A few years ago I was at a vestry meeting at church. A woman no one recognized came wandering down the hall. I went out to see if she needed help.
“I’m looking for the AA meeting.”
“Oh, it’s in another building.”
I showed her where to go.
“They told me it was in the church,” she said. “But there’s a church on every corner in this town.”
When I went back to the vestry we (perhaps unfairly) surmised that she was from California.
A couple of weeks ago I was showing some cousins from Michigan around Franklin. One is a chaplain at a college and the other is a minister. We stopped to see the sanctuary at my church. The building is old and the sanctuary only holds about 200. (Fewer in the winter when people are wearing coats and sweaters.)
“So do you have a full-time priest?” one cousin asked.
“Ha, we have three,” I replied. “And four services every Sunday.”
He was a little surprised that this small church supported so many priests and said something to the effect that we “know how to do church” in the south.
In my travels, especially in England, I’ve been to many tiny ancient churches. The kind of places that contain more history than the whole of the U.S. Places where, as the Celts would say, the air is thin because of all the prayers that have gone up from that place.
But these churches are empty most Sunday mornings because they share a priest with the rest of the parish.
In these parts, religion is a going concern. Most people I know are church-goers, albeit to the traditional Protestant faiths–Presbyterian, Methodist and Episcopalian.
What we also have around here are a few megachurches. Places that would’ve been called Baptist 20 years ago, but how have distinctively nondenominational names. They definitely lean to the conservative side, and, from what I’ve been told, walk a thin line when it comes to supporting political candidates and maintaining their nonprofit status.
I don’t read any really “religious” blogs. I do, however, read the blogs of some religious people. But by and large the blogs I read are by people who profess no religion at all and they live all around the world.
So that’s why I’m wondering…is it Southern thing?