What a week. I am finally back at work and I feel the need to unload some short items from the past week on the road. So -- warning -- here come some short, punchy (I hope) posts while I try to dig out my desk and travel bag. Prepare to scan and click. Looking back, it's hard to believe that I seriously considered not posting an update on my original "Mansions on a Hill" post. The follow-up post -- a sort of "Would Tony Campolo own a McMansion?" debate -- is still drawing a few new comments. Thus, it is with fear and trembling that I post the following link to a Wall Street Journal feature by Troy McMullen that, in effect, suggests more McProtestant people are building McPrayer Closets in their McMansions.
Actually, that isn't really fair. There isn't much evidence that this prayer-closet phenomenon has a class angle.
As religious themes grow more important in American culture -- in an April Gallup poll of 1,003 adults over 18 years old, 42 percent of respondents described themselves as evangelical Christians -- a handful of interior designers have begun to market themselves as experts in merging home decor with religion. Their influences run the spectrum: subtle touches, such as using colors taken from a client's favorite Bible passages, and more overt ones, like the installation of altars and large cast iron crosses in some homes. ...
These designers say they're simply filling a niche -- helping Christians and others guided by religion who want to tap into their faith without turning their homes into chapels. Still, there's another reason interior decorators are striving to set themselves apart: The field has never been more crowded. The American Society of Interior Designers, a trade group, says its membership hit a record high of 35,000 this year.
Perhaps the story behind this story is that evangelicals are beginning to feel the need to do something that the ancient churches have done for centuries and centuries -- urging members to bring sacramental objects into their homes. In my Eastern Orthodox neck of the church woods, we call these blessed zones "icon corners." I have heard that Roman Catholics do this from time to time, as well.
Meanwhile, try to find a photograph online of a Protestant "prayer closet." Let me know what you find. OK?