ChurchGrowthReviews

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DanielMacKay writes:

One of my loooong term projects is to help popularize / promote / demystify religion in general, in a response to what I see as decimation of interest and participation in, organized religion. The change in attitudes has gone so far that I see in a substantial number of people what I call "church-phobia" -- that is, a hatred and fear of organized religion based on a tiny sliver of knowledge and a large amount of third-hand information.

We can save my analysis of the reasons for that, for another time. I'll give you a sneak preview of the project. When I started, and then backburnered, the project many years ago, I called it the Church Growth Project.

What I'd like to do, is a series (it could easily take a couple years) of reviews of church services.

You know, the Coast, for instance, and every other media, publishes reviews of pizza and yarn shops and realtors and stageplays and rock bands and chinese delivery and used car salesmen. Well attending, or participating in, organized religion is as much an aesthetic event as any of those. As with any kind of review, the aspects of a church experience range from the purely technical (for instance, St Matthews has *terrible* traffic noise at any time of the day or evening) to the purely subjective (e.g the required hugging at the end of the Al-Anon meeting felt insincere.)

So my series - on radio or print probably - would be my impressions of a different organized religion experience each week, from Anglican High Mass at the University of Kings College, to a Wiccan Rit in the middle of the Commons at midnight, to a few of the thousand different ways that the Shambhalans meditate, to how bitchy the unanswered remarks were at the Quaker Meeting, to the freshness of the challah at the seder. Not the coffee though - the coffee at after-church luncheons is universally loathesome.

I'm in a good position to do this - as a kid, my Mom shopped me around to different churches, and I came to see them as... well, a sort of supermarket, where you got a variety of "products" in different quantities and qualities. Just as with Celtic music at downtown bars, different people *want* different things so it is seriously not a matter of better and worse.

Off the top of my head - this deserves much more analysis and better writing - but ferinstance:

There are probably another ten dimensions to an interaction with a church that could be evaluated on technical or aesthetic scales; of course, like not reviewing the wine menu at a donair shop, not all would be appropriate for every one.

To do it at all, I'd need some available time, first, to spend with a friend who could teach me enough comparative religion to have a vocabulary, and then learn a little church architecture, then to actually attend the services. It would be a lot of fun to do with someone else.

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