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Today was my first time going to church on Christmas Day in years. In many, many years.
And, I am very glad that I went.
I was baptized Lutheran, at the Community Church in Cedar Grove, New Jersey (this is a recent pic). My father was Catholic, my mother was Lutheran, and we LIVED right next door - 45 Bowden Road. The church was (still is) at 65 Bowden Road. So, Lutheran it was!
When I was around 10 years old, we moved to Boca Raton, Florida and my parents actually sold our Cedar Grove home to the church. It became the Pastor's residence. Middle School and then my first two years of High School were in Boca, then we moved back to New Jersey. My last two years of High School were at Essex Catholic - boys only. Yeah, going from Boca Raton, Florida - to Newark, New Jersey. Talk about culture shock!
So, even though I was technically Lutheran, I was now listed as Catholic. That was OK by me. At this point of my life it was like toe-may-toe... toe-mah-toe. I'm mean as a teenager in the 70s, a Christian is a Christian, right?
Back then, If someone asked me my religion, I would say Catholic. I mean, in all the cool horror movies of the 70s, the Devil always was up against a Catholic Priest, right? So, I would say that I was Catholic even though I really was not. It was like the Catholics were "the Yankees of Christianity."
I was not a big church person until I got married. My wife was Catholic, I was still (technically) Lutheran and I really did not care very much about the labels. When we were expecting our first child, conversations about church and religion came up, as in - how were we going to raise our kids?
I went through RCIA - Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. The Order of Christian Initiation of Adults (OCIA), or Ordo Initiationis Christianae Adultorum, is a process developed by the Catholic Church for its catechumenate for prospective converts to the Catholic faith above the age of infant baptism. Candidates are gradually introduced to aspects of Catholic beliefs and practices. The basic process applies to adults and children who have reached catechetical age.
OK, so I did what it took to make it official. But, I tend to not do things small. Next thing you know, I am on my way to becoming a Catholic Deacon.
Deacons are members of the clergy along with priests and bishops. The deacon's ministry has three dimensions: liturgy, word and service. At the liturgy, he assists the bishop and priests. At the Mass, the deacon proclaims the Gospel, may be invited to preach the homily, and assists at the altar. Deacon candidates are required to participate in a series of workshops and training over a four-year period.
Two years into my formation, it became clear that with two little kids at home, and a business to run - I did not have the time for all of this. Family first. I put my Roman Catholic Diaconate formation on pause.
So, I went from being baptized Lutheran, to saying I was Catholic, to actually becoming Catholic, to (almost) becoming a Catholic Deacon. Now, I am "just a Catholic" who never goes to church. And, every year, less and less people (of any faith) attend church. Many blame COVID for this trend, but I think there are many other factors to this decline.
So - of course - all of this religion stuff made me think of... Zoom.
And BlueJeans by Verizon. And GoTo. And Webex by Cisco. And Adobe. And Microsoft Teams. And just about any/every collaboration technology in the world.
The world's largest religion, Christianity, is practiced by about 2.4 billion people. The country with the highest number of practicing Christians is the United States, with a Christian population of 253 million. By 2050 there will be near parity between Muslims (2.8 billion, or 30% of the population) and Christians (2.9 billion, or 31%), possibly for the first time in history.
I wanted to become a Roman Catholic Deacon, as it seemed to be a good way for me to give back. A good vehicle for me to pay it forward.
Diakonos means to serve. To take care of the poor. Now, at the age of 62 I fully realize that you can be a good person - you can be a good "Christian" just by being, well, by simply being a good person.
The brand or the title is not what is important. If you have the basics of being nice and kind down, if you have the key factors of being a good person, everything seems to always work out just fine.
So, I see Zoom as being Christianity - as in - having the most video collaboration market share as we wrap up 2022.
But Microsoft Teams, and WebEx and BlueJeans (and the rest...) are also good collaboration religions. They also do good work in their own ways. They all provide a good service, they all serve a purpose and deliver to their customers a business outcome. They all just do it a little differently than their competitors - differently than their neighbors.
And, over time, things can come and go. Brands shall come and go. I think that the lesson of my Christmas Day 2022 blog is this: just be a good person (or company) and everything will work out just fine.
We are all have different skills and talents. We are all different by design. Being different is a very good thing indeed. In business, in religion, and in life.
My First Christmas Day Mass
( in many, many years)