I now have very, very short hair. Despite instructions to the contrary — there was an understandable communication gaffe; plus, I would rather have hair too short than too long — I seem to have a #2 guard cut all over my head, for those out there who knows what that means. Put another way, it is too short to comb. I trimmed my beard twice to keep it in proportion. Also, it literally towel dries.
But I like it. And I like the experience of my neighborhood barbershop. Though all the barbers are black, the clientele is a represenative male mix of blacks, Anglos (mostly gay I’d say) and Latinos. Judging from the photos on the wall, the politics there are classically populist Democratic. This is a great “third place.”
About the time I saw my recruitment-poster ‘do, Stan the barber and I had a little chat about origins. He’s from Newberry, South Carolina. (I used to preach there, and have a friend from there. Katharine, do comment.) He knows where Anderson’s Shoes is, my Hubby’s hometown, and the apocryphal tale of why Pomaria, S.C. is named the way it is. (There was no “po’ Maria.”)
In a few moments, I got more than headtop of fuzz; I was reminded of home, and made a heartwarming connection. The barbershop has been for so many people and places a place of community and solace. Oh, do I have to spell it out. A church should be at least as much to its parish, which is more than its membership. An outward-oriented sense — “us to the unknown people out” — has been too often confused with true evangelism.
So, I don’t begrudge Tom Schade his analysis of churches idolatrous and prophetic, but I don’t get a good sense of how JLA’s church would minister to its members as well as it would minister to the rest of the world. And I think the basic Christian mission today is to reorient the faithful towards the “unrewarded option” of communion with God in Christ and away from meaninglessness. That’s a good place to be, and a good place to act from.
P.s. The irony is that there are two anomy-filled films on the tube right now: Fight Club and The Matrix.