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
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 -
|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?
|Assistant||They don't all have liturgy. They mostly have the arts,
|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.|