The Quaker in Me


Don Quayle, 47, is a man of faith. Sort of. He is not an ordained minister, but he does have a church. And a congregation.  According to Quayle, there is only thing missing: The Presence of God.

First off, I’m not a Quaker. Let’s get that sorted right here and now. I’m not even sure what a Quaker does. Don’t they make breakfast cereal? (laughs) Okay, I know what a Quaker does. I’m just saying I’m not one. And I don’t like breakfast (laughs).

I still don’t think of myself as being religious. I believe in some almighty spirit, but that does not have to be, like, a person. It is a being. A big and important being to be sure, but still, just a being.

Maybe that is enough. Just knowing. Why do we need proof that It exists? Do we demand proof that there is actual orange juice in our orange juice? I don’t know about you, but I don’t.

So yeah, I went to an ‘organized’ church when I was younger. I had to go. My mother said she would beat the ever-lovin’ Jesus out of me if I didn’t go.

So you bet I went. She was a big woman. There are still rumors she killed our father for missing one sermon. (laughs)

I used to draw pictures in the bible. Women’s breasts and things. Well, I mean, no one else could tell what they were. I’m not an idiot.

Sometimes I went to sleep proper. Not for long. Just a wee catnap. It was wonderful! So refreshing. I used to call them my Sacred Siestas.

I’m not anti-religious. I just don’t like organized religion! You know, the sacraments. The confession booth. The line-dancing. The whole Secret Santa thing. (laughs)

I call the Catholics The Chocolate Church. They are dark, bitter, sometimes sweet, nutty, soft on the inside.

And you get on a bus these days and someone says hello and your first thought is: Oh oh. JW! [Jehovah’s Witness, ed]  You can spot them a mile away. I mean, man, if my shirt was that stiff it would cut open my carotid arteries. What a way to go. Not for me.

So, how did I get here, to the Church of Cosmic Intervention. Or Cozy for those in the know. (laughs)

Well, to be honest, I looked at those other churches and thought: I can do better than that. I know!  How utterly and profoundly sanctimonious! Right? I can do better than the Church of God!

But I thought, why not take the best of organized religion (the pastries) and mix it in with, you know the best of 70s alternative culture (group sex and drugs) and make something better. (laughs)

But seriously, there really was something to that whole ‘me’ movement in the old days. I know it is poopooed on now but that does not mean it did not have value. The only reason it failed is that people were so distracted with being happy that they forgot to renew their subscriptions to Sports Illustrated or to buy a new car ever 3.5 years. Big business said, good lord, we have to put an end to this! So they did.

But the search for self? The rejection of the Church Consumerism? That is as valid now as it was then.

So that was my guiding light, as it were. My back to the future.

Cozy lives. It breathes. It gives something back. We do a food program, we have a pair of Macs in the basement, free wifi throughout the church, singles meetings on Thursday. The whole shebang.

So, no, we don’t have a vault filled with gold. Or world-wide membership. Or jazzy uniforms. All we really have is just a… faith. And isn’t that what it is supposed to be? Faith?

Now a faith in what, right? That is your question. Rightly so.

Well, it is a faith in whatever you believe in, yes? What does it mean to you. If you come here and mingle with this crowd, your faith probably won’t center on the power or money or the desire to screw your dentists’ wife. You can go to those ‘other churches’ for that.

So CoCi is a church for the rest of us. You want comfort and joy? You want to reconnect with humanity. Short, snappy sermons? Give something back to the community? Sing a few hymns? Have a few sandwiches with the crust cut off? Make a small weekly monetary donation to a worthy cause! (laughs)

Well, that is Cozy. Short and sweet. You sit, sing, laugh. You can listen to me babble or you can think about all the things you did not have time to think about all week because you were so caught up in the rat race. Your choice. That is Cozy.

You should drop by for one of our services. They start at noon. Yes, noon. No way I’m getting up at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning.

Well, I do get up at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning but I spend it reading the New York Times magazine and watching CBS Sunday Morning.

Most of our congregation is doing the same thing.

And to be honest, sometimes I don’t even write my sermon until I finish that morning ritual. There is usually something in there that resonates. Right? I get ideas, thoughts, concerns. Just like everyone else in the congregation.

So really it is win-win for all of us.

© 2016 James Porteous

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