Growing up in Detroit, I was surrounded by Coney Islands. Athens Coney Island. Leo’s Coney Island. Kerbie’s Coney Island. Coney Islands were everywhere. And, if you’re outside of Detroit, you probably have no idea what I mean by any of this...
Coney Islands are a series of different restaurant chains. Each has, as you might expect, their own take on a “Coney Island” which is a type of chili-dog.
But what Coney Islands are known for are their highly generic menus. You know what you are going to get when it comes to eating out at a Coney Island reataraunt. And it likely isn’t all that adventurous.
Christianity in an organized sense, also known as “church,” often seems very Coney Island esque to me. For all the denominational variety (there are over 30,000 congregations now...) the presentation and feel is really quite similar.
If you were to ask someone who is highly tied to the reality of church if all churches are similar, they’d surely say no. A Catholic service and Baptist service to them are polar opposites.
In the same sense, if you ask a loyal patron of Leo’s Coney Island if it’s the same as Athens, they’d scoff and explain how they’re not even close. When really, whether church or Coney Island, it can all tend to be the same
You need to experience something different than the Coney Island in order to realize how similar all the Coney Islands are. Just like you need to experience something different in order to notice how similar all churches can be.
Theres a restaraunt in Chicago called Alinea. They have made desserts that you breathe in, food that’s cooking on the plate in front of you but you don’t know it because it’s hiding under other food, and numerous other creative cuisine. They’ve reinvented what it means to eat at a restaurant.
Alinea is no Coney Island.
What would Alinea look like in church form? I’m excited to find out.