Church’s Chicken and Other Stuff (part 4)

What do file cabinets, country music, and closing statements have in common? This blog.

As I have blogged through the first result for the search “church” in each of Google’s main categories, I have tried to stick with major themes in each of my posts. As you will see, this is not the case in what you are about to read. I hope you enjoy the conclusion to the Church’s Chicken series with my thoughts on Maps/Places, News, Shopping, and Books.

The Riverside Church (Maps)

My Google search for maps left me a little bit frustrated. With Google’s new system it is almost impossible to avoid getting location based results for Maps. This normally would be helpful when searching “church,” but I wanted the top “Map” search on the entire internet – not just for my location. As far as I know, it can’t be done on a computer. But, on my phone I was able to set my location. I tried “world,” but Google didn’t like that. The best I could get Google to recognize was “United States” (I feel as though Google has let me and you down). The result for my search of “church” was The Riverside Church in New York City. I, needing something to write about and being a curious person, looked around on their website for a while.

Riverside Church

There are a couple of things about the church that I found to be interesting and you might to. First, their building is AWESOME. In the website’s words, it “is modeled after the 13th Century gothic cathedral in Chartres, France.” It is not surprising that they have trained volunteers who give tours after every week after their Sunday service.

A second thing I found interesting was that it appears they have only had seven senior ministers (as they call them) in the 80 years the church has existed with its current name. Given that the average pastor, in our modern context, stays on average three years (so I’ve heard), only having one every 11.428 years is significant. It shows the difference in the way things used to be – their first two senior ministers lead a combined 41 years – and, from my observation, it shows (or leads to) a high level of stability in a church.

A final thing that fascinated me is that their church archives contain information about the church for the last 171 years (100 years before they had their current name). The website says, “The Riverside Archives serves as the depository of Riverside’s rich documentary history, covering over 170 years of minutes and correspondence, membership records, photos, documents of social action, benevolence endeavors, audio tapes, and much more.”

They must have a big file cabinet.

Hopefully they have made a second copy.

Closing Statements (News)

When I started this series on top Google results for “church,” the result was an article about President Obama speaking to a group in the city of Falls Church about mortgage prices and other housing market related topics. Since this blog is about church, I figured that article was not a great topic (Not that this has stopped me in the past). And so, I redid the search at the time of my writing. The result was an article on the closing statements in trial against a Roman Catholic Monsignor claiming he had covered up cases of pedophile priests.

While this specific case was not something I was aware of, the Roman Catholic sex abuse scandal is something that has, for many years, been very public. Laying aside any efforts at profundity, I think it is sad…horribly sad…for many reasons. Oftentimes, when we read about people in the media or see statistics, we dehumanize those involved. This article claims that “Nationwide, more than 10,000 allegations of child sex abuse were brought against priests between 1950 and 2002.” If even in just a quarter of these cases the allegations are true (which I would assume is too low to be true) then 2,500 people have deeply sexually abused by men whom the were taught to trust and respect. God forbid that we marginalize this. It is truly heartbreaking.

Making things worse is that the Roman Catholic sex scandal is sad on other levels. It has created a mistrust of priests, many of whom are godly men that serve God with faithful and pure hearts. It has made the church look bad. In the closing statements of the above-mentioned trial, the Monsignor’s defense attorney said to the jurors, “You have witnessed evil, and you have seen the dark side of the church.” This statement is not true. Sexual abuse is no more a side of church than rape is a part of romantic relationships. Evil men may use one for the other, but the two are not connected. However, the sad fact is, many people will see them as connected because of this scandal. When someone outside of the church reads “church” and “sex abuse” together in enough sentences or paragraphs or articles, they begin to associate the two. I love the church and believe that it is God’s tool for bringing His gifts into the world – gifts of love, grace, and goodness. It saddens me to see it connected with something so evil, so hurtful, and so unloving as sexual abuse.

Eric Church – Carolina (Shopping)

The first result for “Shopping” was Eric Church’s cd Carolina. I know two things about Eric Church: 1) He is a country music artist. 2) He gained fame after I stopped listening to a lot of country music.

Since I like country music I thought I decided to listen to the previews of the songs on the cd (courtesy of Amazon). The songs are much more country like (whatever that means) than many country songs on the radio these days.

I decided not to buy the cd.

And, in the words of Forest Gump, that’s all I have to say about that.

The Church: Sacraments, Worship, Ministry, Mission (Books)

As I have said before, I read avidly on the topic of church. Reviewing books on church is one of the things I plan on doing on this blog as I become more consistent in posting (I’m still committed to having 52 posts by the end of the year). But, since I have not read, The Church: Sacraments, Worship, Ministry, Mission by Donalid Bloesch, writing a book review would be a difficult task (although I did pull this off once in my Masters program). The title and table of contents of this book have peeked my interest. I will add it to my “church book” list and review it on this blog when I have finished. It looks as though it is free to read in its entirety on Google Books. Awesome.

Thanks for reading this four part series. I would love to hear your thoughts; leave a comment below.

Next week I will begin a new series where I hope to present a definition of church that might very well be different than anything you have heard before. You can get a sneak peak at what those posts will be about by listening to my sermon from last Sunday.

What do you think?