“Ignorance of the law is no excuse.” I couldn’t believe that the woman at the police station actually used that phrase on me. The only time I’d ever heard it uttered before was on Gilligan’s Island. After all, we were talking about a parking ticket. I’d arrived in Boston, after driving through four states, with a massive headache. I was moving into an apartment in Winthrop, and all the cars along the street were lined up with their left tires along the curb. I simply did what everyone else had done and went to bed to sleep off my debilitating pain. In the morning I had a ticket under my windshield wiper. I explained that I’d just moved to town from another state, I was a student, and that all the other cars were parked the same way. Then she said it.
Ignorance, it seems to me, is the only response in the face of laws far more complicated than they need to be. I always thought, for example, that it was against the law for churches to meet in public schools. I’m no lawyer and what with voucher programs and other legislation that has been approved by the Reagan-Bush empire, I’m just not sure any more. So when I drove past the local middle school I was surprised to see banners all over the place proclaiming Liquid Church was meeting there. Liquid Church? They have a slick website (advertised on the banners) and they had guys directing traffic in the local school lot, which was frighteningly full. When had this happened? When had the school which had refused to allow a robotics league, approved the meeting of an evangelical church in the building? I can’t guess about the legality.
One of New Jersey’s fastest growing churches, according to its website, Liquid Church is flashy and trendy. This is God for the twenty-teens. Like businesses these days, it has “core values” as well as beliefs. Those values? Grace wins. Truth is relevant. Church is fun. The beliefs are pretty basic evangelical standards. But what is it doing in my local school? Having attended churches where anything fun smacked of Satan, perhaps I’m just a little bit jealous. Maybe as a guy who tries always to obey the rules, who doesn’t speed, and who actually follows traffic conventions in parking lots, I’m just a little confused. I thought there used to be a wall here. Now there seems to be nothing but rules anyone is free to concoct. I miss Gilligan’s Island.