My church…standing in the light.

Praying or preying? Only the mantis knows. (Photo by James Holland)

Today’s gospel at church was the parable about the pharisee and the tax collector.

The pharisee goes to the temple and brags to God about what a great job he’s doing and how holy he is.

The tax collector goes in, falls prostrate, and begs for mercy for his sinfulness.

The parable ends with this salvo:For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.

Then I came home and saw that Maggie Doyne (see post on 8/5) was on the cover of the New York Times magazine in an article on D.I.Y. Foreign Aid by Nicholas Kristof. How thrilling is that??!

I love helping to bring DIY philanthropists to light. It’s humbling work, and totally exalting.


Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, Atlanta

So, I’m Catholic. A practicing Catholic. And I am therefore supposed to (required to) go to church every Sunday.

I am also (super old school here) supposed to tithe, i.e. give 10% of my income to the church. However, since I have a very modest (okay, pathetic) income and basically live off my husband, I’m just going to pretend, for the purposes of giving myself one day a week off from this blog, that I’m making a reasonable income and go from there. So every Sunday – all year long –I’m going to be giving $100 to Our Lady of Lourdes, my amazing, adorable church in the heart of the Martin Luther King Jr. Landmark district in Atlanta.

Our Lady of Lourdes was founded in 1912 as an African-American Catholic community, financed by Mother Katharine Drexel – a rich Main Line, Philadelphia heiress who founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and donated her fortune to serve Native American and Black people. From the steps of OLOL (no relation to LOL, kids) you can see Ebenezer Baptist Church (where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., his father, grandfather, and brother all preached); and the neighborhood infuses the church’s soul.

I love OLOL so much, it’s ridiculous. It’s small, it’s mighty, it has awesome music (thanks to our Minister of Music and chair of Spelman College’s Department of Music, Dr. Kevin Johnson), and it’s got our brand-new pastor: Father Jeffery Ott, a Dominican friar from New Orleans, and our new Assistant Pastor Father Bruce Schultz … not to mention our affable, groovy deacon, Chester Griffin (whose beautiful wife Janis also leads the choir), a liturgical dance company called Amazing Grace, and some highly gifted & competitive sports teams (of which I’m not a member).

I’m not sure if you know many Catholics, but I can tell you for sure, we’re not the monolithic, homogenized, “jump to the Pope’s every proclamation” pack of lemmings that you may think. I, for one, believe that the church’s stance on birth control is socially irresponsible, morally insupportable, and just plain nuts.  But I also think the church’s position on poverty, social responsibility, gun control, the death penalty, immigration, health care, equality, civil rights, justice, peace, and charity is truly inspired.

For these reasons – and for the reasons I’ll add every Sunday that I go to church and am freshly inspired (or spiritually challenged), I’m making this my weekly tithe. And if you can find a church you love even half as much as I love Lourdes, you’ll feel blessed to support it, too. I promise.

4 thoughts on “My church…standing in the light.

  1. I agree with bronxboy that you have a wonderful gift with words Betty. And we your readers who are on this year long trip with you, are growing richer for it.

    I also love your photos. Today’s picture of the praying mantis is outstanding 🙂

    • Dear Rosie — Oops! I forgot to give credit! The spectacular photo on Sunday was taken by James Holland, the Altamaha Riverkeeper I wrote about on September 6. He’s such a gifted photographer!!

  2. You have a wonderful gift for writing about your own life in ways that are both entertaining and enlightening. What is unique, I think, is that you are equally adept at stepping aside and pointing the way to others who are doing special things with their lives. I feel humbled both by you and by the subjects of your posts.

    • Oh, honey — I love the spotlight! I’m sincerely hoping that I don’t jump in there and try to take center stage too much because the people I’m writing about are honestly SO inspiring and quite often, stunningly selfish — but thanks so much for your sweet comment!

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