“Taking the soup.”

Jimmy Doyle gives testimony in a Newsweek “My Turn” column about his coming to the Episcopal Church so that he may follow Jesus as the gay man he is.

He writes:

In October 2005 I took the soup. To an Irish Catholic, “taking the soup” means going to the other side, turning Protestant. During the famine years, one could get a bowl of soup if one sat through a Protestant service, which meant automatic excommunication in those pre-ecumenical days. So the slang was born, implying desertion of the One True Church in order to make life easier.

I suppose what I took wasn’t soup, but it was comfort. I took a life steeped in the mystery and rhythm of the church along with what I hoped was a life with the integrity of being an open, practicing gay man. When I turned to the Episcopal Church, I saw a Christianity that was alive and evolving, one that delighted in difference and saw God’s creation in many things, including women and openly gay men serving as priests and bishops. I saw a chance to get past the separation and sanctimony of the more vocal Christian presence in American society, and a challenge to get to the more nuanced and tricky teachings of Christ—loving your neighbor and all that. I hoped to live and worship as I was created, not as I was condemned. And so I took catechism at St. Thomas the Apostle, where the smells and bells made me feel at home, although the challenges of parish life made me want to sleep some Sundays. After six months of classes in the teachings of the Anglican faith, I was “received” into the communion in a high mass attended by friends and my partner, with not a dry eye in the house. The healing I felt as I stood before the assistant bishop and reaffirmed my faith was, without a doubt, of the Spirit.

Faith is, in and of itself, full of strangeness and coincidence. In my more self-pitying moods, I wish I weren’t so hungry for God, so greedy for meaning. I wish I could be “spiritual but not religious,” thereby bypassing early Sunday rising and the challenges of community. I could stay home, not have to be a part of anyone’s club, not have to deal with any idiosyncratic behavior, anyone’s out-of-tune singing, anyone’s kiss of peace laden with flu germs, anyone’s behavior that keeps me from my high-flown aspirations and the saintly life and eventual Oprah tribute I just know is in me.

Read: Newsweek: Let me worship as I am.

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