Going Around in Circles, Redux


Church 1. Denomination: Lutheran. Service time: 10:00 AM. Chance of walking in the door: 10%.

9:50. Ten minutes before the service starts. I park my car up the hill from the church on the corner. Two elderly, well-dressed women are walking in the general direction of the church. I think about the fact that I am wearing jeans. I walk down the hill, turn right, walk a block, turn around, come back.

The church was Celebrating Pluralism Sunday. Today they were holding a joint service with a progressive Episcopalian church located just a couple of blocks away. I don't know if I can handle Lutheranism or not. I'm not sure what I think of that whole "justification by faith" thing, and besides, unlike Luther, I like the Epistle of James. After doubling back, I pass the church again, this time hearing organ music from the inside and seeing two young girls playing in front of the entrance. I walk back to my car and drive away.

Church 2. Denomination: Presbyterian. Service time: 10:30. Chance of walking in the door: 40%. Chance of walking in the door if I hadn't needed to pee: 75%.

10:24. I nearly have an accident as a woman pulling out of a driveway doesn't see me as I pass. I honk long and hard and she brakes, just missing me. I discovered a side street near the church with a plethora of parking. I walk past the church, which calls itself "progressive", almost convincing myself to go in. Problem was, the first thing I'd have to ask someone once I was handed a program was, "Where's your restroom?" Too embarrassing. I walk past the entrance and continue down the hill. I pass a woman in colorful stretch pants and sweater, walking in the other direction. Was she going to the church? I walked a little further and turned around. Might as well head to my car. I see that the woman I had passed did, indeed, go into the church. I look in a window as I pass and see her speaking to another woman, possibly a greeter.

Church 3. Denomination: UCC. Service time: 11:00. Chance of walking in the door: 40%.

10:45. I park a block away. It's a gritty neighborhood, with its share of liquor stores and homeless denizens. From my parked car I see a woman, possibly schizophrenic, taking swings at an imaginary companion as she approaches the door to a residential hotel. The congregation meets in a storefront while their new church is being built across the street. I think about going to a nearby coffee shop to order a drink just so I could use their restroom. No, that's crazy. I walk pass the storefront entrance to the church. The door is closed and it is an overcast day; I can't see inside. I keep walking, and head back to my car.

Restaurant. Chance of eating brunch: 100%.

11:10. I find nearby parking. The woman who co-owns the restaurant recognizes me and says "Hello". I order my usual brunch, from a waitress I haven't seen before. I head to the restroom after placing my order. I read the Sunday New York Times with my meal.

Convenience Store. Chance of buying ice cream for desert: 100%.

Time: unknown. Some idiot straddles the adjacent parking space as he parks his car right in front of me in the small lot. The space next to his, the only one left, is thus barely large enough to accommodate my car. I manage to fit the car in somehow and buy some ice cream. Chocolate chip cookie dough. Comfort food for one who is too skittish to walk inside a new church. When I get home, I open the pint container, and after about 10 bites, still can't find a single chunk of cookie dough. Very, very strange.


JP Manzi said...

I love when you share these adventures with us. Thanks.

John Shuck said...

That is just too funny! Every minister should know how terrifying it is to visit a church for the first time.

John Shuck said...

Oh, another thing. I, too, like the Epistle of James. James echoes a great deal of material with "Q" suggesting that James (who could have been the brother of Jesus) carried on the tradition closest to the ministry of Jesus compared to the rest of the NT.

My hunch is that not all Lutherans follow Luther any more than all Presbyterians follow Calvin or all Anglicans follow Henry VIII!

Mystical Seeker said...

John, you raise an interesting point. I know little about Lutheran churches, and I didn't consider the point that denominational or congregational loyalty is sometimes based on all sorts of factors and isn't as nice and tidy as one might suspect.

Eileen said...

Mmmm...chocolate chip cookie dough.

Boo and hiss at not finding it in the icecream though.

And John does make a great point.