Monday, July 4th, 2005 • 3 Comments on Mixed Messages
I have been neglectful of my little blog for the past few days due to circumstances beyond my control. So, as I returned here today, with hours of cookout preparations ahead, I contemplated what I should write about on this gloriously beautiful Independence Day. At least, it appears glorious from my window as I have not ventured forth to test the heat and humidity. I’m quite content to stay in the air conditioned house and admire the glory of the day from within. Until later, of course. A cookout is just that—out.
There is a church near my house that has one of those (tacky) marquee-type signs out front. You know the ones. I’m not quite sure when houses of God decided to join the ranks of old movie theaters and convenience stores, but it happened at some point in the past decade, I believe. I wonder if the power of advertising works as well for religion as it does for 7-11? I’m sure there’s a research paper topic in there somewhere…
I digress. I am not a particularly religious chick and have not seen the inside of a church for quite some time. I am not rabidly anti-religion, I’m simply suspicious of the organized variety. I do, however, love churches. I especially love the old-fashioned, traditional churches. I love stained glasses and brick and tall spires with crosses. It’s silly, I know, but I feel a sense of tranquility in a church like that. A peacefulness that can’t be had in churches circa-1970, with strange stucco walls and odd shaped buildings and nary a cross in sight. I’m sure God frequents the ugly churches as often as the beautiful ones, but I can’t be entirely sure. Should I decide to forsake Sunday mornings in bed for church services, you can bet I’ll be in one of the beautiful churches.
So. The church near my house, as I started to say, is quite charming. It’s not terribly old (which adds points in my book), but it is a nice, traditionally done brick church in a quaint setting that happens to be too close to a busy road. The only thing that ruins the picture is the tacky sign out front advertising God, as if the church itself and the people who attend aren’t enough to get the message across. The messages on the sign change, I think, on a weekly basis. That seems to be the routine. I often wonder if they change the message on Sunday morning before services or if some poor church worker is out there in the middle of the night, popping off letters and replacing them.
A week or so ago, the message read: “You are welcome here.” Those words gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling. Hedonist that I am, I’m welcome there. Nice. I liked it. I hate the advertising, but if you’re going to do it, that’s the message to put out. It’s like a little Hallmark card from God saying “C’mon in.” Of course, I think God neither needs Hallmark nor marquee signs to get his message across, but, as they say, he works in mysterious ways. Maybe God digs the marquee signs.
I drove by the church again a couple of days ago and noticed the message had changed. “You are welcome here” is a timeless classic, but some people like to mess with perfection. I believe someone had the holiday in mind when they put up this week’s message of: “One nation under God.” My warm, fuzzy feelings of the “You are welcome here” message faded away to a strange sense of sadness and unease. I suddenly felt very
at the pretty little church.
“You are welcome here.”
“One nation under God.”
Is it just me, or does the second sentence seem to contradict the first?