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What's Missing

By Carl S ~

My wife attends a nearby church. It's adequate in size for fifty or so people. But that isn't how the system works, apparently. No, they're building a new one; a larger one, naturally. Maybe there's a "goldfish bowl" thinking behind this, as if making a larger environment will increase the size of the congregation. Whatever.

The construction has been proceeding for three years now, involving donated lumber saw-milled from local forests, money donated by church members and others, and volunteers. Members of this particular sect travel the country in their RVs, and since they're retired, contribute their labor building the structure. They occasionally contribute money, too.

Someday this church will be finally finished, and dedicated, as were those cathedrals, monastic basilicas and multitudinous country churches of tradition around the world, whose spires still stand above the villages like so many swords piercing the sky; signposts such as any skyscraper or fast-food arch.

One day, this church, too, will be filled with songs of praise, shouts perhaps, and elation from the small congregation in a new, freshly, pleasantly painted atmosphere. There will be amplification, through an expensive new speaker system, of voices, keyboard, guitar and drums. Stained glass windows will connect it to tradition, as well. Filled with songs of hope and praise and traditional verses and sermons, all will be well with their world, all explained, in a camaraderie of comfort.

There will be only one thing missing. Their God.

There will be neither appearance, nor voice, nor odor, nor touch. No confirmation of its reality at all; not one way to coax this god into this church, its empty shell. This is an astounding absence, considering the material and emotional commitment involved, even to the cost of millions of lives in the past. Still, there is no appearance, a no-show. This church and all others are just as vacant of gods as the pagan temples, and the ongoing praise and worship are just as pointless. There are just people and buildings, and nothing more, as always.

Yet, they go on building new churches.

It is my fervent wish that someday this church will become a sanctuary for the homeless, or for abused women and their children, and that they will fill it with laughter. Until then, I recommend that all “houses of worship” be listed in the "Entertainment" section of the newspaper, with theaters, rock concert venues, sports arenas and such.