All About the Storefront (Part 1)

So, I decided to spend a rainy Tuesday driving around Durham taking pictures of storefront churches in my local area (I will post these pictures later). My wife (a health educator and researcher) went along with me and took notes on the locations (bless her heart).

The reason? Well, I believe that storefront churches are to the kingdom of God what small businesses are to the economy: if you want to see the principles of either system truly at work, then go to the smaller end of the spectrum.

Now, I have done a lot of reading about the perception of the storefront church, and there are appears two “opinions”. Either they are viewed as a guardian of the poor and down-trodden as they offer much needed services to the community. The other opinion is that they are a menace to revitalization of downtown areas (here one:

I personally could care less about whether a town is complaining about a church moving in an abandoned storefront and re-purposing it for God’s work. More than likely there are some developers hoping to cash in cheap property that are ticked off that something other than a check-cashing store, liquor store or pawn shop is operating in the neighborhood.

At the same time, I would love to see these ministries have access to ministry and leadership development services that until now have only been available to larger, established churches. Proper use of these services would, in my opinion, give these churches the support needed to realize their ministerial goals and continue to provide much-needed services to their local neighborhoods.

My plan is to spend the next year studying up-close storefront churches in my local area and offering my assistance to any and all that are looking to honor God’s call and spread His word of salvation to the surrounding community. Pray for me; this should be very interesting.

A quarter of the U.S. population — and 40 percent of the population of New York, where my novel is set — self-identify as Catholic. One of the most striking features of the city is that there are churches everywhere, from one of the world’s largest cathedrals to hundreds of storefront churches. And a bit of investigation will reveal that those churches fill up every Sunday. Not to mention the fact that there are more Jews in New York than in any other city in the world. But for some reason the publishing industry in this city tends to view the introduction of religion into contemporary realist novels as a willful act that must have some strong rhetorical justification. From where I stand, the exclusion of religion is the willful act. Novelists never get asked why they don’t include religion in their books, or why the religion they do include — often just a species of madness — bears so little resemblance to religion as it is practiced by the majority of Americans. If they were asked, I suspect, most of these writers would not have a very good answer. It simply doesn’t occur to them. Whatever one’s beliefs, this seems like a basic failure of verisimilitude. Reality includes religion; realism should, too.
—  Christopher Beha being interviewed by Harpers about his new novel Arts and Entertainments

12 Million Black Voices

Richard Wright

12 Million Black Voices, first published in 1941, combines Wright’s prose with startling photographs selected by Edwin Rosskam from the Security Farm Administration files compiled during the Great Depression. The photographs include works by such giants as Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, and Arthur Rothstein. From crowded, rundown farm shacks to Harlem storefront churches, the photos depict the lives of black people in 1930s America - their misery and weariness under rural poverty, their spiritual strength, and their lives in northern ghettos. Wright’s accompanying text eloquently narrates the story of these 90 pictures and delivers a powerful commentary on the origins and history of black oppression in this country.

Ok, are the deliberately stupid get-along-gang OQ’ers out of the SQ tag yet? Wake me when they are. And does this shit seem FAMILIAR to anybody? Two men are thrown at the leading women on a show about fairytales and the SAME patterned replies/attacks/stupidity happens among random fans of each pairing. And then fans of the original ship, Regina/Emma, are attacked, belittled, blamed for everything under the sun (including, of corse, the sun’s eventual demise in a billion years–also our fault) while a handful of those fans turn around and fawn over whatever is popular in the moment, all while lecturing the rest of us to just enjoy the moving pictures, turn off our brains, smile at the dancing lights. What a SHITTY experiment in social manipulation. But that’s what Once has achieved. 

Chomsky would have a lot to say about the ‘just enjoy the moving pictures’ types. 

Heads out of asses. They’re putting up anti-gay signs on Indiana storefronts. Westboro Church trolls are still online and still picketing the funerals of people who support LGBT rights. LGBT people are still killing themselves and being killed, in horrifying numbers. 

Fuck off with your ‘can’t we all get along’ bullshit until you stand beside me as an ACTUAL ally.