The Common Good

True Believer

Source: On Earth
Date: October 26, 2012
Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe insists that her faith in data doesn’t conflict with her faith in God -- and she’s not just preaching to the choir.
As you drive along Broadway in downtown Lubbock -- away from the derelict avenue named for Buddy Holly, this West Texas city’s most famous son, and toward the campus of Texas Tech University, its most famous institution -- you begin to realize, after only a few blocks, that you’re on Church Row. There they are, all lined up: the Baptists, the Methodists, the Catholics, the Church of Christ, the Christian Scientists, the Disciples of Christ, and several others. The street offers an ecumenical smorgasbord for the spiritually hungry, with a menu heavy on the mainline Protestantism that shaped so much of American religious and civic life from the nation’s inception until the end of the last century.
Keep driving in a southwesterly direction and eventually you’ll hit Lubbock’s exurban border. Here, in those last acres before the city quite suddenly stops at the edge of the newest housing developments, the density of churches is no less staggering than it is downtown -- although there’s one key difference. Many if not most of these houses of worship have shed their denominational designations, just as they’ve shed the architectural trappings that have historically identified the church building as the grandest, most important structure in any community. Gone are the pointed arches, Gothic spires, and stained-glass windows of a fixture like Broadway’s First United Methodist. These churches have been erected hastily; some are little more than warehouses made out of metal siding, resting on cinder-block foundations; others have been improvisationally crafted by retrofitting bingo parlors or roller rinks. In place of denominational markers, their names (Turning Point, Experience Life) proudly advertise their status outside the doctrinal confines of mainline Protestantism and denote an idiomatic, and even rebellious, approach to the saving of souls.