounding to read parish financial reports and discover that only 10% of the registered members are contributing more than $25 a week. There is a widespread but totally false perception that Someone Else will cover the expenses, especially in larger parishes where people don’t know each other well. It’s also amazing that so many people are still putting envelopes or loose cash into the collection basket when they could be setting up regular contributions with online banking, making things much more efficient on both ends.

    IMO the collection basket should be retired. Then the parish would not be providing envelopes for people who DO make automatic contributions so that they can toss in the empty envelopes rather than letting the basket go by.

    But a lot of older guys would be out of a job.

  52. @Scarlett – at our parish they stop providing envelopes if you do automatic contributions. Then you pick up a card when you walk in, and throw that card in the basket when it comes around. The cards get reused for each mass. Still having the basket allows the children to see that we are giving to the church, and gives them a chance to throw their quarters in. Our church learned this technique from the local Lutheran churches.

  53. We aren’t church members anywhere, but when we attend the church that supports my kid’s school, we contribute. What blows my mind is two families, who as church members pay discounted tuition, are fairly vocal about how they don’t contribute much to the church in time, talents or treasure unless they also are receiving a benefit. The school/church has (somewhat quietly) stated that they expect church families attending the school to give as much as they are able, but ideally as much as they would otherwise pay in tuition. The tuition is not tax deductible, but the contribution to the church is, so the church still sees it as discounted tuition.

  54. It’s also amazing that so many people are still putting envelopes or loose cash into the collection basket when they could be setting up regular contributions with online banking, making things much more efficient on both ends.

    Eeeek Guilty ! Since the envelopes arrive at our house we have used them, never thought to look an the online option since, there hasn’t been any announcement of that option.

  55. It’s also amazing that so many people are still putting envelopes or loose cash into the collection basket when they could be setting up regular contributions with online banking, making things much more efficient on both ends.

    I’m guessing people don’t want to be locked in to regular contributions and want to have flexibility in their giving.

  56. Rhett – no one ever directly says that, but it seems to be well known that it is the ideal.

  57. DD, I was talking about the comments that the largely NMSF male debaters made a couple decades ago about the numerous pregnancies, not about sarcastic comments in the article. Comments involved ideas like, “Know when to say when” (to avoid pregnancy). I figured Finn would know exactly what kinds of comments such guys would make.

  58. “I’m guessing people don’t want to be locked in to regular contributions and want to have flexibility in their giving.”


    For us we give a set amount monthly but then there are at least these special occasions when DW also likes to give, generally different and smaller amounts:
    Easter Flowers, distinct from
    Annual Memorial Mass for our son
    All Souls Day
    Christmas Flowers, again distinct from

    Not having looked into how sophisticated the auto-draw system the church has set up, maybe we could actually set the whole thing on autopilot.

    I’d just prefer to decide on the annual amount we’ll contribute and divide by 12. Let the parish finance committee figure out how to use/deploy the $$. This includes the endearing “2nd collection” for this week’s special case. Which I detest. Just roll it all into one budget; we’ll contribute well onto the right tail of the curve. Then you decide.

  59. Re: the synagogue dues and tickets to the High Holy Days, here is how ours does it:

    1. We are directly billed for dues every year. There are discounts and financial assistance available for families that cannot afford it. The dues statement even says very clearly that they don’t want to make anyone feel like they cannot attend because of financial constraints, etc. The dues are based on the ongoing costs, and the statements are available for anyone who wants to see. I was shocked at the amounts when I saw the first statement, but I’ve come around to thinking this is much fairer, more predictable, and more up-front than relying on the collection plate (Lord knows I never put anything close to that in the plate over the course of the year, and my church didn’t emphasize tithing).

    2. We have to call/send in a form for High Holy Days tickets, saying which service(s) we will attend. This is due to space concerns. This is truly like nothing I ever experienced at Christmas/Easter services: the synagogue uses a shared multi-faith space for regular services, with maybe 20-30 families in attendance; for High Holy Days, they rent out a local high school auditorium or performing arts center, and they still sell out.

    3. The tickets to those services are free, you just need to register. However, the one requirement is that you have to be up-to-date on your dues. Note that this is whatever dues plan you agreed to six months before. So it’s less “pay to play” than it is “honor your commitments, and come talk to us if you have a financial problem.”

    4. We are currently re-evaluating the fairest dues structure– there is a group that is meeting periodically to discuss this, and all synagogue members have been invited to participate. As it currently applies, we pay a little extra (i.e., “round up”), but very likely not as much as if dues were directly proportional to income.

  60. You can set up autopay for any payee with most online banking sites. You don’t have to use whatever autopsy system your church runs. That way, you are always in control and can adjust the amounts up or down as you like. And St year end you KNOW how much you contributed without having to keep track of it or wait for the statement your church sends in January.

  61. Scarlett, I know. But it’s more of how DW likes to do it. Maybe having something to do with putting the envelope in the basket? In the spirit of choosing my battles, it’s truly low on my fix-it list. She writes the checks (which are funded by direct deposit from her paycheck, so I truly have to do nothing).

  62. Denver – Monarch? We have kin in the area who are planning it for us, so it was *one less thing* we had to research. There’s also a significant discount on lift tickets through her work.

  63. Milo, that’s a nice smaller area. I’m assuming you’re taking the kids. The small ski areas are nice because you can park in close, you don’t have to schlep all the gear and the kids for miles on shuttle buses and such. And there’s just one base area, so if you get separated everyone ends up at the same place. And at the smaller areas, generally the food is more reasonably priced and they don’t mind if you bring lunch.

  64. Great! That’s what we were told about it. We’re bringing the kids, and supposedly my SIL is going to manage their lessons.

  65. Milo, one concern I would have about Monarch is the elevation. Their website indicates the base elevation is 10,790′. That’s significantly higher than Breckenridge (9600′), where I and others in my group had altitude sickness.

    Where are you staying? I believe it would help if you are staying at a lower elevation. You might also want to check with your physician about Diamox.

    I personally will probably avoid anything much higher than Vail (base elevation 8120′) unless my lodging is at a lower elevation, or if I have an extended period to adjust to the altitude (e.g., spending an entire season there). Even at Vail, I could feel the altitude, even though on that trip we were able to ease into the elevation a bit by flying into Denver the day before and spending a night there.

  66. Hmm. We’re not sure if we’re staying at their house (much lower elevation) the first night, or if we’re going straight to the VRBO condo near the mountain.

    I don’t have a physician. I have Patient First. But I’ve spent two Spring Breaks in the skiing mountains near Salt Lake City, and the only adverse altitude effect I noticed was that my hot chocolate was pitifully lukewarm, at best.

  67. @Milo, IIRC, the Wasatch areas tend to be lower elevation at the base than some of the CO mountains. I’d take Finn’s advice — we’ve definitely had problems with visitors and sometimes the kids in Taos, and even I tend to get about a 2-day headache there.

  68. Milo, if your condo is near the base of the ski area, that’s probably significantly higher than anywhere you stayed at Utah, probably at least 2000′, which in my experience is significant.

    Also keep in mind that you’re not the only one on the trip.

    If your kids have regular pediatricians, you might want to consult with them in advance.

  69. Finn, are you able to tolerate diamox without any side effects? They had my daughter on it for seceral months for the headache stuff and the side effects were brutal on her – she’d feel nauseous and dizzy with almost any activity.

  70. DD, yeah, after my experience with altitude sickness at Breckenridge, the next time I went to Vail (even though I’d been there before), I got a prescription for Diamox, and had no problems, either with the altitude or with side effects.

    Those side effects sound a lot like some of the effects of altitude sickness, minus the pounding headaches.

  71. Finn, they do, that’s why I find it odd that it’s used for altitude sickness. Of course my experience with it is based on a sample size of one.

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