A phrase commonly heard these days in the AltRight sphere is “magic dirt.” This term is delightful and succinct, and refers to the mystical ability leftoids, SJWs, Chosen Bankers, and churchified Christians impart to the soil of America. “If a homo sapiens from anywhere in the world comes to America, the instant he/she sets foot on these shores, he/she becomes magically transformed into the moral/spiritual/ethical/philosophical equal of all the individuals who established and built America.”
Back in my Pew Days, a massive winter storm hit our area one Friday evening. By the next evening, it was clear that no vehicle — no matter how many wheels o’ drive it possessed — would be able to make it out of our neighborhood. I called one of the elders and told him that we should probably think about canceling services for the following morning. Well, he wuddn’ havin’ any of that. Fair enough. I told him that this cowboy wouldn’t be making it, and that he would have to line up someone else to talk about “Repentance: The First Word of the Gospel.” This particular elder made the obligatory noises about the importance of “worship” and made the obligatory offers to come and pick us up. I cut him off as politely as I could and told him with gentle firmness (liked that, did you?) that no one could make it into or out of our neighborhood, that Jeeps and Hummers and even tractors were stranded up and down our road, and that we’d talk to him after the weather cleared. The elder was reluctant to agree but finally did.
Next morning, I was roused from a very nice REM pocket by the telephone. Quite right…it was that elder, and he had happy news! He announced that he and another elder were enroute to rescue us from our fortress of solitude, and that we could dine with him and his wife after services before they ferried us back home. I asked him if he remembered our conversation from the previous evening, and he yes-butted me all over the place. When he ran out of steam, I said, “Fine. You want to get stuck in a drift or a ditch, come on. There’s no one here who can pull you out. I tried to warn you, but have it your way.” Deep silence for a few seconds, and then the elder said, “So it’s really bad up your way?” I choked back my f-words and re-re-re-explained everything, and he finally seemed to get it, and he and the other elder did a one-eighty and went back to the church building, where they held a sloppy service for themselves, their wives, and two other people who were stupid enough to get out on the roads.
It was an epiphany for me. This elder (and so many Churchy Christians like him) actually believed that my failure to put my feet on the carpet inside the church building was harmful for my soul, and that if I risked health and blood pressure to somehow make it there, God would look upon me with favor, even as He frowned and growled at those who decided not to pilot their cars across ice and a foot of snow.
The church building was magical to this elder, you see.
Why is that? Can that much-misunderstood verse in Hebrews have that strong a pull?
If you’ve ever been a member of a church, you know the answer.
Funny thing is, he never initiated a conversation about what my family and I might have gotten up to in our home on a day when we were unable to make it to the church building. I suspect he — and so many like him — believed that whatever we’d done, it was illegitimate. Because, you know, no building. No cross. No pulpit.
Worship cannot take place unless it takes place inside a mortgaged 501(c)(3) building, isn’t that right?
And since then, a more important question has arisen: where in the New Testament are we told to gather on Sundays for the purpose of worshiping God?