Monday, November 28, 2005

And You Thought I Couldn't Get Any Dumber!!!

The picture above is of the Most Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Eureka, Missouri (about 30 miles west of downtown St. Louis.) If you look just to the left of the church in the picture, you can get a feel for the view of the Meramec River Valley that it commands from its hilltop location.

Many, many, many years ago, the church was located in the heart of Eureka, which was then a little railroad town located on the old state road between St. Louis and the state capital (Jefferson City) and Springfield MO.

At some point in time (1950's maybe), the parish bought land right next to U.S. 66 and built a new grade school. High on a knoll overlooking the highway, there was not even room for a service road when 66 was up graded to I-44. Like many catholic parishes in the St. Louis area, mass was held in what was supposed to be the school's auditorium until a new church could be built. That took 40 years or so and the church in the picture was just completed a couple years ago.

We are traveling down memory lane just to place in perspective how stupid I am.

The view of the new church that you see is roughly what bursts out at you when you are traveling east on I-44 -- it is a terrific location! I like the new church because it is very tradition -- so many new churches should have neon signs outside that say Redemption-Burgers!!!!! Sacred Heart is actually more attractive from the sides, you see the full the north side with it's stained glass windows from the highway, but I could not find a photograph online. The steeple is a little short for a Catholic Church, and a little too Norman for my tastes, but that's just me being picky.

The land on the opposite side of Route 66/I-44 was always lower, and far from level. There were several businesses there overtime but the access was terrible and none survived.

About a year or so ago, someone started blasting into the rock on the north side of the freeway (Sacred Heart is on the south side). And, I mean they moved major quantities of rock, until they had produced a large level area considerably lower than I-44 (but at the same level at MO 109 that crosses under the Interstate).

Then they started to build, using essentially the same color bricks as the Catholic church on the south side of the highway and the same white limestone trim.

The new building going up on the north side of the road had a large central "naive" -- with a high pitched roof -- and a giant Romanesque window in the front. On either side of the central building there were many attached lower buildings in the same brick and trim that I assumed were for Sunday School, youth groups, administration, and other church-related activities. There were no signs along the freeway, so I just figured that a Protestant Church of some denomination was building a clearly much larger church complex than the nearby Catholic Church -- making up in size for the somewhat inferior geographic position. A little ecclesiastical gamesmanship perhaps, under the noise of the looming Catholic structure across the busy roadway.

Every time I passed the two buildings -- one complete and in use, the other underconstruction -- I replayed in my head the architectural aspects of the religious turmoil of the 15th and 16th centuries (when even suggesting that the sanctuary of a church did not have to be at the east end could get you burned at the stake) -- and of the anti-Catholicism of the early-20th century that caused the removal of the steeples of many historic Catholic churches.

Well, they finally put up a sign! Turns out it was not a new church at all but a new Schnucks grocery store and strip mall! That's right, what I thought was going to be a house of worship turned out to be a house of produce, and canned goods, and two-for-one sales. The photo below is of a similar Schnucks store. Could I be any dumber? Let us pay!




11 comments:

The Phoenix said...

Yes, Jim, I too recall the turmoil in the late 19th century where the local grocers attacked and destroyed many Catholic churches. It was terrible...a dark time in our history.

Looks like history is repeating itself...and I hear nail salons have aligned themselves with the grocers.

stan said...

I understand they've got good deals on wine and unleavened bread.

Jim said...

it does offer some interesting possibilites, I always like when you can do two things at the same time, like eating and driving -- how about sermons instead of Muzak while you shop on Sunday mornings?

stan said...

Found in the weekly coupon ads:

THIS WEEK'S SERMON - "What Would Jesus Eat?"

Jim said...

this is in really, really bad taste, and I apologize to absolutely everyone in advance, but I think we may have found a new use for the lobster tank

stan said...

I love Jesus and I found that quite funny. If we Christians can't learn to laugh at ourselves we will never develop a thick enough skin to function in our world.

Jim said...

it would bring new being to 'test of faith' -- sorry

stan said...

Oh, I was thinking baptismal, but that's good too....

Jim said...

oddly enough, so was I -- it would certainly separate the believers from the nonbelievers

stan said...

I used to say that the way to do that was to hold them under the water until they genuinely repent.

Jim said...

or at least until they sign over their variable-rate annunity :)