At the middle of everything was an eight-sided, six-story corporate cathedral called the Worship Center, which sat six thousand people.Inside were two huge balconies, a jumbotron, an organ with nearly two hundred stops and more than ten thousand pipes, and a glowing baptismal font.I started to feel twinges of guilt at the end of every church service, when the pastor would call for people to come forward and accept Jesus.
At the middle of everything was an eight-sided, six-story corporate cathedral called the Worship Center, which sat six thousand people.Tags: International Law Dissertation Topics95 Luther Martin Post ThesisFrench Essay On School LifeEssay Map Read Write ThinkClassfication EssayPoetry Analysis Essay QuestionsEnglish Proficiency Essay WritingHuman Resources In Business PlanEssay Questions For HistoryWoman Rights Essay
They had grown up Catholic in the Philippines and, after moving to Toronto, a few years before I was born, had attended a small Baptist church.
When, in 1993, they moved to Houston, an unfamiliar and unfathomably large expanse of highway and prairie, one pastor’s face was everywhere, smiling at commuters from the billboards that studded I-10.
When I was in high school, the church built a fifth floor with a train for children to play in, and a teen-youth-group space called the Hangar, which featured the nose of a plane half crashed through a wall.
My parents hadn’t always been evangelical, nor had they favored this tendency toward excess.
There was a dried-out field with bleachers and, next to it, a sprawling playground; during the school year, the rutting rhythm of football practice bled into the cacophony of recess through a porous border of mossy oaks.
Mall-size parking lots circled the campus; on Sundays, it looked like a car dealership, and during the week it looked like a fortress, surrounded by an asphalt moat.You could spend your whole life inside the Repentagon, starting in nursery school, continuing through twelfth grade, getting married in the chapel, attending adult Bible study every weekend, baptizing your children in the Worship Center, and meeting your fellow-retirees for racquetball and a chicken-salad sandwich, secure in the knowledge that your loved ones would gather in the sanctuary to honor you after your death.The church was founded in 1927, and the school was established two decades later.During the holidays, I acted in the church’s youth musicals; one of them was set at CNN, the “Celestial News Network,” and several of us played reporters covering the birth of Jesus Christ. Back then, believing in God felt mostly unremarkable, occasionally interesting, and every so often like a private thrill. Fathers offered their children up to be sacrificed. The horror-movie progression of the plagues in Exodus riveted me: the blood, the frogs, the boils, the locusts, the darkness.When I was still in elementary school, my family moved farther west, to new suburbs where model homes rose out of bare farmland. I was taught that the violence of Christianity came with great safety: under a pleasing shroud of aesthetic mystery, there were clear prescriptions about who you should be.I would regret this situation when I was in high school at the age of twelve. I pointed my toes in dance class and did all my homework.In daily Bible classes, I made salvation bracelets on tiny leather cords—a black bead for my sin, a red bead for the blood of Jesus, a white bead for purity, a blue bead for baptism, a green bead for spiritual growth, a gold bead for the streets of Heaven that awaited me.I’d been taught that my relationship with God would decay if I wasn’t careful.I wasn’t predestined, I wasn’t chosen: if I wanted God’s forgiveness, I had to work.My mom sometimes worked as a cameraperson for church services, filming every backward dip into the water as though it were a major-league pitch.There was tiered seating for a baby-boomer choir that sang at the nine-thirty service, a performance area for the Gen X house band at eleven, and sky-high stained-glass windows depicting the beginning and end of the world.