No matter how early you go to bed on Sunday night, Monday morning comes too early. The only thing that makes my long, penitential commute survivable is the book that will take me away for an hour or more on the way to the city. At the Port Authority Bus Terminal it’s pretty obvious that people are in no hurry to get to work as they shuffle along at a speed that says, “I’m taking the subway, so why rush?” The subway doesn’t go near where I’m headed and it is a small hike in the concrete forest. Actually, parts of Midtown smell more like a zoo on a Monday morning. I try to get through as quickly as possible. So when I guy steps in front of me I try to dodge around to catch the light across 8th Avenue. He doesn’t move, but hands me a slip of paper and recites, “I believe in Jesus Christ.” First thing on a Monday morning. He got out of bed to tell frustrated commuters his personal credo. I stuff the yellow paper in my pocket and try to avoid kamikaze taxis all the way across town.
I’m always curious about those who brave the crowds of New Babylon with the news that they have the truth. I pull the paper from my pocket. I decided to check out the website on the cheap tract. It seems that the Church of Bible Understanding (it seemed to be all in small caps) has formed a splinter group and is wondering why, despite the grace of God, it isn’t growing like in New Testament times. I did notice that I was visitor 2429, according to their web counter. There seemed to be a lot of complicated history to wade through and this was a Monday morning, after all. The main point seems to be that you don’t need all this churchy stuff, but just belief in Jesus. Over this, it seems, churches split.
I have to wonder about the constantly splintering composition of the Christian tradition. Recent scholarship suggests that there was no unity at the very beginning. According to the Bible even Peter and Paul didn’t always agree. Although there may have been a very roughly unified church under Constantine, the outer-lying reaches started developing ideas that didn’t always sit well with Rome. And this was well before the Reformation. Since Luther’s theses, the number seems to have grown exponentially. Well, maybe not exponentially, but I am concerned for the spiritual well being of my fellow hive animals on this island made of schist. It might be easier, though, if we agreed to disagree. Nobody has the truth that will convince all others. And for evangelization purposes, getting in somebody’s way on a Monday morning may not be the best proselytizing technique.