Monday, March 8, 2010

In the Church Basement

The long tables.
The white vinyl tablecloths.
The packets of powdered creamer.
The egg-salad sandwiches: triangles.
The urned coffee.
The bustle of Church Ladies.
The appropriate conversations.

The nervous step-grandson, ready to bolt.
The former coke-head.
The dead granddaughter.
The grown children.
The red-head with greasy hair.
The dandruff.
The woman who looks like a man.
The chatty preacher.
The last words, to which I object: Go in Christ.


  1. Gosh, I'm glad I'm not part of this anymore.

  2. willow, me too! It was a funeral, so I did my time, aka, paid my respects.

  3. T. There are so many things I would like to say in response to your posting, but I do try to be diplomatic. However, one thing that always astounds us on this side of 'the pond' is the extent of religious belief in the USA. In Europe it's almost died out! I wonder why this is!

    Bisou, Cro.

  4. I'll take a guess, CM.

    The original white settlers here were on the run from religious persecution by the state. Even though they in turn dished out some of that, we slowly developed a tradition of religious freedom that became formalized in the First Amendment to our Constitution. This allowed all religions here to flourish. Thus, the traditional Catholics and Jews who emigrated here in the 19th C. could do so without fear of persecution, even if they were discriminated against.

    Plus there were three of what are called Great Awakenings between 1730-1900. Boiled down, these established a significant evangelical and fundamentalist tradition. Add the Chinese and Japanese people who came to the West Coast, and you have a pretty diversified religious culture.

    And, the country has never been rent by religious wars or invaders, and we haven't had a war fought on our soil since the Civil War. I would guess that WW2 had a great deal to do with the decline of religion in Europe -- not many people could put their faith in a traditional god who would allow the Holocaust and preside over the deaths of tens of millions of people and the wholesale destruction of one city after another.

    In short, I think that the prosperity of religion in America grows from three forces:

    * the American tradition of religious freedom;

    * our history of religious diversity;

    * peace at home.

    Keep in mind that I am not an expert in the history or sociology of religion and that the complete answer is undoubtedly much more complex. I'll stand by this as a start, though.

  5. I can smell this poem. Did you write it?

    My husband comes from a big family - I know of what you speak. Two or three funerals a year. The urn of coffee, the egg sandwiches, the niece you haven't seen since she was 7 and now you realize she's a lesbian.

  6. Hazel, yes, it's mine, although I wouldn't call it a poem quite yet. More just a list.

  7. A varied list with a surprise at the end.