|St. Matthew Trinity Lutheran Church, Friday night in Hoboken.|
"Church buildings never pass judgment. They simply remind us of transcendence amid ordinary life."
The quote above is from my reading Friday night at the Mile Square Theatre in Hoboken.
Now that Google is sentient (and litigious), I should be careful with this post. According to a publishing agreement, I can't repost chapters of the new anthology, "New Jersey Fan Club."
But, in response to friends, I can say I greatly enjoyed reading from my photo essay, "Finding Religion in New Jersey." The people with me in the photo below are especially wonderful and talented, especially editor Kerri Sullivan. Not pictured is Hoboken's mayor, Ravi Bhalla, who was especially gracious to us all on Friday:
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Since the theme of my reading involved religion -- or, more accurately, faith -- it was a bit bittersweet to bring up the topic on the evening of the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe vs. Wade. So many friends on social media were expressing heartfelt feelings of disillusionment with institutional religion.
With all this in mind, below is an excerpt from what I read -- about my hobby of taking photos of New Jersey churches. In the anthology, this passage is prefaced with the note that churches have "graveyards," while "cemeteries" are burial sites not on church grounds:
Churches connect us with past generations, and nowhere more so than at a church with an adjoining graveyard.
In New Jersey, the dead outnumber us. Over 96,000 people are buried in Totowa, where I grew up, a borough with a population of only 11,000.
Recently I took Mom to visit Dad's gravestone there. "I'm getting tired, Bob," she said to the ground, not to me, for both our names are the same. "I want to go home."
Everything dies, and our graveyards are haunted with memories.
Meanwhile, their churches testify that there’s more to life than this, and they affirm our innate belief that love lasts forever.
"New Jersey Fan Club" -- which includes contributions from dozens of writers, photographers, poets and artists -- can be purchased online at Rutgers University Press and elsewhere, or in real life at local bookstores across the state.