Back in 1966 or so my great grandfather died. He was buried in the Catholic Church in San Antonio in which he had been born, baptized, first communionized, married, and attended for 50 years. All was well.
Three years later, my great grandmother died. The family thought that she would be buried in the same church as her husband.
During those ensuing three years, the Catholic Church had redrawn its dioceses, and it turned out that my great grandmother now lived in a different diocese. Interestingly, the new church for the new diocese had been built right across the street. So even though my great grandmother probably knew that she had been placed in a new diocese, she kept attending the same church she had been going to for 50+ years. All was not well.
I think that’s when I realized that manmade religions really weren’t for me.
Back in 1994 I was working in Detroit and decided one day to walk Grand River Avenue from Washington Boulevard to West Eight Mile Road, which was close to the office. I had been told that it was called Eight Mile Road because it was eight miles from downtown. That was an alternative fact spouted well before alternative facts became popular. On almost every intersection, four corners, were four churches. Usually they were different denominations but occasionally they were the same—two Catholic churches, or two Presbyterian churches. I understood because of what had happened to my great grandmother 25+ years earlier.
While I will always question whether or not an all-powerful, all-knowing god requires these monstrous cathedrals be built to worship him (or her), I do appreciate their architecture. When I was in Pacific Beach a while back looking for the library, I came across two huge churches right next to each other: St. Brigid Parish Catholic Church and Christ Lutheran Church.
St. Brigid Parish Catholic Church
Even though I grew up in the Catholic Church, did the CYO thing, went to Catholic School and Sunday School, I have never heard of St. Brigid. Wikipedia to the rescue!
Saint Brigid of Kildare or Brigid of Ireland (c. 451 – 525) is one of Ireland’s patron saints. Irish hagiography makes her an early Irish Christian nun, abbess, and foundress of several monasteries of nuns, including that of Kildare in Ireland. Her feast day is February 1, which was originally a pagan festival called Imbolc, marking the beginning of spring.
The saint shares her name with an important Celtic goddess, and there are many legends and folk customs associated with her. Some scholars suggest that the saint is merely a Christianization of the goddess. Others suggest that she was a real person who took on the goddess’s attributes. Medieval Art Historian Pamela Berger argues that Christian “monks took the ancient figure of the mother goddess and grafted her name and functions onto her Christian counterpart.” Professor Dáithí Ó hÓgáin and others suggest that the saint had been chief druidess at the temple of the goddess Brigid, and was responsible for converting it into a Christian monastery. After her death, the name and characteristics of the goddess became attached to the saint.
Well, there ya go. Once again I learned absolutely nothing that could make my life better. So let’s move on to Christ Lutheran Church, founded in 1954 as Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church
I’m familiar with Lutherans and Christ but I wondered why Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church seems to have dropped the Evangelical from its name. So I went to Wikipedia again to see just who these Evangelicals are and why they had been banished from their own church.
Evangelicalism, Evangelical Christianity, or Evangelical Protestantism is a worldwide, transdenominational movement within Protestant Christianity which maintains the belief that the essence of the gospel consists of the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ’s atonement. Evangelicals believe in the centrality of the conversion or the “born again” experience in receiving salvation, in the authority of the Bible as God’s revelation to humanity, and in spreading the Christian message.
Its origins are usually traced back to English Methodism, the Moravian Church (in particular theology of its bishop Nicolaus Zinzendorf and his community at Herrnhut), and German Lutheran Pietism. While all these phenomena contributed greatly, John Wesley and other early Methodists were at the root of sparking this new movement during the First Great Awakening. Today, Evangelicals are found across many Protestant branches, as well as in various denominations not subsumed to a specific branch. The movement gained great momentum during the 18th and 19th centuries with the Great Awakenings in the United Kingdom and North America.
The Americas, Africa, and Asia are home to the majority of Evangelicals. United States has the largest concentration of Evangelicals in the world; its community forms a quarter of the population, is politically important and based mostly in the Bible Belt. In the United Kingdom, Evangelicals are mostly represented in the Methodist Church, Baptist communities and among low church Anglicans.
Alas, I’m not having much success on this last Sunday in February for again I have learned absolutely nothing that could make my life better.
My wise old grandmother taught me to add laughter to each day, so I shall end with some laughter. Just north of these two churches was God’s Garage:
Now that’s funny.
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