August 31, 2009

Church Experiment #35: Norwood Wesleyan

Yesterday, I took a walk in the park. Shortly after arriving, I realized I had to use the restroom. Once inside, I noticed most of its walls were made of glass. I feared people outside could see me urinate, but luckily, I’m pretty confident the windows were tinted on the outside.

So, everything was a go. Unfortunately, my shorts got stuck around my hips, and I couldn’t pull them down. I couldn’t hold it any longer, so with very few options left, I started peeing all over myself.

That’s when I looked up and realized the bathroom had transformed into a church. The park ranger (who looked exactly like actor Richard Jenkins) walked in and started preaching. From what I remember, he said some pretty good stuff, but I was the only person in the congregation, so it was hard to focus.

Suddenly, the park ranger’s wife appeared in the room with us and the two took turns preaching. Out of nowhere, his wife turned into a blue, ghostly-looking hologram and said, “God loves you,” in a very strange voice.

Then, Cammie Stinchcomb walked in and took a seat behind me. She didn’t even acknowledge my presence. (Cammie and I went to elementary school together. She was one of the first girls I ever had a crush on.) Frustrated by her snub, I looked at my program and realized there was a second service scheduled at 12:40 PM.

Then, I woke up.

I was immediately reminded of a scene from Waking Life where some dude says, “Did you ever have a job that you hated? Worked really hard at? A long, hard day of work, and finally you get to go home, get in bed, close your eyes, and immediately you wake up and realize the whole day at work had been a dream? It’s bad enough that you sell your waking life for minimum wage, but now they get your dreams for free.”

Fifty-two churches in 52 weeks is plenty. If I start dreaming about church visits, I might snap.

Now, on to my waking experience …

I knew I was in trouble when, an hour into the service, the pastor of Norwood Wesleyan Church (I believe this church has closed since my visit. More on that at the end of this chapter) said, “Most churches would go home right now, but we’re just getting started!” It’s been a while since I visited a church that broke the two-hour mark, but Norwood Wesleyan did just that on Sunday with their 130-minute churchathon.

Norwood Wesleyan hosted a “Round Up” on Sunday, which seemed to be the culmination of a four-day revival. Everyone was encouraged to wear clothing from the Old West (which I did not partake in). Out of the eighty attendees (in a room that sat about two hundred in traditional pews), approximately 20 percent dressed up.

To finish reading about this experience or any of the reflections from my 52 visits, please purchase the full book here.