Thursday, September 15, 2005

Why is the flesh-colored crayon always peach?

My daughter had an appointment today with a developmental pediatrician in Cleveland, specifically at the Children's Hospital for Rehabilitation. She isn't talking, she doesn't eat with utensils or play with other children and our concern was that she could possibly be autistic like her brother. Well, that's the diagnosis we received. She functions at a higher level than her brother but has the characteristics that place her within the autism spectrum. So we have two kids with disabilities now. I love them dearly but man is this hard.

But that wasn't the only thing I got out of the trip. The trip to the hospital ran through several very run-down neighborhoods. Businesses closed and boarded up. Several homeless people. Very large public housing projects. And churches. A lot of churches. Big churches, with names like "Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church" or "Shiloh Fire Baptized Church of God in Christ." Small churches in storefronts or houses.

And the first thought to cross my mind was "wow, there sure are a lot of black churches out here." And for that thought I deserved to be rebuked, because there is no black church. There is no white church. At least there shouldn't be, and in God's eyes there isn't. There are churches with predominantly black congregations, predominately white congregations, Asian, Latino, whatever, but that's because most churches reflect the neighborhood in which they reside.

The second thought to cross my mind was what was missing. There were no Orthodox churches here. No Presbyterian churches. No Lutheran, Methodist or Episcopal churches here (although I did see an African Methodist-Episcopal church, which is a different ball of wax entirely). I saw two Roman Catholic churches. Where were the rest? Where were the Foursquare churches? Assembly of God? The Southern Baptist churches? The Independent Fundamental Baptist variety? Were they just in a part of town that I didn't see? Or have they actively decided to not set up shop next to housing projects?

And why have I never been to one of these churches? I have chronicled my visits to numerous churches in this piece of self-indulgent vanity press I call a blog, and there are others that I haven't talked about. But as I travelled through this neighborhood I felt like I was in a completely different world. I've never been to a Church of God in Christ. I've never been to a church with Mount Zion in the title. I like to think that I know a lot because I've been to a lot of churches and met a lot of people. The fact is, I don't know jack.

Why, when you buy a box of crayons with 64 colors, is the flesh-colored crayon always peach?


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