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The old church

In a dream, I was walking through Seattle's Central District, the mostly-minority neighborhood where you'll find the mostly-white church my family attended all the years I was growing up.

My mom still goes there, and so do my buddies Bruno and Leon and Stu. Attendance has been dwindling for years, though, as the old folks die off, and the young folks move away. The sanctuary seats about 600, and another couple of hundred could squeeze into the balcony, but there's only a few dozen people most Sundays.

The church has been at that corner since the late 1800s, when the neighborhood was of quite a different hue, but the church remains white. Black people do attend now and again, for a few weeks or months. The congregation isn't particularly racist — and hands are shaken and I think they're sincerely welcoming — but like a lot of old white people, the church's elders are uncomfortable around the 'coloreds', and I imagine the blacks folks can sense it, so they drift away.

It's a wonderful old building, though, full of cavernous, rarely-used rooms, enormous exedrae, musty memories, and forgotten back hallways where months might go by with nobody walking. When I was a kid, sometimes I climbed into a hidden loft above the sanctuary, where I could make unseen faces at the preacher and nobody's see me.

In my dream, the now-adult me decided to explore those neglected parts of the building, but the layout kept changing. There was a new, twisting passageway in the back of the sanctuary, where the nursery used to be, and I sorta got lost back there.

A staircase leads down to the kitchen, and I thought I'd go downstairs and raid the fridge, but instead of a kitchen I walked into a belly dance class, taught by Mrs Amos. She was a particularly fuddy-duddy seventy-something spinster who thought pre-marital kissing was a sin, and who, in the real world, died twenty years ago.

Suddenly a bell rang, like the bell between classes at school, and people came pouring into the hallways — people I remembered from eighteen years of going to church there. These were people I haven't seen or even thought about in years — an old friend of my father's, an ex-pastor's cute daughter, and a grumpy old cuss who'd always hollered at me for running in the foyer, even when I wasn't running. And a hundred others, and oh Christ, there's my mother!

I knew she'd nag at me for not calling, so I quickly ducked into the belly dancing room, hoping she hadn't seen me, and though the church blueprints would prove it's impossible, the door behind the belly dancers opened directly onto the raised stage in the sanctuary. 

The pastor came over and took me by the hand, led me to the pulpit, and introduced me as the guest speaker. Every pew was filled (which at this church, happens only at Easter and Christmas), and I was supposed to preach a sermon, but had nothing prepared.

But unlike the typical dream, there was no stage fright. Hell, no. This was an opportunity that could only come in a dream — to speak the truth in a place where the truth can never be spoken.

I leaned into the microphone, coughed for clarity, and said, "There is no God and it's all bullshit!" 

My voice echoed back to me, as the congregation sat open-mouthed and shocked, so I continued: "Jesus, your Lord and Savior? He died 2,000 years ago! Give it a few days of mourning and get on with your lives, because he's dead and he's not coming back!"

The multitudes rose as one to smite me, so I quickly exited stage left, down a hallway to a back door that opened on the parking lot, and the 7-Eleven behind the church, because I desperately needed a Big Gulp.

But again, the architecture was all wrong. Instead of the parking lot, the hallway led only to more hallways, and with every turn I was more and more lost in a building that seemed much larger and more confusing than the church I grew up in.

And then things got crazier and more confused, and I think I got shot in the face by the church's gun- and Bible-toting security guard, who after shooting me said he'd pray for me.

Sorry I can't remember much about how the dream ended, but that's the nature of dreams. When I woke up I touched my face, happy to find it was still there and unshot, unbloodied.

Still wanted a Big Gulp, but they cost money so I settled for a tall glass of vaguely rusted tap water, as I typed up everything I could remember from the dream.

And now I'm sitting here, thinking about that old church and the people who went there. I'm not a believer any more if I ever was, but it was a decent church, full of decent people. It was never one of those Republican hellholes of hate.

And what a great building, too. If I had a million bucks or whatever, it's been an occasional daydream to buy that old castle of Christ, hold a big clearance sale on crosses and hymnals, turn the Sunday School rooms into a homeless shelter, give the giant kitchen and dining room to Food Not Bombs, and maybe turn the sanctuary and balcony into an old-style movie palace. Our first booking would be The Last Temptation of Christ, since it angered the pastor so.

And also, sign me up for those belly dance classes in the basement.

From Pathetic Life #20
Thursday, January 18, 1996

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

51 comments:

  1. Doug, some time ago you asked me to name my favorite Leonard Cohen songs. And to name the longest Leonard Cohen song. I can't find that question in the proceedings, so I'll answer it here. What the hell, listening to Leonard is a little like going to church.

    Favorite songs:
    Suzanne, The Stranger Song, Sisters of Mercy, So Long Marianne, Hey That’s No Way to Say Goodbye, Bird on the Wire, Story of Isaac, The Partisan, Seems So Long Ago Nancy, Famous Blue Raincoat, Joan of Arc, Chelsea Hotel #2, Who By Fire, Dance Me to the End of Love, Hallelujah, If it be Your Will, First We Take Manhattan, Ain’t No Cure For Love, Everybody Knows, I’m Your Man, Tower of Song, The Future, Anthem, Democracy, and In My Secret Life, not necessarily in that order.

    Leonard’s longest song depends on the night and the audience. Other than that, I don’t care.

    I'm not prompt, but I try to be complete. Usually I fail, but I love each of those songs.

    John

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    Replies
    1. Mine's probably The Future, or Everybody Knows... Anthem, if I'm in that mood.

      The man wrote good lyrics. That's what gets me, maybe more than the singing.

      Delete
    2. All good choices. Hard to go wrong with Leonard. I'd add The Smokey Life from Recent Songs to the list.

      Chelsea Hotel #2 ranks as my favorite song of all-time. I related so hard to the second verse. "I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel/ you were famous, your heart was a legend/told me again you preferred handsome men/ but for me you would make an exception/and clenching your fists for the ones like us who are oppressed by the figures of beauty/you fixed yourself, you said never mind/we are ugly but we have the music." -- Arden

      Delete
    3. I was generally disappointed in New Skin for the Old Ceremony after the first three killer albums, but "Who By Fire" and especially "Chelsea Hotel #2" knocked me out.

      Then Leonard started hanging around with Phil Spector, which I think he later admitted was a mistake. It took him a while to find his voice again.

      John

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    4. Phil Spector? Yikes, was Ike Turner unavailable?

      While we're all talking about how great Cohen was, and he was, I'll confess that I've sometimes giggled at how *bad* a few of his songs are. The Day They Wounded New York, Jazz Police...

      Everybody has a bad day now and then.

      Delete
    5. He was willing to look silly trying to tell the truth -- he was willing to take risks with his heart. A few singers are also artists, and Leonard was one. That put him in a position to ask Phil Spector to produce one of his albums and David Crosby to produce another. He left Crosby after one song, but stayed with Phil through an entire album, partly because Phil pulled a gun and pointed it at Leonard's heart. Leonard didn't carry.

      John

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    6. And I'd rather talk about Leonard, but sometime we should talk about Ike Turner and Rocket 88.

      jtb

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    7. Impossible to pick a favorite Cohen song, especially considering the lyrical brilliance. And despite his monotonous voice the musical bedding is surprisingly varied.

      My favorites:

      Avalanche
      everything on The Future
      everything on Ten New Songs (especially A Thousand Kisses Deep)
      If I had to pick a single song, it might be Nightingale from Dear Heather. The lyrics destroy me.

      He's so much better than Dylan, et al it's not even a discussion worth having, though I've had it many times with friends.

      Delete
    8. No argument from me. Dylan's better than most, but has a frickin' library of songs gone wrong. Cohen has a drawer of them, perhaps.

      Delete
    9. I'll just slip this little historical comment in here. Dylan and Leonard were friends and admired each other's work. Because of their travel schedules they only got together every two or three years, but they stayed in touch pretty much until the end. Leonard was always grateful to Dylan for making Hallelujah part of his live act. Dylan sang that song for ten years before anybody else bothered to record it, and nearly twenty years before it exploded. Leonard was always the poor Canadian cousin, Un Canadien errant, but Dylan never treated him that way. In many ways, Leonard was the guy Dylan pretended to be.

      John

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    10. Mr Dillon's done a lot of pretending. Some great songs, some good songs, and whole lot that are neither. Cohen has a much better batting average, and more RBIs too.

      Delete
  2. Fuck it, let's just post random lyrics, Doug'll love that

    I built my house beside the wood
    So I could hear you singing
    And it was sweet and it was good
    And love was all beginning

    Fare thee well my nightingale
    It was long ago I found you
    Now all your songs of beauty fail
    The forest closes 'round you

    The sun goes down behind a veil
    It's now that you would call me
    So rest in peace my nightingale
    Beneath your branch of holly

    Fare thee well my nightingale
    It was long ago I found you
    Now all your songs of beauty fail
    The forest closes 'round you

    Fare thee well my nightingale
    I lived but to be near you
    Tho' you are singing somewhere still
    I can no longer hear you

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Doug *does* love the lyrics festival. Many of these songs are new to me, and for me the lyrics matter almost or as much or more than the tune or instruments. Seeing the lyrics tells me 60% of whether I'll like the song.

      I'll be pouring through all of these, and be surprised if some don't get added to my perpetual playlist, so THANKS ALL.

      Delete
  3. Nonsense prevails, modesty fails
    Grace and virtue turn into stupidity
    While the calendar fades almost all barricades to a pale compromise
    And our leaders have feasts on the backsides of beasts
    They still think they're the gods of antiquity
    If something you missed didn't even exist
    It was just an ideal, is it such a surprise?

    What shall we do, what shall we do with all this useless beauty?
    All this useless beauty

    Elvis Costello

    ReplyDelete
  4. Last night I dreamed that I was a child
    Out where the pines grow wild and tall
    I was trying to make it home through the forest
    Before the darkness falls

    I heard the wind rustling through the trees
    And ghostly voices rose from the fields
    I ran with my heart pounding down that broken path
    With the devil snapping at my heels

    I broke through the trees and there in the night
    My father's house stood shining hard and bright
    The branches and brambles tore my clothes and scratched my arms
    But I ran 'til I fell shaking in his arms

    I awoke and I imagined, the hard things that pulled us apart
    Will never again, sir, tear us from each other's hearts
    I got dressed and to that house, I did ride
    From out on the road I could see its windows shining in light

    I walked up the steps and stood on the porch
    A woman I didn't recognize came and spoke to me through a chained door
    I told her my story and who I'd come for
    She said "I'm sorry son but no one by that name lives here anymore"

    My father's house shines hard and bright
    It stands like a beacon calling me in the night
    Calling and calling, so cold and alone
    Shining 'cross this dark highway where our sins lie unatoned

    Springsteen

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  5. You're the last person I will love
    You're the last face I will recall
    And best of all
    I'm not gonna miss you
    Not gonna miss you

    I'm never gonna hold you like I did
    Or say, "I love you" to the kids
    You're never gonna see it in my eyes
    It's not gonna hurt me when you cry

    I'm never gonna know what you go through
    All the things I say or do
    All the hurt and all the pain
    One thing selfishly remains

    I'm not gonna miss you
    I'm not gonna miss you

    Glen Campbell

    The context - his awareness of his own Alzheimer's - is what makes this one amazing

    ReplyDelete
  6. And I wasn't born o! A welldigger
    And I wasn't born o! A fleshy thing
    And I wasn't born a thing to be scorned
    A thing to be ignored

    And I will align myself with nothing
    And I will enjoin my heart with no-one's
    Cause I was untried
    When I was applied the light of birth

    Will Oldham

    ReplyDelete
  7. Gun to my head (probably pointed by Phil Spector): Bird on the Wire, Tower of Song. and Hey That's No Way to Say Goodbye. Hard to beat the jew's harp. And I'd throw in Suzanne at no additional charge.

    John

    ReplyDelete
  8. Claude I'll Stop Now ReignsJanuary 20, 2023 at 7:32 PM

    I'd like to say
    A few words
    In defense of our country
    Whose people aren't bad
    Nor are they mean
    Now, the leaders we have
    While they're the worst that we've had
    Are hardly the worst
    This poor world has seen

    Let's turn history's pages, shall we?

    Take the Caesars, for example
    Why, with the first few of them
    They were sleeping with their sister, stashing little boys in swimming pools, and burning down the city
    And one of 'em, one of 'em appointed his own horse to be Counsel of the Empire
    That's like vice president or something
    That's not a very good example right now, is it?
    But here's one:
    Spanish Inquisition
    That's a good one
    Put people in a terrible position
    I don't even like to think about it
    Well, sometimes I like to think about it

    Just a few words
    In defense of our country
    Whose time at the top
    Could be coming to an end
    Now, we don't want their love
    And respect at this point's pretty much out of the question
    But in times like these
    We sure could use a friend

    Hitler
    Stalin
    Men who need no introduction

    King Leopold of Belgium, that's right
    Everyone thinks he's so great
    Well, he owned the Congo
    He tore it up too
    Took the diamonds
    Took the silver
    Took the gold
    You know what he left 'em with?

    Malaria

    You know, a president once said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself"
    Now it seems like we're supposed to be afraid
    It's patriotic, in fact
    Color-coded
    What we supposed to be afraid of?
    Why, of being afraid
    That's what terror means, doesn't it?
    That's what it used to mean

    You know, it pisses me off a little that this Supreme Court's gonna outlive me
    Couple young Italian fellas and a brother on the Court now too
    But I defy you, anywhere in the world, to find me two Italians as tight ass as the two Italians we got
    And as for the brother
    Well, Pluto's not a planet anymore either

    The end of an empire
    Is messy at best
    And this empire's ending
    Like all the rest
    Like the Spanish Armada
    Adrift on the sea
    We're adrift in the land of the brave
    And the home of the free

    Goodbye
    Goodbye
    Goodbye

    Goodbye

    The great Randy Newman

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. His phrasing and emphasis in this performance are fucking hilarious:

      https://youtu.be/E0EAwSpTcM4

      His delivery of "Well, sometimes I like to think about it" cracks me up. He's a genius, even if he comes from a generations-spanning family of the rich and privileged.

      Delete
    2. "And as for the brother
      Well, Pluto's not a planet anymore either"

      Motherfucking vicious and right on and funny as fuck. Newman may be a rich kid but he's got balls the size of the sun.

      Delete
    3. How have I never heard this until this morning?

      If you have more, please don't stop the lyrics!

      Delete
    4. There are lots of fabulous things I'd do if I had money, but it's more my tiny balls that hold me back.

      Delete
    5. Well I'm upper-upper class high society
      God's gift to ballroom notoriety
      And I always fill my ballroom
      The event is never small
      The social pages say I've got
      The biggest balls of all

      I've got big balls
      I've got big balls
      They're such big balls
      And they're dirty big balls
      And he's got big balls
      And she's got big balls
      (But we've got the biggest balls of them all)

      And my balls are always bouncing
      My ballroom always full
      And everybody comes and comes again
      If your name is on the guest list
      No one can take you higher
      Everybody says I've got
      Great balls of fire

      I've got big balls
      Oh, I've got big balls
      And they're such big balls
      Dirty big balls
      And he's got big balls
      And she's got big balls
      (But we've got the biggest balls of them all)

      Some balls are held for charity
      And some for fancy dress
      But when they're held for pleasure
      They're the balls that I like best
      My balls are always bouncing
      To the left and to the right
      It's my belief that my big balls
      Should be held every night (oh)

      We've got big balls
      We've got big balls
      We've got big balls
      Dirty big balls
      He's got big balls
      She's got big balls
      (But we've got the biggest balls of them all)

      And I'm just itching to tell you about them (we've got big balls)
      (We've got big balls) Oh, we had such wonderful fun (we've got big balls)
      Seafood cocktail, crabs (we've got big balls)
      Crayfish (but we've got the biggest balls of them all)

      Irving Berlin

      (just kidding, it's AC/DC)

      Delete
    6. You can't go wrong with Randy Newman as far as I'm concerned. He may be my favorite lyricist. Very challenging because more often than not he assumes a character for the song's POV, and more often than not it's an unpleasant character. In today's "climate" especially that sort of thing is frowned upon (if it's even understood) when everyone is supposed to wear their political stripes like an unambiguous athletic uniform. He's the rare satirist whose humor is not not just genuinely subversive but also terribly sad.

      Songs like Sail Away (once you realize what it's about), Rednecks, God's Song, Shame, Political Science, It's Money That Matters, My Life Is Good, I Want You to Hurt Like I Do, I Want Everyone to Like Me, scores of others, all really complex and disturbing and funny.

      And the he does more or less straight love songs, as mournful and melancholy as Cohen, like Every Time it Rains, I Think It's Going To Rain Today, etc.

      https://www.youtube.com/@randynewman

      Delete
    7. I loved "I Love L.A." despite hating L.A., so I guess I love Newman. Just haven't given him much thought or eartime in the past 30 years, which I'll now attempt to rectify.

      Delete
    8. Haven't even played the song yet, but I just Googled the lyrics to "Sail Away" and holy shit.

      Delete
    9. Randy Newman arrived on the scene at the beginning of the singer/songwriter era, the same time Leonard Cohen made his American appearance. Newman tiptoed in with "I Think It's Going to Rain Today" in 1968. A lovely song in just about every way. Two years later he popped up again with "Mama Told Me Not to Come", a singer/songwriter rocker, and two years after that he broke down the door with "Sail Away". I, along with just about everybody I knew bought that album, and Randy Newman became a presence.

      Doug, you surely know his family from all those movies. Randy carved his own path, and remained a hell of a songwriter. I think my favorite is "Louisiana 1927" off his fourth album, Good Old Boys, which I think is considered his breakthrough album because it sold well. As far as I was concerned, he'd already broken through.

      jtb

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    10. Part 2. Newman released his fifth album with The Eagles as his backup band. It's nice to have connections. I don't know why he thought he could get away with "Short People". A country that elected Richard Nixon as President twice would comprehend neither an attack on stereotypes nor the use of irony. So he took some shit and kept writing. Still is all these years later.

      No reason to compare him with Cohen. Leonard was never as hip or as rich as Randy, and Randy will never be as romantic or as cosmic as Leonard. But Randy is a professional songwriter who didn't burn out and never really went out of fashion, partly because he was one of the creators of fashion.

      John

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    11. Listening to Sail Away now, I think I've heard it once or twice before, but barely. I remember Short People, of course, but never heard I Think It's Going to Rain Today until today, and it's raining. Also didn't know he'd written Mama Told Me Not to Come, and I don't know anything about Randy Newman's family.

      Delete
    12. You have one of his uncles on your play list today.

      jtb

      Delete
    13. Don't sleep on Randy's 1999 album Bad Love, which has some terrific songs on it. "The World Isn't Fair" is brilliant in so many ways. "I'm Dead (But I Don't Know It)" is spot-on for most performers. "Big Hat, No Cattle" could be the George Santos theme song if he could ever deserve anything as meaningful as music in his life. "My Country" expresses Randy and everyone's love for TV. As he wrote in his press kit for the album (which really should have come with the album for everyone) and in interviews, that when his kids come over he's always glad to see them, but also thinking he wouldn't mind going back to watch Matlock now. "I Want You to Hurt Like I Do" could be the Repugnant Party's National Anthem if they had any self-awareness. "Shame" is every rich man with a young girl. Just brilliant stuff. -- Arden

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    14. He's related to Alfred?

      Delete
    15. I've been spinning the album (digitally) for an hour, and yeah, good stuff. I am especially impressed with "The World Isn't Fair," which kinda matches my perspective even though I'd never thought it through.

      Delete
    16. Yes, Alfred is his uncle. Most of the family is in the scoring business, which probably sounds like more fun than it is.

      John

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    17. Uncle Alfred and Uncle Lionel probably gave little Randy a flute and a head start. Nepotism is a grand advantage in the arts.

      Pretty sure that's not the same Alfred who belched "It's a Gas," though.

      Delete
  9. This is the comment stream following a Pathetic Life post although it has ranged widely. The photo of your church reminded me just a little of my church. Mine was a Methodist Church before the merger, so not a United Methodist Church until I was on the way out. And judging from the architecture, mine was a little older: When I read Umberto's The Name of the Rose, I was reminded of the old church, with its meandering hallways and catacomb-like secret locked rooms. They tore down the old church in the 70s, ten years after they built the expensive, new modernistic church and ten years before the congregation left to join the megachurches in the suburbs. Now they can't afford to heat the sanctuary, or so I'm told. My parents were married in that old church in 1939, and I attended Sunday School there throughout the 50s and 60s. As I've noted, I got a little taste of Almond Roca in the condemned but comfortable balcony of the old sanctuary and wandered the dusty, forgotten halls of the building like one of the Hardy Boys. My mother won the Tacoma city badminton championship in the church gym in the 30s, and I pretended to play basketball there as a tyke in the 60s. Wonderful architecture. A firetrap, but wonderful architecture.

    John

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    Replies
    1. The church gym? Jeez, I have never known a church that had a gym. I'm guessing yours was much bigger than ours. Ours had a basketball hoop in the parking lot.

      The picture isn't the actual church, just an approximation. I hardly ever have photos of anything real.

      Loved all the old hallways rarely trod through and old classrooms simply never used. Tearing 'em down seems almost as sad as ripping down old movie palaces, though of course the movie palace memories are much warmer and more sincere.

      Took a trip to Victoria BC once with the family, and we churched in some ENORMOUS downtown church that made ours seem tiny. Man, I wanted to go exploring in that church, but Mom & Dad held my hand and wouldn't allow it.

      Delete
    2. Yeah, a full wood-floor basketball court, net mountings for badminton, lots of equipment and balls, and a balcony for 50 or 60 observers. We had volunteer coaches from the University of Puget Sound (a Methodist University) in several sports.

      The building also had separate Sunday School rooms for every age level up to 12 and Junior High and High School activity groups. The sanctuary must have held 700-800 people including the balconies, and they packed 'em in in the 50s and well into the 60s. By 1980, the building was torn down in favor of a modern (or post-modern) edifice and attendance was under 100. The neighborhood had changed and most of the members had moved to the suburbs and joined megachurches. I was gone too.

      John

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    3. Sounds about the same size as our church, with about the same number of classrooms and meeting rooms, but we never had a gym or anything like it. We had a church basketball team, but they practices and played at the local junior high.

      Churches do seem to dwindle. Almost like they're not really powered by God, but by people who get distracted by life and wander away.

      Had a lovely chat today about a church in my old denomination — not the one I attended, but the next closest one — where attendance dwindled so small that they finally closed the place. Nothing warms my soul more than a shuttered church.

      Delete
    4. My parents came of age during the great depression. The church my mom attended served the entire community. There was no religious test for those who came to recreate themselves in the gym. Most of them, like Mom, had tennis shoes stuffed with newspaper to cushion the holes. Churches sometimes serve community needs with or without God. I left when it was time to go, but I am proud of the legacy of the place the church held in the part of Tacoma I still call home. Today the church has a lesbian minister and a gay youth leader. I only know this because of their web site, but it sounds like they're still doing good work with or without heavenly guidance.

      I'm not preaching -- just sharing.

      John

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    5. Sounds like one of those pinko radical churches that remembers things Jesus said.

      Best I can say for the church I grew up in is, they weren't openly evil or hostile to people who were different. But "serve community needs with or without God"? I'm having a hard time remembering when the church I attended did anything like that.

      They operated a day care beginning in the 1980s, and some of the non-churchy neighbors used it and no doubt appreciated it. They had to pay, though, and the kids had to sit through Bible lessons and kiddie hymns so I don't think it counts as any kind of good deed.

      Delete
    6. I want to be clear that I'm not saying that the church as my mother experienced it was still opening its facilities to all comers when I was there. But the thirties were a dark time, and members felt a call to reach out to their community, much of which was half starving. Today they do run a food bank that gives what they have to whoever walks in the door, and we were certainly taught to help not just the poor in spirit, but also the poor in wallet. I'm also saying that there are good and bad aspects to local churches and I've seen both. We all went out and trick or treated for UNICEF without announcing we were Methodists or even Christians, which I never was, even if I knew the first couple of verses of Holy, Holy, Holy. I'm reluctant to admit I still do, but my song is much more likely to rise to Leonard Cohen.

      John

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    7. It's getting late. I do believe it's time for bed. I look forward to conversing with you whenever tomorrow morning is.

      jtb

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    8. Much as I disbelieve, I still respect Christians who seem somewhat Christ-adjacent. That was my impression of the church I grew up in, and yours sounds similar. Opening the gym for everyone — that seems Christian in the Christian sense of the word.

      I wonder, though, what wen through the elders' minds when they decided the Depression was over, so they should cancel the open gym time, and reserve it for churchers only.

      Still, to my knowledge, what your church did was better than anything my church ever did.

      Delete
    9. Brief naps are allowed.

      Delete
    10. Hey, John — Rolling around on the bus yesterday, we went past a big Salvation Army church that had one entry marked 'chapel' and the other was marked 'gym'. The gym looked bigger than the chapel.

      I hate the Salvation Army for other reasons, but that's kinda cool and I'd never seen a church gym before.

      Delete
    11. It's probably useful to remember that there weren't always fancy gyms that charge by the month on every corner, nor basketball hoops in every park.

      It wasn't an easy thing to find a place to recreate yourself.
      That's how the YMCA invented basketball and built workout facilities in hundreds of cities across the country.

      In the early 20th century, a few churches in many cities built exercise facilities to attract parishioners. When my Mom was growing up, that was literally the only place she could afford to work out. She learned badminton there and got really good at it. I never really asked her, but I don't think she bought a bit of the religions dogma. When my sis and I stopped attending church, Mom dropped it like a hot potato. Girls just wanna have fun.

      John

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    12. It's just good marketing.

      I'm not a gym guy, but for a while my wife and I had a membership. And I am also not a Jesus guy, but if a church had given us free gym access, and the sermons on Sunday weren't *too* awful and onerous, maybe we would've gone.

      We *did* go to church a few times, just for the hell of it.

      Delete
    13. Dougles, the difference between writers and very good writers is the last line of your comment. Thanks.

      jtb

      Delete

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