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Fish or Cut Bait

Give Me That Old Time Religion - Please!
By Bob Ciminel


February 25, 2007
Sunday AM

A couple of weeks ago I attended a christening at a Presbyterian church near downtown Atlanta. From the size of its parking lot, this church had a large congregation. Of course size is relative, and this house of worship was small compared to the Southern Baptist church out where I live. It has a parking lot that would put some shopping malls to shame.

I would say the congregation was young to middle-aged, with a really good mix of ethnicities and nationalities, and that usually means it is a vibrant church with lots of kids. As with size, the term middle-age is also relative. I, for example, am in my early Sixties, but I plan on living until I'm 120 so that makes me middle-aged, right?

They say that first impressions are lasting impressions, so when I walked into the church foyer I was impressed with its modern appearance and the friendliness of the people who greeted us. So far, so good; everything correlated with my expectations for a Presbyterian church in a large metropolitan area. However, things kind of went downhill from there.

When I entered the sanctuary I expected to see the traditional cross hanging over an altar and a seating area for the choir with a pipe organ or piano nearby. That seems to be fairly standard for most Protestant churches, although as an ex-Catholic I prefer an arrangement with the choir and organ in the back of the church. After all, we are supposed to go to church to commune with God, not watch a show.

What I saw was a large stage with three standing microphones at the front, a piano on the left, a bass player behind the piano, a drummer behind a Plexiglas screen, and two guitarists. Every instrument was amplified. Behind the "band" was a huge video screen that took up the whole back wall. And way down in the lower right below the stage was a little table representing the altar and a small pulpit for the minister.

Well, right away I knew what the priorities were, and that was soon confirmed when another guitarist and two female vocalists came up to the microphones and launched into an upbeat hymn that I'd never heard before. The lyrics scrolled across the video screen, so it turned into a regular sing-along. I think they sang another song or two before we got into the service. There was no applause when they finished, but I didn't here an "Amen!" either.

I'm sorry, but if I want to listen to Christian rock music there are several stations in Atlanta that play it. I go to church - when I go - for peace and quiet so that I can reflect on all the things I've done to screw up my life and figure out how not to do them again. I meditate. I think about the things I learned in Catechism class during 12 years of parochial school and why they were mostly wrong. I think about the deceased members of our family, and why some lives were so long and others so short. And, sometimes, I even pray for world peace, although in the same breath I give thanks for our Army, Navy, Marine, and Air Force personnel who are helping achieve that by killing thousands of Islamic fascists. Can I get an Amen?


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Fish or Cut Bait by Bob Ciminel

Bob Ciminel's articles may include satire and parody, and mix fact with fiction.
He assumes informed readers will be able to tell the difference. Bob lives in Roswell, Georgia, and works for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations.  He is also a conductor on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway.
Contact Bob at

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Ketchikan, Alaska