St Margaret’s Church Shop

Near where I lived at the time I wrote this (2002), there's an opportunity shop called St Margaret's Church Shop. Every time I saw the name, bits of dialog like the following started running through my head - in the voices of the Pythons, especially John Cleese. Obviously deeply significant...

Scene: St Margaret's Church Shop. Assistant is behind
counter.

Bell rings. Enter Customer. Looks around nervously.

Assistant Can I help you, sir?
Customer Oh - ah - yes. I'm looking for a church. Are you St Margaret?
Assistant No, sir, I'm her assistant. She has the day off on Thursdays.
What were you looking for exactly?
Customer Well, I don't know. What have you got?
Assistant Is it for yourself, sir, or as a gift?
Customer Oh, for myself.
Assistant Yes, most people wouldn't take one as a gift. Well then, the Anglican here is one of our most popular models. Classic styling - been around a long time. Very flexible, wide range of styles - a wide variety of people like it, and they often find it very comfortable.
Customer Well - it's a little fancier than I -
Assistant Oh, you'd prefer something simpler? How about the Evangelical? Enjoyed wide popularity most of the last century. Very durable, hard-wearing, no-frills kind of church. Were you thinking denominational or non-denominational?
Customer Oh, I don't really mind.
Assistant Well, the Baptist is a popular model. Straight, conservative,
a very respectable brand of church.
Customer Well, perhaps that's a bit too...
Assistant Oh, were you looking for something a little more adventurous?
Customer Well - yes. I mean, not to excess, of course, but...
Assistant I quite understand. More recently they've started making the
Baptist model in Charismatic. Would that interest you at all?
Customer Hmmmm. I have heard that the Charismatic is a little - well -
unstable.
Assistant Yes, I have to admit that they have been known to split
occasionally, but of course our warranty would cover that - and really, they're making them much better these days. Really reduced the number of defects. Oh, except for the ones
with the Toronto Blessing option, of course. I wouldn't say this to everyone, but you clearly like a more conservative church, and the TBs are - well, they just haven't got the design right yet.
Customer Yes, I'd heard that.
Assistant Or there's this new line. Just coming into fashion. The
Post-Evangelical. Not everybody's church, but for those who are starting to find the Charismatic a bit dated - after all, it was originally a 1970s design...
Customer What features does that one have?
Assistant They're still trying out various ones - it hasn't settled
down yet. Liturgy - do you like liturgy?
Customer Weeell...
Assistant They don't all have liturgy. They mostly have the arts,
though.
Customer I can't say I really...
Assistant And then there's spirituality. A sense of exploration and
journeying. Questioning, without necessarily seeking after definite answers. Living life in a permanent state of uncertainty...
Customer I don't think I should like that at all.
Assistant No, no. I daresay you wouldn't. So, where did we get to?
Customer You were showing me the Charismatic.
Assistant Oh, yes, the Charismatic. Really very mainstream now, you
know. Don't be put off by its resemblance to the Pentecostal.
Customer Oh, I know better than that.
Assistant Good. Though the Pentecostal is becoming very mainstream too,
and if you wanted to look at a few I've got some out the back...
Customer No, no, don't bother. I'll take this one.
Assistant Thank you, sir. Cash or charge?
Customer Oh, charge, please.
Assistant There you are, sir. Have a good eternity.
Customer You too.

Exit Customer.

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