The busy architect picked up his ringing phone, ““Yes Father?” he asked, “What can I do for you?”
“I am in a fix,” said the worried voice of the priest.
“Why? Has your church collapsed? Is the roof leaking? Are the walls crumbling?”
“No, no, no,” said the priest, “the church building you designed is in excellent shape.”
“Then, what is the matter? Are people unhappy with the design?”
“That,” sighed the priest, “seems to be the problem. They are too happy with the design. Too happy indeed!”
“What do you mean, “said the architect, a trace of irritation creeping into his voice. “You should be happy your congregation is happy! Has the attendance increased?”
“Very much,” said the unhappy priest.
“I don’t understand,” said the architect, “you seem to have everything going for you and yet you seem to be complaining.”
“Could you come by the church today?” asked the priest.
“Okay,” said the architect, “I do not take that route normally, but I will today.”
The architect drove down to the church that evening. He had never seen the church after designing it and had to look around a bit, “I am sure I designed a steeple for it,” he muttered to himself, and then saw the crowd. They were all over the road, dressed in the skimpiest of outfits and all going in the same direction. “Where’s everybody going?” he enquired of a passerby.
“To church,” replied the young man.
The architect parked his car, pushed his way through the crowd and entered the church. The stained-glass windows were beautiful. The beams and pillars he’d designed were elegantly sculptured. He then looked towards the altar and was aghast to see hundreds of people standing there in their bathing costumes.
“Why did you build a swimming pool at the altar?” shouted the architect at the worried priest.
“We followed your design,” said the priest, determined not to be cowed down.
“Show me the design,” shouted the architect and watched the priest show the blue print to him.
“Father!” shouted the architect with a roar, “You are holding the steeple blue print upside down. That was a beautiful steeple I designed but your contractor has excavated into the ground, instead of going into the sky and has dug a swimming pool instead of building a steeple!”
It was a thoughtful architect who sat for dinner with his wife that night, “You know husband, what the priest did accidentally, is what many religious and political leaders are doing!” said his wife, “They have started holding their religious texts topsy-turvy, making their teachings attractive for their followers!”
“Promising prosperity instead of contentment!”
“Inciting violence not preaching peace!”
"Bringing in polarization instead of unity!"
“A political tool not Godly worship!”
“And like the swimming pool,” sighed the architect, “people enjoy splashing around, instead of directing their worship, following a pointed steeple, to the One above..!”
Robert Clements is a newspaper columnist and author. He blogs at www.bobsbanter.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org