BEST CHURCH FOR THE NON-CHURCHGOING - 2000
House of Mercy
Between the ages of 18 and 35, an interest in actual organized religion (as opposed to "spirituality") is roughly on a par with an affinity for Garfield dolls: It's tolerable, man, but it's not that cool. There are the basic theological questions--how could just one religion be right? What's all this resurrection nonsense?--and the practical quibbles--Why do I have to give them money? Prepare, then, for a mild culture shock when you walk into the Sunday evening (5:30 p.m.) service at House of Mercy, housed in a beautiful old stone church in Lowertown. The proceedings are best described as a cross between a folk-friendly college-town café and a show at the Turf Club: Everyone's drinking coffee. People stand and sit as they please. The focal point is not a cross, but a big incense holder (the "thurible") that looks like a basket suspended from giant chopsticks. The service is decidedly low-key, with music provided by guest artists and the folky, Louvin Brothers-loving house band. No one passes an offering plate, wears robes, or preaches at you (a recent sermon criticized some aspects of Christian thought, contained copious pop-culture references, and posited God as a master of irony and social subversion). And about the time you get around to thinking: "Hey, there are people my own age who actually believe this stuff," the service is quite painlessly over.