We’ve spent some time down in Indy this week. One of the hospitals there, Riley Hospital, is really something. The original hospital was built way back when. It’s grown and grown and grown since then, but they’ve never demolished the original. Instead, they’ve just built the new hospital around it, keeping the original in the center surrounded by courtyards, like the Kaaba or something. In the middle of the old hospital was a chapel.
It was a little too Protestant, and vaguely Protestant at that, for my tastes. I’ admired the stained glass but I’ll admit that I never went there to worship, and rarely to reflect. Still, I liked knowing that the center of this big secular enterprise was a well-appointed chapel, and it disappointed me that all the vague Protestants visiting the hospital never visited the chapel.
This week we happened by the chapel and found that it had been converted to a Family Resource Center. It has a library, with popular fiction and non-, lots and lots of internet computers, several different Playstations or Xboxes or whatever they call those things now, and whatever else might divert family members who are tired of comforting their loved ones. The area gets a lot more use now, and is still beautiful in its way, though the stained glass peeking between computers is a little incongruous.
After poking around I found a remnant of the chapel. I walked into a dark little room with a few tiny bunched-up pews and an altar arrangement against the wall. Above it was some backlighted stained glass and a bland quote from a modern Bible. In a rebellious moment I knelt and prayed.
American Christianity has come to this, that only eccentric Mormons worship in its chapels, and then only in elegy. Alas, my country.
We were driving on an Indy freeway a few days later past a big ol’ mall. One of the anchor stores under construction was, I’m not kidding, the New Covenant Christian Center. Faith and food courts, who would have thought it? And the thing was huge. Maybe there’s some breath left in the body of Christianity after all, albeit bad breath.