A great item from The World According to 44 ;-), a blog dedicated to all things St. Joseph's University, Philadelphia, Catholicism and assorted other sentimental miscellany.
The blog's author, the mysterious "44", recently posted an excerpt from Philadelphia native Joe Queenan's new autibiography, "Closing Time," which recounts his life growing up in an East Falls housing project.
I'm not going to repost it here, since you can easily go there and read the whole thing. Go ahead and read it. No, really. I'll wait.
It's a very nice piece of writing by Mr. Queenan, but it also rings incredibly true. The Project has seen firsthand the way that parishes, particularly Roman Catholic ones, integrate themselves into the fabric of their surrounding areas. This endeavor is ostensibly devoted to old architecture. But these churches are not just nice old buildings. They're living history--of a person, of a family, of a neighborhood.
That's something Project readers have really responded to. When I get e-mails from ex-parishioners, it's not simply because they miss the soaring Gothic columns or expansive Romanesque arches or intricate stained glass windows. It's because of what the parish meant to them and their formative years. That's a bond that can never be broken. And that's why we go above and beyond a simple architectural survey. There's far more at stake than bricks and mortar, no matter how nice they are.
The Project tips its hat to you, Mr. Queenan. And nice work, Mr. 44. The Project doesn't approve of your love of St. Joseph's, but we wish you well nonetheless.