Thursday, May 7, 2009

Going to Church

Sunday, September 7th

Mom insisted that we go to church this morning. She said it was a good way to meet some decent neighbors. She emphasized the word decent and glared at Dad as she said it. Not that Mom is religious. When we lived inside the safety net, we only went to church for Christmas, Easter, weddings, and funerals, and even then Dad complained. He said church wasn't the same since they standardized the Bible. He still has his old family Bible and he says if he wants religion on any particular day, that's the Bible he'll read, at least until the government takes it from him.

Mom says she doubts there's any danger of that. Dad disagrees. He says that requiring the standardized Bible in public services is just the first step. Mom says the standardized Bible is the same, but simplified so that people can understand it better. They have the same argument every time we go to church, including this morning.

The church was new and small. A stained glass window in the shape of a cross was positioned behind the podium so that the light shone through it and cast little colors of light around the preacher. A small angel looked out from smaller stained glass windows along the sides. Instead of hard pews like they had in the city, we sat on padded folding chairs. People were friendly and walked up to us, introducing themselves and shaking our hands. I'll never remember any of the names, but that's alright. I did see a couple of kids I knew from school. The ones who recognized me glanced over and smiled.

A group of five did the singing. I didn't know the songs, but they projected the words on a screen. A few people around mouthed the words, a couple tapped their feet. Most just stood and stared. After the songs, the preacher stood up and read from the standardized blue Bible. A tiny flag adorned its thin outer edge. Dad muttered that a Bible has no business being so thin and blue. His family bible is thick and bound in black leather. Its gold-edged pages are filled with tiny print. A couple people nodded as he read. Most stared up at him with no expression. After he finished reading, the singers sang again and a collection plate was passed. I noticed that almost everyone put something in the plate, even the kids. I had nothing to add, but I did see Mom and Dad both add a bill to the pile. When the songs were over, someone gave a prayer and it was over. In the lobby, Mom stood around and talked to people. Dad went outside to have a smoke and I followed him.

"None of your friends here?" he asked.

"I know a couple of the kids, but not very well."

Dad looked around and noticed we were alone. "I covered for you yesterday with your mother, but I'm curious. Where did you find that bullet?"

I leaned close and whispered, "It was in a skull near that house I told you about."

Dad's eyes got wide. "Like the person had been shot?"

I nodded.

"There you two are," Mom's voice called out from across the parking lot, startling us both. "The Jacksons want us to join them for lunch at The Grill on the Hill. I told them we'd be happy to."

Dad smiled and called back. "Sounds wonderful, honey. That way we don't need to cook." He took my arm and said softly. "Just go along with it, Mandy girl. Your mother will be much happier if she has people to talk to." We walked over to join Mom and her new friends.

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