Book Review
Authentic Heaven: The Vernacular Art of Urban Spirituality

How the Other Half WorshipsHow the Other Half Worships, by Camilo Jose Vergara, Rutgers University Press, 286 pages, 2005. ISBN 978-0-8135-3682-8

How The Other Half Worships celebrates one of the great engines of true vernacular expression – religion. The subject is inner-city churches, with an emphasis on the storefront variety.

Camilo Jose Vergara has spent years visiting and photographing urban churches and their people, fascinated by their architecture and decoration, by what people do in them and by what they do for people.

The book is built around his photographs, but it also gives the church folk a direct voice. The generous quotations from pastors and parishioners provide a good flavor for their religious language, although the book cries out for one of those supplemental audio CDs. The sounds of their services are a missing dimension.
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Business Name Saga

This comment from the business name page deserves featuring since it is an instance of the all-important “things” concept.

Tracy Says:

  1. We have “Taste Good” Chinese Restaurant here, and there’s this place that was called “Ying’s” and then he added more and called it “Ying’s Wings”. That wasn’t enough, though, it became “Ying’s Wings and Things”. That was before he built the bar area. The name now? “Ying’s Wings, Things and Bar”.Here’s their website:
    http://www.yingswingsthings.com/

I heart my laptop, for a brief shining moment

Today a marketing research video showed a respondent talking about her laptop. Her affection was so palpable that, as the analysis pointed out, it looked like she was ready to embrace it.

And for good reason. It truly is not just a unit for computing. It’s the place where she keep so much that is important by any fair measure — probably all the pictures of who she loves and where she’s been, all the music she listens to, all the phone numbers she calls. It’s got all the letters she’s written, and most of the answers. It’s where she stores her ideas, if she has any. It projects her movies. It’s got the basic tools she uses for running her life. It’s liable to be full of jokes, things to see and tasks to do.

What’s amazing isn’t that the computer matters to her, it’s that she sees it at all. This is a brief historic moment when the technology is good enough to bring all that stuff together, but new enough that anyone notices. In another few years the laptop — or the device that replaces it — will just be a machine, just so much junk, the way the desktop PC or the Walkman are just things we use, amazing as they were in their time.

The firm that did the research really should preserve the clip for a future museum of technical progress. It’s always striking to see how the things that are utterly normal to us today meant something totally different in another context.

I should admit that I sometimes get a flash of that same feeling about my laptop, as wheezy a solution as it is for holding much of what I treasure. While it still matters, I suppose I should get myself one that I too can treasure, if only for a few moments before it fades into the routines of just so much stuff.