Thursday, March 06, 2008

Hallowed Halls And Stained-Glass Windows

Monday evening I spoke to the High Point First Presbyterian Church. This time, to both the women and the men. Loving, warm, these folks opened their arms to me a year ago when they asked me to lead their women's retreat. This year they blessed me again with their enthusiasm as they sat on the edge of their seats while I presented Coming Out of the Dark and into the Life of a Writer. Their standing ovation at the end moved me to tears.

And just as I suspected, they wanted to know when Televenge was going to be available. One woman even begged my husband for a copy of the manuscript. Told him she'd pay him for a copy. Of course, we can't do that. But I sure wish agents and editors could see what I see each time I get up to speak. It might be a done deal by now.

So ... we wait. Patiently. Still. It'll happen.

America is made up of churches, just like this one. Have you ever counted how many churches sit in your immediate neighborhood? Someone once told me there were four Baptist churches on corners across from each other down the street from where she lived. On Sunday mornings, do you wonder who attends these little hometown churches? Ever count the number of cars in the parking lot?

Recently, I heard that organized religion is on the down swing. That the youth are drawn to the more charismatic megachurches. This concerns me. Not that I'm a huge fan of organized religion, but I can tell you the honest hearts who sit in the pews of the steepled churches across this country are the fiber that holds the country, and many of its families, together. In my humble opinion. Now you don't have to attend church to be a good person. If you know me, you know I believe that wholeheartedly. But the folks who attend church regularly, many of them have belonged to that specific church all their lives. Or to that denomination. They've raised their children inside those hallowed halls. It's their belief system. It's their social club. It's their support group, and for many, it's their family.

Megachurches offer big thrills. And sure, there are wonderful people who attend these mega places of worship. But megachurches also need mega bucks to operate. And they prey upon your mega heart to give. And give some more. Most of them are televised. And that's a blog for a different day.

My heart is in the little sanctuary, tucked inside small-town America. There are great stories within those ornate doors and stained-glass windows. This fall, I shall reveal a few in Southern Fried Faith. In the meantime, I will continue to speak to the churches I love and their flocks who sit in the pews. Thank you, HP Presbyterian Church. Y'all touched my heart.

I'm no preacher. God knows that and laughs each time I say it, I'm sure. I love to speak to all types of organizations, clubs, and civic groups. But it's when I stand in front of a congregation, I'm thrown back to my roots, and I let loose. I don't have to worry about offending somebody with "religious connotations." I can be who I truly am. Somebody who cut their baby teeth on the back of a church pew.

Blessings to you and yours.

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