Nov 23 2009
The goal: visit 52 places of worship in one year — mainly on Cape Cod and the Islands with digressions to other places if travel and circumstance dictate.
The reason: this is not a spiritual discovery/quest for meaning sort of thing,; but more an exercise to satisfy my curiosity about new religions, the interior architecture of churches seen hundreds of time from the outside, and the subtle differences in denominations, say what differentiates a Methodist from a Presbyterian, a Unitarian from a Catholic. The idea came to me in the parking lot of the Greek church in Centerville during the annual summer Greek Festival. I was chewing on a souvlaki and baklava when it struck me that some pretty cool stuff must happen inside the church on any given Sunday.
Icon by Andrei Rublev
The rules: no Michelin ratings or overly snarky judgments. As a former barkeep, I take seriously the admonition of Uncle Bob at San Francisco’s Balboa Cafe that only an idiot talks politics or religion with a customer and expects a tip to follow. I will attend with the utmost respect as a guest, will not participate in any “altar exercises”, e.g. communion, baptism, circumcision, flagellation, Pebbles of Joy, handling of snakes,
Personal disclosure: confirmed and baptized as an Episcopalian. Do not attend services. Do not take communion. Believe in God, but a more of an Einsteinian/Pynchonian blend of quantum physics and the laws of thermodynamics. Philosophical influences are Wittgenstein, Aristotle, and Kant. Most spirituality is directed at environmental concerns and in that regard would count Thoreau as a big influence. Politics are ambivalently Independent: I voted for George W. Bush in 2000 and Barack Obama in 2008.
I was ordained as a minister in the Universal Life Church in 1982 thanks to a classified ad in the back of Rolling Stone. I also bought from those same classified a stack of adhesive “screw” stickers to affix over the heart on random bumper stickers that said “I (HEART) MY DOG” as well as a NIPCO fake ID.
Personal religious experiences: After three days of no-sleep, somewhere off the coast of North Carolina’s Cape Fear, I saw lines of green CRT-style (Hercules graphics adapter, circa 1984 PC DOS monitor) text rise slowly out of the tops of 20-foot following seas while delivering a decrepit 60-foot plywood catamaran from Falmouth, Mass. to Lake Worth, Florida. The text was not religious, but the experience did make me fervently pray for my life as I was convinced death was imminent.
Spiritual Advisors: I owe a lot to the late Reverend George F. Vought of The Brooks School. He looked the other way on several incriminating occasions and had more joie de vivre and cynicism about “The God Squad” than any man of the cloth I have met since. Paul Noonan of Cotuit is an amazing source of theological knowledge and is the only person who can attempt to explain to me the centuries old battle over the filoque, proof to me that religion is an amazingly potent force for weirdness.
The Churches: I’ll tag all relevant posts “52 Churches” and build a directory of posts here.
- Kick off: St. Barnabas of Falmouth, and …
- United Church of Christ/West Parish Rooster Church
- Unitarian Church of Barnstable
- Quaker Meeting – East Sandwich
- Victory Chapel, Christian Fellowship – Hyannis
- The Presbyterian Church of Cape Cod – West Barnstable
- Grace Cathedral – San Francisco (Xmas eve 2009)
- St. Gregory of Nyssa – San Francisco
- Saints Peter and Paul Church – San Francisco
- Osterville Baptist Church – Osterville
- Hagia Sofia – Istanbul
- Church of St. George – Constantinople
- The Blue Mosque – Istanbul
- Christ the King – Mashpee
- Cape Cod Synagogue – Hyannis
- Jehovah’s Witnesses – Falmouth
- Seventh Day Adventists – Osterville
- First Lutheran – West Barnstable
- Touro Synagogue – Newport, Rhode Island
- Zion Union Church – Hyannis
- St. Peter’s Episcopal – Osterville
- St.Barnabas Episopal – Falmouth
- St. Michael the Archangel – Cotuit
- St. George Greek Orthodox – Centerville
- Cape Sangha, Buddhist – Hyannis
- Duomo, Catholic, Firenze
- Basilica Cattedrale Patriachale di San Marco, Venice
- Cotuit Federated Church, Cotuit