Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Churches of Bakersfield, CA

I ran out of decent restaurants to explore and food to write about in Bakersfield, CA this summer. What's a blogger to do? I took my camera with me everywhere I went, and decided a photo essay on the churches between the Doubletree Inn and my school site was the perfect antidote.

Being a hedonistic/agnostic/atheistic type of person, I always look at churches and wonder about the spiritual connections people are making within their walls.

Rarely do I ever enter a church myself, save for a brief stint studying anthropology in Davis, when I regularly attended a variety of churches to complete a series of upper division coursework including but not exclusive to a course on cultural linguistics.

When traveling internationally, I have seen many different and awe inspiring churches.

Westminster Abbey in London, of course.

Notre Dame.

I have also visited the Catedral Metropolitana in the center of Mexico City, during a restoration project in the mid-90's.

Obviously, the churches of Bakersfield have nothing on any of these behemoths, in size, architecture and economic funding.

There must be something they all have in common, religion not withstanding.

But drive-bys of these buildings this summer left me unenlightened.

My all time favorite church, like the Catedral Metropolitana, is located in Mexico. On the Baja peninsula at the east end of the infamous Puerto Nuevo village, very close to the ruta libra. Outside the tourist strip of this village, there is abject poverty. There are shanties connected to one another via extra long electrical extension cords, held up by 2x4's and a little luck.

This chapel is tiny, maybe 5 pews on each side. But late one evening just a few nights before Christmas, I felt the spirit in there as much as I ever have anywhere.

I felt no such connection in Bakersfield. Maybe if I had gotten out of my car.

No comments: