Many know me by the Bronze Mad Hatter Tea Party Sculpture in Evelyn’s Park titled Move One Place On. Evelyn’s Park was created for a loving mom by her two sons. The sculpture is there in memory of her. So when you go to Evelyn’s Park and enjoy looking for the 150 hidden things I put in the sculpture in honor of the 150th anniversary or chat with the characters, know it is Evelyn you must thank.
My Favorite Winnie The Pooh
I have always been a Winnie The Pooh fan. So, I’m looking for a place and a patron for four sculpture scenes of this beloved story. These scenes will be the destination site for many visiting Houston.
The beloved Winnie The Pooh has entered the public domain as of 2022.
Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon hopes to create another beloved bronze scene for the Houston area, featuring Pooh and his friends.
Mongeon seeks a patron to assist in creating the scenes along with wooded property to house these four scenes from Pooh’s adventures and the beloved story by A. A. Milne.
Inspiration will be Shepard’s original illustrations recreated with a touch of Mongeon’s interpretation in bronze, as she did with the inspiration of Tenniel’s illustrations for Alice in Wonderland.
The installation of each of the pieces will stagger over 24-48 months, building anticipation. We will install these together in one space, along a trail, or an area—a Hundred Acre Wood type setting, where families must walk to find each scene.
Pooh and Piglet at His Thoughtful Spot
This is one of the smallest of the scenes. Though Shepard does not portray the “thoughtful spot” this way, Mongeon sees a log in a scene that overlooks a special part of a park. Pooh and Piglet sit on the log, leaving room for others to pose for photos.
Poohsticks is played by many. In this scene, Pooh and his friends are on a bridge throwing in sticks. Toss them in on one side and run to the other to see whose stick comes out first. Others are encouraged to toss in the sticks and watch who wins. People hold Poohstick championships around the world.
( This installation is a bit more tricky as it requires plumbing for water and a place where the owner does not mind children throwing things in the water to see who wins.)
This is the largest of the scenes, with an entire bronze playground consisting of Pooh Stuck in Rabbit’s door and Christopher Robin trying to pull him out. Imagine the selfies of others visiting the park, grabbing onto Christopher Robin and trying to pull Pooh out as well.
Visitors can go around the burrow and through the rabbit’s back door to find his kitchen and Pooh’s legs dangling from the door. Rabbit is in a terrible state. The visiting children can play house, sit at the rabbit’s table, or even push on Pooh from the inside. This bonze will be a favorite stop for many.
Eeyore’s Birthday Party
This is a table scene a birthday party for Eeyore, with all the characters and extra space for little guests. Tiger, going into the public domain in 2023, can be added to this scene.
How to Purchase These Scenes
I am looking for a buyer for a public location preferably in Texas, that would like to commit to purchasing each of these scenes. In whatever order is best suited for the property. Contact me if you are interested in providing the best selfie spot and a way to interact with your childhood, in memory of a loved one, or just because.
Since 2018 with the installation of the Monumental Sculpture of Alice in Wonderland’s Mad Hatter Tea Party Called Move One Place On in Evelyn’s Park, Bellaire, Texas, I have been committed to bringing the public the hidden 150. What is that? Well, I hid 150 things in the sculpture in honor of the 150th anniversary of the story written by Lewis Carroll. When I was through with the sculpture, the park asked for the list of the 150, and I said no. I wanted to encourage literacy and curiosity, just like Lewis Carroll and Alice. (Please note, if you are looking for the things, it is not just what is hidden in the sculpture, but you must point out where it is and the meaning to either myself, Lewis Carroll, or John Tenniel—the original illustrator of the stories.) Of course, if you have the Annotated Alice, that does help some. I’m sure many who love and study Lewis Carroll will know many just by looking. Another warning, looking for the 150 hidden things is addicting. Leave plenty of time when visiting.
With that in mind, slowly, I’m taking some of the hidden items, bringing them to light, and making Christmas ornaments. Making ornaments is not necessarily new. We have been doing this in past years, but their production was grueling for my studio. Enter my new 3D printers. Lewis Carroll, a mathematician, would have loved that I am creating these using the cartesian coordinates in space using math and 3D printing. I’m so stinking excited about how these 3D-printed ornaments are coming out.
The first 3D print was not a hidden item but is one of my favorites in the scene. It is the dormouse in the teapot. I love that he is sleeping on tea bags. Of course, tea bags would not have been used in the days of Lewis Carroll, so I have artistic license. as I do in the rest of the scene. If you get this ornament, look at the bottom of the teapot. You will see just how good this 3D printing is, as it holds my favorite saying. I 3d scanned the dormouse from the original sculpture and then modified in the computer and 3D printed it out. Each ornament is hand stained. Right now, all the ornaments are stained bronze, similar to the original sculpture. Some people have asked if other colors are available. I’m open to suggestions on this. Would you like to see all silver or all gold?
Working in 3D was so much fun. Morphing things became very easy, and so the cabinet in the scene of Alice falling through the hole is one of those experiments that I loved. Has she grabbed the jar yet? I did change this one a bit from what you see in the art at the park. There is something inside the open drawer.
Cards That Paint the Roses Red
I loved creating these cards for the scene, and the originals I used in the park were sculpted using some 3D-printed parts. I experimented with the faces of three people. David- 7 is a friend who also posed for the Mad Hatter’s body. I love it when friends are willing to pose in costumes. While I had him, I put a hood on his head, and he became number 7. Allison was an intern at the time. She and I combed the costume places, trying to find just the right costumes that I could use as a reference for the entire scene. Allison is confrontational number 2. Finally, my son-in-law, Bill, was the model for the number 5. His hands are raised with the attitude of, “Wait, wait, let’s all get along here.” Buy them individually or as a group.
The White Queen
There is a ton of emotion around this one. many years ago when I was first learning to sculpt digitally I created a portrait of my mother in Mudbox. When the monumental Alice sculpture project came about I had to have mom in there. Of course my family shows up in many other ways in the entire scene, but mom as the white queen was important to me.
We will go back and add the original ornaments redesigned for 3D printing and also add them to the shopping cart. If you would like any of the 2022 pieces please visit the shopping cart and place your order.
When I’m not sculpting or writing, you can find me out in the woods. I love nature. I started the Houston Women’s Hiking group to help ladies hike safely. We are now over 7,000 members. I love to encourage.
As many know, I have a YouTube channel for my art and one for the Alice project, but I also have another more recent one called Women Stepping Outside. The channel encourages women to step outdoors or step outside of their own emotional or spiritual confines to reach what they truly want to be. If you are interested in this channel, please subscribe. I’m having so much fun posting videos about the outdoors and encouraging women in life. You can also find Women Stepping Outside on Facebook and Instagram
Now, about this video and blog post.
I can’t build out my van for camping as I use it to haul sculptures and materials. However, I do love to camp and, I also have to travel for work, and my preferred lodging is my van. Slowly I have made modifications for my van, not permanent build-outs, but things that can be taken in and out of the van as needed.
My family and friends have purchased trailers. I love the ease of having a van and picking up when I want to, without having to go and get something, pay for a rental space etc. But I needed to make it a bit more comfortable so, I have done a few things like building out my bed and building this grub box.
A Camp Kitchen/Grub Box or Chuck box
The reason for having a grub box is that it keeps all of your kitchen and cooking things in one spot when camping. As this video states, I have gone through three in my life. They have gotten smaller over the years. This new design is my own, and I love it. Who would have thought a hunk of wood would make me feel so liberated? The design started as cardboard. Then I found this wonderful website called cutlistoptimizer.com. If you want to modify my design, just put your configurations in, and it will lay it out for you. How cool is that? I ended up not using wooden shelves and instead used only these drawer below that were hung on 2×2 rails. Less wood means a lighter grub box, which was my intention. Remember to account for the thickness of the wood when you are working out your dimensions and putting things together. My box is 20 inches wide by 17 3/4 deep by 22 1/2 inches tall. The box that sits on top is 20 inches wide, by 17 3/4 deep by 5 1/2 inches tall. The wings are 10″ tall (The measurements below don’t fit the latest version of my box, Some of the pieces I didn’t even use, but using cutlistoptimizer will make your configurations work just fine.)
I got mine from the Container store. They come in two parts- the drawers and the runners. Figure out what drawers you want, and then build your cabinet around that. I thought there were no drawers for the size of my grub box when I started, then, my daughter Christina Sizemore found some. She is excellent at finding things and helping others organize their trailers. My design was not wide enough to accomodate the drawers we found, so, I had to notch some things out. I might even make the grub box a bit deeper so the drawers could pull out easily. Otherwise you will have to assemble the drawers as you build the box, as I did. But that is up to you. As those who use their vehicles for camping know, every inch of space is accounted for.
The box for my drawers says the surface area covered is 16-7/8 x 20-3/4 inches with drawer installed.
You can get furniture grade pvc from Home depot. I did have to order the colored fittings through Formufit. The plywood I used was from home depot and I used 2×2 firing strips to frame the box and use on the wings for mounting.
When contacted by Homespun Haints about doing a podcast segment, I was, at first, a little reserved. I mean, what I do is very intimate. But the ladies handled the subject about sculpting the deceased with great dignity. I thought I would put together a blog post with some links to the things we talked about on the show. If you have not heard it yet, here is the link to the podcast The Woman Who Sculpts the Deceased.
I mentioned that Texas Country Reporter did a wonderful segment on my work with deceased loved ones. Here is that video.
“Bringing To Life The Spirit of The Deceased A Sculptor’s Journey” is the name of the book that I wrote in my undergraduate studies about my work with the deceased. I wish I had a publisher for it. I have been searching for a new publisher and or agent for several books. In this book, I documented four commissions Lucas, Patsy, Janine, and Richard. I also recored what it took to make those commissions, the unusual experiences and some of my journey about this gift, and the overabundance of empathy that enables me to connect to the deceased through their surviving loved ones.
It is true. I develop a relationship with the deceased through my artwork.
For those interested in knowing some of the research, I loved studying Paul Eckman’s facial action coding system and its relation to my ability to “feel” things from my subject matter. Funerary art is a fascinating subject, and the psychology and science behind the face and emotion will always intrigue me.
I mention the mirror neuron study. PBS has a great episode on Mirror Neurons for anyone interested. Neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramchandran has some excellent research on this subject.
- In my undergraduate research, I asked two questions.
1. How do I capture the essence of someone I have never known. 2. How do I cause an emotional reaction from my viewer. Of course, I had to take a hard look at my heightened empathy. You can imagine when, at the end, through the commission that was a suicide I discovered the science behind what I do. It blew my mind.
- The sculpture commissions I spoke about were Lucas, Patsy, Norma Janean
- I love cemeteries and the cemetery sculpture I spoke of was of Victor Noir in the Pere Lachaise cemetery. “The statue of Victor Noir, famous for a protuberance in its trousers, has been touched by thousands of women since being placed in the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris in 1981.”
- On the Homespun Haints podcast I spoke of the podcasts that my mother and I did. Actually it was mom, my daughter and myself. “Inspiration Generations, Three generations of christian women share their thoughts about different issues and aspects of life.” I started these because mom was homebound or often bed bound and this was her ministry. Here are some of the ones that I think might be of interest.
This podcast talks about the unusual circumstances and visits that Barbara had while in the hospital. The deceased came to visit. The experience of helping Barbara transition from this world to the next was incredible. Her daughter and granddaughter share some of the beautiful spirit lead moments before Barbara’s death and how God had the entire experience in his hand.
In loving memory of our co-host mom and grandmother, Barbara Ingersoll
On August 17th, 2009, Barbara Ingersoll went to be with the Lord. However, she will be greatly missed; however, her ministry and this podcast continue with her many years of journals.
In this one I talk to mom about the death of a mom, just a few months before her death. Death is inevitable, but no one wants to go through the process of losing their mom or dad. It is part of being in the “sandwich” generation, and Bridgette shares her recent experience of holding her best friend’s hand as she sits in ICU and then the death of her friend’s mom. The women share the Jewish traditions of death and burial and the connection between Bridgette and her best friend.
Then the women talk about gaining wisdom as we grow, and as we gain experience, we help the generations that come after us.
I have not talked about all of this in a long time and it was fun for me to revisit the commissions, the unusual circumstances and my documentation. It has been a fascinating journey, as is each new deceased loved one that I get to meet.
I have been working with Booker T. Washington High School to create, not only a sculpture for their school, but also some educational blog posts for their Booker T. Washington Sculpture blog. Here is one on the scanning of booker T. I love this.
FROM THE SCULPTOR’S STUDIO
If you remember, back in September I reported about my friend Tom who came and scanned the small sculpture and the chair for me before I had to put the small maquette of Booker T. through the mold-making processes. I’m so glad he could do that and wait to get paid because, as you can see, the sculpture was damaged in the mold making process. If I waited to scan until after making the mold for the foundry, I would have had to fix the clay, and it would not be as it was when it was approved. He was glad to use this as an educational process for his nephew. Lex is a freshman at UT Arlington and is studying aerospace engineering and scanned the pieces.
In this educational video on 3D Scanning we talk about the process and much more. The scanner used on this project is a Creaform.
the art. Join us but remember we are all mad here.
Sculptor/Author Bridgette Mongeon would like to invite you on a “curious” adventure- a free online webinar about creating her monumental sculpture titled “Move One Place On.” The bronze sculpture is of Alice In Wonderland’s Mad Hatter Tea Party.
Space for the webinar is limited, and preregistration is required. Some lucky attendees will receive gifts from the artist. October 18, 2020
In Evelyn’s Park in Bellaire, Texas, just outside of Houston, there is a monumental sculpture of the Mad Hatter Tea Party. In honor of the 150th anniversary of the story, the artist also hid 150 elements. Many have asked her for a list of the hidden 150. Those who know the stories of Alice In Wonderland will have an advantage. Mongeon will be revealing a few of the hidden elements in the webinar.
This is also a wonderful webinar for those interested in STEAM/STEM education-the interdisciplinary education incorporating Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. Mongeon offers free resources on STEAM education as it pertains to Alice in Wonderland.
How was the sculpture Made?
What was the inspiration behind the sculpture?
How long did it take?
How does the artist work with technology and fine art?
Mongeon will also be sharing what is happening now with the art.
You are invited to a Zoom Webinar.
When: Oct 18, 2020 01:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada)
Length: 1 1/2 hours Q and A to follow.
Topic: Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon and Alice in Wonderland Sculpture
Register in advance for this webinar:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
Welcome to Wonderland in Evelyn’s Park.
Drawings will be picked from attendees for the chance to receive—
- One of the hidden 150 objects as a Christmas Ornament. $15-20 value or
- an online class with Bridgette Mongeon $35
- A gift from Tea in Texas. $25 value teaintexas.com teablessings.com
- A $50 gift certificate provided by Betsy’s. If you have not tried their food, they are located in Evelyn’s park. Grab a meal and walk over and eat it in Wonderland at the table with Alice, the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, Cheshire Cat and Dormouse.
To find out if you have won, please follow Bridgette Mongeon’s Instagram page and watch for announcement. If you visit the park and take pictures don’t forget to tag the artist. She is always looking for the most cleaver images of interactions in Wonderland.
Created for Best of Artists and Artisans web site
By Bridgette Mongeon © 2008
Immediate action is needed concerning the
Senate Bill S. 2913 and House Bill H.R. 5889, the Orphan Works Acts of 2008.
America is known for the country that protects an individual’s rights. It is impossible for me to comprehend that my rights as an artist may soon drastically change, and that I could lose the rights to all the work that I have ever created. When I first heard about this, it was so unbelievable that I thought that it must be a prank. But, with further investigation I found it was not. In this article I will include a little about what I found and links with other articles for readers to peruse so that they can make their own informed decision. I am also setting up interviews with several people including Copyright lawyers, those in the writers unions, and even those in the American Federation of Television and Radio artists, to name a few. There is urgency in acting and spreading this information. For whatever reason, this is moving through congress quite quickly and will affect your rights and possibly your income as a creative person.
As I find more information and create these interviews, I will pass them on to the Editors at Best of Artists and Artisans sculpture blog to be posted at their discretion. I will also post all of the information that I find on my home page blog, located at https://creativesculpture.com/blog
COPYRIGHT LAW AS IT STANDS TODAY
First, a few basics about copyright law as it stands today. According to the copyright law of 1976, everything that you create is protected by copyright from the moment you create it, even if it is not registered. This is the way copyright is handled throughout the world. It was defined by the Berne convention, which is an international agreement concerning copyrights.
With the current Copyright law, you do need to register your work if you want to collect for statutory damages for infringement. If, however, your work is registered and you discover someone has stolen it and you file suit, statutory damages are punitive and can be quite severe for those infringing on someone’s rights. This very idea keeps many people honest about “taking” other people’s artwork.
“It is not what it appears to be, it is a Trojan horse… Under this orphan works legislation, nothing you do would be protected unless it is registered with these commercial registries… they are orphaning all unregistered work” Brad Holland
THE CHANGE IN LAWA radically proposed change to the US copyright law allows infringers to exploit the right of copyright holders with little or no penalty according to the Orphan Works Opposition Headquarters (OWOH). “Two bills currently on the “rocket docket” would let infringers “orphan” any copyrighted work whose owner the infringer failed to locate through a vaguely defined “reasonably diligent” search. The creative arts industry, including world-renowned artists, designers, photographers, manufacturers, and licensing businesses have united to oppose this legislation.”
The New Orphans Work Act declares that nothing you do would be protected unless you register it with a registry, placing a burden of diligence on the copyright owner. It must also be stated that even though these bills are moving quite fast through congress, registries do not, at this time, exist. These would be private registries where an artist would be responsible to register their art. In other words, every artist will have to pay to own their own work and each of their pieces will have to be registered, right down to the sketches in their sketchbook. If they are not and someone comes across your work and they search these directories and do not find it, then they can say that they performed a “reasonably diligent search.” They can use your work at no cost. As I comprehend the ramifications of this, the works that are presently copyrighted would also have to be reregistered. The cost of registering each piece of artwork, nevertheless the time that it would take to register each piece of artwork throughout an artists lifetime, makes this task impossible and prohibitively expensive.
It is interesting to note the following—It is a violation of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works for any country to impose registration on a rights holder as a condition of protecting his copyright. See Article 5(2) “The enjoyment and the exercise of these rights shall not be subject to any formality (emphasis added).”, (From How the Orphan Works Bills Affect Visual Artists. Illustrators Partnership of American)
According to some of the interviews that I have listened to a creative person would also have to police their artwork, making sure that no one has taken it or it may be considered orphaned.” It is also said that you would have to reply to all inquiries on your artwork or it might be considered orphaned. All of this hardly leaves room for an artist to create.
OWOH states, “The new bills would severely “limit” financial penalties for infringing. Opponents charge this will encourage deliberate theft because statutory damages are the only tool the law gives copyright holders to prevent abuse– and they say it works. Penalties for infringement almost certainly deter rampant abuse by making it risky. But as medical illustrator Cynthia Turner notes ‘the new bills would protect infringers by denying artists damages, incurred court costs, attorneys’ fees and other expenses.'”
“Because these bills were planned behind closed doors, introduced with little warning and fast-tracked for imminent passage, a broad-based coalition of artists and trade associations say they have had little time to respond and generate public discussion. They say that a radical change in intellectual property law should not be rushed through Congress without public vetting. They are calling on Congress to slow down this legislation until it can be subjected to an open, informed and transparent public debate.”
Those in support of this bill are libraries and educators that claim that this bill is intended to give libraries and museums greater latitude to commercialize archived works. But, according to tp the OWOH, “critics charge the bills have been drafted so broadly they would permit any infringer to commercially exploit any copyrighted work, from professional art to family photos.” Those supporting the bill say that if artwork is worth something it should be registered. But if it is not worth something why would others want to take it?
Brad Holland of the Illustrators Partnership of America comments on the bill, ‘It is not what it appears to be, it is a Trojan horse… Under this orphan works legislation, nothing you do would be protected unless it is registered with these commercial registries… they are orphaning all unregistered work”
I encourage you to become familiar with the bill and take action accordingly. Your rights may be fading away without you even knowing it. If you would like to have your voice heard, The Illustrators Partnership of America has made it quite easy to take action. You can go to the web site and send an email, but faxes and letters are also encouraged. Please keep coming back for further information on this subject and send a link to this blog to other creative people that you know.
Don’t take my word for it. You must decide how important this is to you. Here are some places to start.
- A wonderful resource of articles about this bill put out by the Illustrators’ Partnership
For comprehensive bill descriptions that describe the impact on visual artists:
House Bill http://capwiz.com/illustratorspartnership/issues/bills/?billid=11320236
Senate Bill http://capwiz.com/illustratorspartnership/issues/bills/?billid=11322171
- Video interview with brad Holland of the Illustrator’s Partnership
- American for the Arts on the Orphan words Legislation
- American Society of Media Photographs Update on 2008 Orphan Works Legislation
- Lawrence Lessig’s Op-Ed piece, in today’s New York Times
- Art Calendar article on the Orphan Works Act that also talks about Microsoft’s and Googles involvement.
- Public Knowledge concerning the Orphans work act
- Orphan Works Opposition Headquarters
- Plagiarism Today has several articles about the subject
- Attorney Tammy L Browning- Smith discusses the orphans works and Washington DC in her online blog Arts and crafts law
- Photography Director Rob Hagart discusses H.R.5889 ORPHAN WORKS ACT OF 2008 (INTRODUCED IN HOUSE) on his online blog
- An article from The Artist Foundation about the Orphan works Act
- The American Society of Media photographers throws in the towel and gets behind the bill, Johnathan Bailey describes why in this article ASMP Supports Orphan Works Bill. This site also has a video
- Mind Your Business: Don’t Lose the Rights to Your Artistic Creations, Animation World Magazine’s Mark Simon reports on alarming new developments in his continuing campaign against the Orphan Works Act.
- Why the Orphan Works Act is Uncles Sam’s Thieves’ Charter written by the Editorial photographers United Kingdom and Ireland
- A podcast with Alex Saviuk cartoonist of the spider man comics
“As a figurative sculptor I am entranced with the human form, male, female, young or old.”
Created for Best of Artists and Artisans web site
By Bridgette Mongeon © 2007
Recently the editors of this column wrote me concerned that people were shying away from sending in nudes to the Best of Artists and Artisans art competitions. Are nudes a controversial subject to submit? As an artist I would certainly have to evaluate each competition carefully, before entering a nude. I posted this same topic on the sculpture community forum and received some enlightening responses.
Here are some of my own experiences with nude/naked art.
The human form is an important element of focus for any artist. My husband, who is also an artist, and I are always telling art students, “Draw from life, and make sure you can draw the human form.”
Working with nude models and creating paintings and sculptures of nudes are all part of the learning process. There was a time when there were more nudes in my repertoire of art. Although I rarely sculpt a nude these days, it is not because I have outgrown them. It is because of my very busy schedule, working with a live model would be a luxury; working from a live nude model would be a way to relax. All my work is through commission and I keep very busy doing just that. Unless someone commissioned me to create a nude, and I have had a few of those, then you won’t see many nudes coming out of my studio.
By far the piece that gets the most attention and always initiates comments from those who enter my studio is “Ethel” – a nude. It is also one of my favorites, and if I crave to do other nudes, it is because I have fallen in love with “Ethel” and want to see more of her, no pun intended. The Ethel sculpture startles individuals, but at the same time seems to make them secure within their own body.
Before the time of digital cameras, I would take pictures of the nude model, with their permission of course, and when they were not at the studio I could continue to work on the sculpture. There was a time when I was banned from coming to the local pharmacy photographic processing center, until they learned more about what I do, but even then they suggested I take these “type” of photographs to a professional lab.
The most controversial of nudes is the child nude. During the creation of “Le petit pollison,” individuals were concerned that you could tell the sex of the baby. It infuriated me that I should change my art to appease what others thought, but in the end I compromised by pushing down the child’s rear end.
I love sculpting children. I long to study that tiny little form, watch the process of the growth of the skull and bones, and yes I desire to sculpt nude children. To be perfectly honest I long to sculpt every human form. I’d love to find another Ethel, and would also love to sculpt a very old person as a nude. The thought of it immediately brings to mind the science behind what I am doing, how does the muscle and skeleton change over the years? But more than that, what emotion is exhibited from each form? The young child with his/her plump cheeks and swayed back, rear end sticking out and chin down initiates a feeling of innocence. On the contrary the frail form of the elderly, stature bent over with time, skin hanging, exhibits the ravages of life and in that wisdom. As a figurative sculptor I am entranced with the human form, male, female, young or old. When that longing is transmitted to the clay, accompanied by the emotion and the artistic passion, it can become an award-winning piece of art, one that, with the proper competition, could be submitted to without hesitation!
I have attended church for many years. There are many benefits to belonging to a church, for those non-churchgoers let me explain. I live very far from my family. My mother, father, sister and brother live over 1,500 miles from me. When going through life, it is often difficult to not have the support of a family that lives nearby. In many ways the church, and those people that I have met at church, have become my family. Whenever I have gone through milestones in my life, they were there. When life became difficult, I knew I always had a support group of people who would be there for me and encourage me and help in any way possible. And, when I had wonderful milestones; they were there then as well.
Getting up on Sunday morning and committing to going to church is not easy. It is not even easy for those who do it regularly. Many mornings I wake up and think, “Ahh to sit in bed with a cup of tea and watch Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood.” As difficult as it is to get myself motivated to go to church, upon returning home, I am always glad I went.
Church is an investment and you do get out of it what you put into it, but over the many years of attending church, I have come to realize that the investment is a very important one. I have tried to instill this same investment within my daughter. When she was young there were plenty of times she would whine about the idea of getting up and getting dressed and going to church. Sometimes, as she sat fidgeting in the pew next to me while coloring on the pew sheet, I would wonder, “What is she getting out of this?” As she matured, I realized what I gave her was the knowledge that she too had the support base of a church family and a strong faith in God. No matter what happens to me, she would have God and the relationships that she would establish as she grew up and moved away and attended another church.
GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH
According to recent studies, going to church has more benefits than we knew. In recent years psychologists and those in medicine have conducted research on the idea that having a spiritual relationship with God and a spiritual relationship with a group can actually be good for your health. Some of the ideas and research are quite basic and easy to understand. For example when people are anxious or irritated for long periods of time, it will suppress their immune system, which in turn makes them susceptible to illness and disease. Psychologists have studied the idea that developing close relationships can have a positive effect on your health in several ways: First, by physically in creating your immune system. I also affect you emotionally as it helps with coping skills and offers those individuals in the relationship a place to vent and receive direction. Of course, close relationships can be found through other groups, but they are most often found within a spiritual family such as a church or synagogue.
Religious involvement can also playa part in the health of individuals because it encourages individuals to have a healthier life style, avoiding such things as alcohol, drugs, promiscuous sex, etc. Relationships that are found in a spiritual setting also offer a place where an individual can confide feelings. Dr. James Pennebaker discovered that the expression of your feelings can have a positive affect on your health, increasing your white blood cell count.
There are over a thousand studies that work with the relationship between spirituality and health. In a report sited by David Myers, “A National Health Interview Survey (Hummer & others 1999) followed 21,404 people over 8 years. After controlling for age, sex, race, and region, researchers found that nonattendees were 1.87 times more likely to have died than were those attending more than weekly. This translated into a life expectancy at age 20 of 83 years for frequent attenders and 75 years for infrequent attenders.”
POWER OF PRAYER
It is easy to see the biological effects of faith and service attendance on the immune system, but what about things that are not so easily detected through science, things like praying for others?
There have been studies conducted on the effects of prayer and health. In one study 990 patients were sorted into two categories, one group received intercessory prayer, the other did not. Those that were praying never met the patients but prayed for 28 days for a speedy recovery and no complications. None of the patients knew about the study. The results were reported that those who were prayed for did 11 % better than those who were not prayed for.
Indeed, the emotional benefits of my going to church have been numerous. The support group and family that I have acquired through my attendance has been invaluable to me and to my daughter. Church attendance and involvement have been good for me spiritually, and I continue to go because I love God. It is interesting, for me, to discover that by committing to a spiritual relationship and church attendance, I might just have the added blessing of health.
Bridgette Mongeon is a writer and artist residing in the Heights area and a regular member of St. Alban’s Episcopal