infant-baptismTO MY readers who were just too happy to have not seen this column for the past three consecutive weeks, I’m sorry to tell you that I’m back. I’ve been too busy attending lousy pre-Jordan seminars to remember that I have an obligation to ruin your Tuesdays.

And when I say lousy pre-Jordan seminars, I really mean “lousy” pre-Jordan seminars that ruin most people’s Sundays.

To those who are not familiar with traditional religious practices, a pre-Jordan seminar is a momentous family event that proves true the religious saying that the road to holiness is paved with burden. The way the seminar was handled, it was a really a burden to all of us 130 parents, godparents and infants cramped inside a small room shut tight from the unbaptized world outside. But I will leave it at that.

Our baby is now officially a Christian, and he has to deal with that by himself when he’s old enough to read Aramaic.

“Pre-Jordan” is derived from the root words “pre,” meaning before, and “Jordan,” meaning the Jordan River that was named after a famous basketball player. I’m not making this up. Try googling “pre-Jordan” and that’s what it shows. I don’t know what basketball has to do with baptism but it’s there. But deep inside I have a strong suspicion that “pre-Jordan” has to do with Jesus Christ being baptized by John the Baptist at the River Jordan.

Anyway, some well-meaning friends had warned us not to go for infant baptism, saying parents must wait till their babies are at least 18-years-old (in which case they are already 18-year-old babies) when they can exercise their legal right to decide for themselves which bikini bar to go. They can start their own religion while playing in a metal band, for all we parents care. They are 18 and they are entitled to their own beer. But for now, they have to be baptized.

There was a fierce religious, philosophical and diaper-related debate within the family on this matter. There was the wife and I favoring infant baptism in one corner and in the other corner the infant himself presenting no real intelligible argument other than attacking his mother’s breasts every minute or so.

Wife and I to infant: “Hey dude, you cannot say baptism only applies to adults. Jesus’ teachings about baptism apply to both adults and infants. Matthew 19:14 says, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.’ By children Jesus means you, infant boy. I learned that in prep school, dude.”

Infant: (Stares blankly at parents, and with a piercing scream that shatters doors and windows launches itself at full speed towards its lunch).

Like in any court of law, a violent reaction always works against the person, especially if the violence is aimed at an innocent pair of milk-manufacturing body parts. Since the infant decided to waive its right to defend itself in a civilized discussion, the family had no other choice but to decide in favor of infant baptism.

And that’s how the three of us and a bunch of godparents ended up inside a multi-purpose room in one of the city’s parishes two Sundays ago, listening to a lay minister spew out fire and brimstone like he founded the Catholic Church 2011 years ago.

Which brings me to my real topic for today: The End of the World on May 21, 2011, which was last Saturday. In fairness to my friend Harold Camping, there were actually several earthquakes that took place last Saturday. But we were too busy laughing at him to notice the world shake.

To quote the person who uses “insoymada” in his Twitter account, “I believe in Harold Camping. It’s just that Jesus doesn’t keep his appointments sometimes.”

I would have wanted to present my own End of the World calculations here, but I only have a little more than 140 characters left, which I will reserve for my email address and other contact info. And I don’t want another diaper-related religious debate with this newly baptized little boy here right beside me.

(SUN.STAR CEBU, MAY 24, 2011)