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First Bank of Christ

2003-02-01 - 11:34 a.m.



Picture this.

You�re driving down your street, on the way to Taco Bell, when you notice a sign for a new bank up ahead. You wonder how it�s possible that you didn�t notice a new bank being built since you take the same street to work every day.

It�s a typical bank sign.

You know the kind.

A flashing marquis atop a gray column of shiny steel. Sometimes there�s a fancy clock. The messages, with their all-caps text, are visually imposing like weather warnings on the TV screen, �TAKE SHELTER IMMEDIATELY,� but their content is far more passive: �ICECAPADES TICKETS, DISNEY ON ICE.�

As you approach, you wonder if a bank is the kind of business that necessitates the existence of a flashy marquis.

In a bank you have withdrawn money, deposited money, and been looked down upon by women wearing these, but you have not seen strippers, off-Broadway shows, or Alice Cooper concerts there.

You like to think you can choose where you bank without a bunch of screaming capital letters trying to decide for you. You like to think your bank won�t look down on you if you decide to bank elsewhere, or if you decide not to bank at all and keep your money in a shoebox under the bed instead.

You soon realize this sign is different from the rest, though. It doesn�t say anything about low interest rates or home equity loans. Instead it says: "THE BIBLE IS G0D�S HOLY WORD. What are YOU reading?!?!?"

And then you realize there is no new bank.

There is, instead, the same sprawling, flat-roofed, dry-walled church that�s been there as long as you�ve lived here. The one you entered in April when it opened itself as a voting precinct, where the �Choose Life� posters in the doctor�s-office-like hallway did not influence your voting choices in a last-minute salvation. The church simply has a new marketing strategy.

It makes you hope that if you should ever feel the need to evangelize about a holy word, you�ll do it in a format that doesn�t reduce it to the same empty statements as �FREE CHECKING, COLLEGE STUDENTS.�

At the exact moment you pass by, as you think about the shiny gold of collection plates, you hear a new Macy Gray song on the radio. You turn it up to hear her froggy voice, but the song is only five seconds long: �If I had money, I�ll tell you what I�d do/ I�d go downtown, buy me a Mercury or two/ crazy �bout a Mercury.�

And you wonder if Macy Gray goes to church.

that was then - this is now

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