Prescription and descriptionSeptember 6, 2006
At the end of the street I live on there’s what has to be the saddest example of a Church this side of a school gym that’s been pressed into service during an emergency sermon. The building is 65 years old, has burned down at least once, and is slowly falling into ruin as piece by piece crumbles & isn’t repaired. The giant neon crucifix that doubled as the tallest bug zapper in West Los Angeles has sat dark since just after I moved here, a couple years back. The letters from the sign have fallen off, and instead of replacing them, the people who run the church have just painted in the shape of the letters, on the wall where they once hung. The wood around the one large stained glass window is termite riddled & rotten, flaking & splintering more every day. But most of all, it’s not the state that the church is in, but rather the use it’s put to. I’ve only ever seen the joint look lively for two types of ceremonies, and neither of them were Sunday sermons.
First off, is the infrequent & sad wedding reception that takes place in the dilapidated main rec room (built off the formal preaching/praying portion of the church, whatever that area is called). For some reason, the only people who get married in our church are Koreans, despite the fact that pretty much zero Koreans live in our neighborhood. It got to the point where I started to wonder if our church was advertising in Korean newspapers & magazines; I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that every single wedding I’ve seen take place there has involved a Korean couple. But all in all, we’re talking about maybe only a handful of weddings in two years.
Far more prevalent (and interesting, for the future of the church) is Saturday torah worship, which has been going on for about a year now, and is more successful at drawing a crowd than anything that’s happened at the church since the last time it burned down. The Jews, of whom there are (unlike the Koreans) several metric tons worth in my neighborhood, are flocking to the “church” every Saturday morning, taking up every parking space on my street, the next street down and the end cap between our streets, not to mention both the front & back parking lots. I’d estimate twice as many Jews come to the church on Saturday as Christians do on Sunday.
Which brings us to the title of this entry; at some point, this church will have to face cold, hard facts. As a guy, you can call yourself straight, but if you’re sleeping with men all the time, you’re gay, regardless of what you call it. You can claim you only drink socially, but if you keep waking up in a pile of your own vomit, you’re probably a drunk, regardless of how you describe yourself. And you can call yourself a church, but if your primary source of income is derived from the mass influx of Jews every Saturday, you might want to consider pulling down the neon cross & hanging a neon Star of David.