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Ramadan

A few months ago I found a new day job where I’m doing administrative work (such as doing Google searches on various topics, sending emails to various people, and filing). The person I’m doing work for has a lot on his plate. He’s the executor of his late aunt’s estate which he’s trying to wind it down. He’s also doing other things which I’m not going to elaborate on right now. I mentioned a few months ago that I wasn’t going to write anything about this day job unless I do something that is extraordinary visual and creative.

Well I did just that as part of my job last month. His late aunt owned some property in the Washington, DC area that she rented to tenants. My boss decided to put one of the houses up for sale. This house is located in McLean, Virginia and the tenants had recently moved out. I was sent to the property to take photos in preparation for selling it.

The house is located on top of a hill so I couldn’t walk too far back on the front lawn because I wanted to avoid rolling down the hill. The house is long in length and it has a brick façade. It looks big but, compared to the other houses I drove past on the way to this house, it’s relatively modest. (I drove past several large mansions in the same neighborhood that definitely dwarfs this house.)

The well-manicured lawn had plenty of azalea bushes that were in full bloom when I was there.

The property has a swimming pool but it was covered when I was there.

I was instructed to shoot as much as possible. I shot close to 200 photos of the place. I’m only posting a fraction of the photos I shot in this blog because the vast majority of photos were of empty rooms just like the next two photos.

The rooms had a fresh coat of white paint and it clearly has hardwood floors. But many of the photos I took of those rooms were so similar that even I had a hard time keeping straight as to whether I had already photographed a certain room or not. I just didn’t want to bore you with an excess of photos of bare rooms with no furniture or anything else. The bare rooms currently have a few nice touches, such as these fancy brass air vent covers.

The living room (or what I think is the living room) has a nice looking fireplace.

The kitchen has this lush wood paneling that looks like mahogany. Even the refrigerator (located on the far left in the photo below) has wood paneling on its two front doors.

The kitchen countertops are made of granite.

One of the rooms that faces the backyard swimming pool has a brick wall and floor with this old-fashioned iron stove that looks vintage, retro, and cool.

This house has three full bathrooms and three half-bathrooms. (Or I think I counted that many bathrooms.) One full bathroom is all white with fancy white moulding around the mirror and gold fixtures.

The other full bathroom has a sink with this nice looking blue tile on the top.

My favorite full bathroom is the one that has this colorful mosaic covering the sink.

The front windows on the upper levels provide spectacular views of the neighborhood. I shot this photo on the second floor, which overlooks this large mansion that’s across the street and the abundant trees. It’s obvious that this area was once rural. I did not see a single Metrobus stop anywhere in this neighborhood and the nearest Metrorail station is several miles away. The roads leading to this home are winding and very twisty and curvy at times. I don’t know if it was always a wealthy area or if it was one of those rural areas that was once full of family farms but now caters to people with deep pockets.

Soon after my visit I uploaded nearly all of my photos to a Dropbox account with one exception. I took a selfie while I was standing in front of one of the large bathroom mirrors holding my Canon PowerShot camera. I didn’t include my selfie with the rest of the real estate photos because it doesn’t really fit in with the others (which are supposed to show off the house and grounds to potential buyers). So I’m going to post it in this blog instead.

With this post I can at least prove to others that I am capable of doing real estate photography. I’ve previously done similar job-related photography a few years ago when, as part of a previous job, I photographed the Dayspring Retreat Center and compost facilities in Howard County, the City of College Park, and the University of Maryland at College Park.

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Passover

The day after St. Patrick’s Day I helped a friend of mine with his booth at the annual Maker Faire NoVa that was held at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. I had attended previous STEM Maker events in Greenbelt, Silver Spring, and Washington, DC but it’s the first time I ever checked the Northern Virginia one. I have to admit that this event was the largest event of its kind that I had ever attended. To give you an idea as to how big it was, here’s a video I shot of this event.

And now it’s time for the still photos. I knew I had come to the right place when I saw this statue of George Mason (whom the university is named after) all dressed up for the occasion.

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These signs were further giveaways that I was at the right place.

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The reason why I was there was that I was helping a friend of mine with his table. His name is Phil Shapiro and he frequently hangs out on YouTube and Twitter. He wanted to demonstrate Inkscape, which is the free open source alternative to Adobe Illustrator. He brought a couple of Linux laptops that he made available for people to use. At the last minute he decided to have one of those laptops run Tux Paint, which is a free open source graphics program that is made for kids under 7, which turned out to be a good move because a lot of visitors were kids. The kids seemed to really like Tux Paint so it was all good. In any case, here is what the sign looked like.

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Here are a few shots of the table that I took before Maker Faire NoVa opened to the general public.

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Here’s Phil Shapiro at one of the laptops setting everything up before the show began.

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And here’s Phil showing off the two laptops with Inkscape and Tux Paint to the general public.

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One of the many kids tried his hand at drawing with Tux Paint.

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Near our table was one that was manned by Bob Coggeshall, who’s famous in the Unix world for inventing the Unix command sudo.

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There were all kinds of projects that were run off of Raspberry Pi, such as this vintage teletype.

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There were also all kinds of 3D printed projects that looked amazing.

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There was a refurbished gumball machine that dispensed 3D printed charms for only 50 cents.

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It was at that gumball machine where I made my one and only purchase from Maker Faire NoVa: A tiny 1-inch printed 3D printed Darth Vader who’s seated like a Buddha. I only paid 50 cents for this cool item.

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There were also some vintage bikes that the public can ride.

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It was at Maker Faire NoVa where I got my first-ever real life glimpse of a Bitcoin mining machine.

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It was also at Maker Faire NoVa where I got my first glimpse of American Girl’s 2018 Girl of the Year doll. Her name is Luciana Vega, she’s into STEM and her big ambition is to be the first person to explore Mars.

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This boy was showing his work in progress on his latest project. He was in the process of building his own BB-8 robot from the Star Wars movies.

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There was just a variety of things I saw at Maker Faire NoVa that were simply astounding.

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George Mason University’s Fairfax campus is pretty big. In fact, I think it may be as big as my own alma mater (University of Maryland at College Park). I briefly went through the campus Barnes & Noble store, which had copies of Michael Wolff’s controversial bestseller about Donald Trump’s first year in the White House called Fire & Fury.

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I really had a blast at Maker Faire NoVa. It helped that the weather was in the 50’s that day so I was able to wear a light jacket instead of my heavy winter coat for a change. I even saw my first robin of the year while I was walking around outside going from building to building while checking out the event. (The entire event was spread over four buildings.) Sadly that warm weather was a short-lived thing because the weather turned really cold and rainy the next day followed by a snowstorm.

The only downside about that event is that for about a couple of days before that event I started to have stuffed sinuses. By the time of that event my throat felt more scratchy as I talked more and more with the general public while I worked at Phil’s booth. My legs had grown stiff and sore by the end of the day due to the huge amount of walking and standing I did throughout the day. The following day I felt extremely tired and sick. I ended up spending most of the next week sleeping (with the exception of the couple of times I went out in the snow where I did some shoveling two days after Maker Faire NoVa). I even ended up skipping the big March for Our Lives on the following Saturday due to being sick. But the video, photos, and fond memories from Maker Faire NoVa made it all worthwhile.

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Last year I attended a networking event at TechShop, a giant makerspace located in Crystal City, Virginia.

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This place was literally a makerspace on steroids. It was very large and it was filled with the latest top-of-the-line equipment that members could use, such as this machine.

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TechShop definitely had more resources than the local makerspace in my own neighborhood (which is run as a non-profit on a very shoestring budget). The only reason why I never joined TechShop is because its monthly member fees were very expensive. (I don’t remember the exact fees but I think they cost at least $150-200 per month.) Had the fees been more affordable, I definitely would’ve joined and tried going there at least twice a month.

Today I learned that TechShop has abruptly filed for bankruptcy and closed all of its locations nationwide. It’s too bad that this happened because it was an amazing place to see in person. I still remember the member who was building his own personal airplane and that plane was on display as a work-in-progress in the middle of TechShop.

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I only hope that this member managed to finish his plane before TechShop closed for good. (From what I’ve read online, it looks like TechShop didn’t even provide any advance notice to its members before it closed down.) You can check out more photos I took during my one and only visit to TechShop right here.

It seems like for the last week my mind has been overloaded with everything that has gone down in Charlottesville. I went to the second memorial event for Charlottesville in my event in a week. Here are my photos.

This event took place at the Greenbelt Community Church, which is a United Church of Christ congregation in Greenbelt, Maryland. It was organized by the Greenbelt Interfaith Leaders Association and it included participation by clergy from the various Christian and Jewish denominations.

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

This sign showed the schedule of events that took place during this service.

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

People were invited to take a flower from this makeshift altar and place it in the nearby memorial garden as a symbol of being in solidarity for peace.

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

The next few photos shows the wall in the memorial garden where people left the flowers along with a couple of poster boards and markers where people can write their feelings.

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

Various clergy gave speeches while people sang songs. The service ended with people lighting candles in a symbol of solidarity with the people in Charlottesville.

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

There were a few local vigils throughout the Washington, DC area in response to what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia. I attended one of them, which was called LOTUS Action: A Creative Response to Hate in Charlottesville on August 14, 2017. I also shot a few photos as well.

Here’s the shot of the venue where the event took place, Art Works Now, which is located in Hyattsville, Maryland.

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Here’s another shot of the Art Works Now building, which is located next door to Pizzeria Paradiso.

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The event started with people saying a few words about Charlottesville and Heather Heyer’s death while saying that we can’t let hate divide us as a people and as a nation.

LOTUS Action at Art Works Now, August 14, 2017

LOTUS Action at Art Works Now, August 14, 2017

Maryland State Senator Paul Pinsky spoke at this event.

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LOTUS Action at Art Works Now, August 14, 2017

There was also someone from the clergy present. The Rev. Anthony Farmer spoke about coming together against hatred and bigotry.

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The event was well-attended. In fact the small room was so crowded that some people ended up standing through the event.

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The event ended with music as everyone sang Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land.”

LOTUS Action at Art Works Now, August 14, 2017

LOTUS Action at Art Works Now, August 14, 2017

LOTUS Action at Art Works Now, August 14, 2017

There was a reception with pizza, which was provided by Art Works Now’s next-door neighbor Pizzeria Paradiso.

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LOTUS Action at Art Works Now, August 14, 2017

LOTUS Action at Art Works Now, August 14, 2017

LOTUS Action at Art Works Now, August 14, 2017

LOTUS Action at Art Works Now, August 14, 2017

I’ll end this post with a shot of the ceiling in the lobby of the Art Works Now building.

LOTUS Action at Art Works Now, August 14, 2017

Given President Trump’s very slow reaction to what happened last Saturday in Charlottesville and this bizarre rant he made today where he blamed both sides for what happened, I am now convinced that he is secretly on the white nationalists’ side and he is secretly proud of what they did. I wouldn’t be surprised if he blames Heather Heyer for her own death, to be blunt.

Which makes this animation I made back in the 1990’s sadly relevant once again. I originally created this animation in the wake of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. When I remastered it and uploaded it back in 2014, I honestly wanted to believe that it was a relic of a time when things were horrifying but this nation had managed to put it behind although, in reality, there has been a bunch of far-right wing extremists that has risen in the wake of Barack Obama’s 2008 election as the first African American president and 2012 re-election. (These are the kind of people who were aghast that a black man was actually elected not once—but twice—to the White House and they probably still believe that he was really born in Kenya instead of Hawaii.) Now I believe this animation is even more relevant now. At least my old 1990’s animation does a far superior job of denouncing white supremacy/Nazism/fascism than anything that has come out of President Trump’s mouth so far.

So, without further ado, here is The Unicorn With An Attitude #3: Speaking Right.

I wish I can say that I created this meme but I really got it off of Facebook. This is so totally awesome that it really needs to be seen by more Americans.

I’m starting to think that the Germans had it right when they banned the swastika flag and all kinds of pro-Nazi propaganda following World War II. While things aren’t 100% perfect in Germany, you don’t see a German film equivalent of Gone With the Wind that openly pines for the days of the lost Nazi regime in a postwar society, you don’t see Germans argue that the swastika flag is a part of “German Heritage” and the Jews must tolerate its display in public places, you don’t see monuments erected to honor Nazi generals like Kurt Daluege, you don’t see Adolf Hitler statues erected anywhere in that nation. Because the Germans were so thorough in their de-Nazification efforts, you don’t see Germans openly proclaiming how much they want to see the return of a mythic “Third Reich” where everything was perfect for the Aryan Race.

Unless the United States of America undergoes a similar campaign to get rid of all vestiges of its Confederate past, crap like what happened yesterday in Charlottesville will happen over and over again. And that includes HBO’s attempt to do this alternate history where the Confederate States of America won the Civil War. That’s because, as this tweet so succinctly puts it:

Until the U.S. begins an earnest drive to get rid of every last vestige of the Confederate States of America and everything that it stands for, it’s up to various individuals to shed a light on those pro-Confederate, pro-Nazi assholes. So far a Twitter user known as YesYoureRacist has been busy exposing the identities of those white men who were photographed in Charlottesville and that effort has gotten results (so far one man has lost his job and I’m sure that there will be more firings to come.)

Meanwhile, here’s a perspective on yesterday’s fuckery in Charlottesville from across the pond.

Last night a bunch of white supremacist jackasses marched on the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Today in Charlottesville these same assholes took their vehicles and plowed through those counter-protesters who were peacefully protesting because they simply want these neo-Nazi and KKK pussies to just go away. Right now I’m seeing tweets like these and there are literally no words to describe this.

It was only last month when I happened to be back in my hometown of Glen Burnie, Maryland when I came upon a parking lot with this yellow pickup truck that had this bumper sticker.

I can imagine the owner of that pickup truck cheering whoever plowed into a group of protesters in Charlottesville today. If he has an orgasm over this, I wouldn’t be in the least bit shocked.

This is the latest in a string of incidents that has led to the rise of the white supremacist movement, which began with the election of Barack Obama (because the American people dared to elect a black man to the White House) and it has accelerated since Donald Trump was elected.

I live just a two-hour drive away from Charlottesville so, in a way, it’s like this happened in my own backyard just like the police murder of Freddie Grey in Baltimore.

All I know is this. If you whine about terrorism from ISIL or Al Qaeda yet support the Ku Klux Klan, you are inconsistent because the KKK is a terrorist organization that is just as deadly as the other terrorist groups. If you support neo-Nazis then you are spitting on the graves of those people in the U.S. military who literally gave up their lives fighting the Nazis during World War II. There are no shades of grey when it comes to supporting white supremacists.

I spent the morning attending a networking event that was held at McLean Bible Church that ended at noon. Afterwards I decided to drive to Tyson’s Corner Mall mainly because I was just a few miles away and I don’t get to that mall too often so I decided stop there since I was in the area anyway.

I was last at that mall just a couple of weeks ago but I wasn’t able to take too many pictures because of the current problem with my smartphone camera.

For this latest trip to Tyson’s Corner, I decided to pack my older and heavier Canon Digital Rebel DSLR camera. I made every effort to charge my battery the night before. So I arrived at McLean Bible Church and took the first couple of photos with my smartphone camera only to have it stop taking pictures while getting one of those dreaded “Camera Error” messages. So I switched to the Canon Digital Rebel and took photos of the church because it was the first time I had even entered a megachurch (you can read more about this in my last post) until the battery in that camera ran out.

So I drove to Tyson’s Corner Mall and left my Canon camera in the car. I decided to just take a chance with my erratic smartphone camera since it was at least fully charged.

Miraculously the smartphone camera started to work again. I was able to take a few pictures during my time at the mall, starting with this photo of some interesting looking cologne bottles.

What’s really cool is that Art Whino has a store in Tyson’s Corner. I still remember going to their original store at National Harbor. It’s pretty cool that they have expanded to a second location.

I was able to make a return trip to the American Girl Place, where I was able to take the photos that I wasn’t able to take a few weeks earlier. The next photo shows the newest historical BeForever doll. Her name is Melody Ellison and she’s supposed to represent the 1960s. The way she wears her hair reminds me very much of the hairstyle that Marlo Thomas wore in the 1960’s TV series That Girl. My grandmother used to watch re-runs of that sitcom during the daytime while she babysat me (both of my parents worked outside the home during the day) so I have vague recollections of that series. (I haven’t watched it as an adult so I have no idea how funny or even good that series is. I haven’t heard that sitcom airing anywhere in years.) The doll was released last year but I haven’t been able to make it back to the American Girl Place to see her in person until recently.

Here’s Maryellen Larkin, who’s supposed to represent the 1950s, next to a pink refrigerator. I’ve seen real-life vintage photos of pink refrigerators and other pink appliances. (I read on one website that there was this popularity surge in pink items because it was First Lady Mamie Eisenhower’s favorite color.) I showed an American Girl catalogue featuring the pink refrigerator to my mother last year and she remembered when pink refrigerators were actually popular.

American Girl has decided to unveil a new line of modern dolls that aren’t the Girl of the Year, which means that the dolls in this line will be on sale for more than one year. The first doll released in that line is Tenney Grant, who’s an aspiring country singer and musician. (Think of a pre-teen Taylor Swift.)

This new line has also led to the official release of the first male American Girl doll. His name is Logan Everett, he’s Tenney’s closest friend, and he plays the drums.

The release of Logan Everett has been controversial. One pastor says that the Logan doll is American Girl’s attempt to emasculate boys. Some Native Americans are peeved because Logan uses a face mold that was originally designed especially for another American Girl doll—Kaya, one of the historical BeForever dolls who is also the only Native American character that has been released. The face mold with the closed mouth smile was designed especially for Kaya because her tribe discourages showing teeth when smiling. Using the same face mold for a white boy not only removes the cultural impact but it also implies that Native American girls like Kaya are more “masculine” than girls of other races and ethnicities.

Having seen Logan in person, I have to admit that I’m underwhelmed by him. He wears clothes that are reminiscent of the 1990’s grunge era but, otherwise, I’m not much impressed by him. He’s okay but he doesn’t strike me enough to consider saving $115 to buy him.

Tenney is cute but she doesn’t impress me enough to consider shelling out $115 for her. Although I do love her turquoise guitar with the cool white floral design motif. If American Girl wasn’t charging $34 for that toy guitar, I would seriously consider buying it for one of my other dolls.

There were other new dolls that I wanted to photograph but my smartphone camera started giving out that “Camera Error” message again. I tried rebooting the camera app and the entire smartphone itself but I still kept on getting that same message. At least I was lucky that I was able to take pictures of the various dolls before my smartphone camera app started to act erratic again.

Not too long ago I attended a Saturday morning networking event that was held at McLean Bible Church, which is located in Northern Virginia. I was hoping to find contacts who could help me land a new day job in order to pay the bills as well as getting any possible new tips on how to refine my search. Plus it gave me the opportunity to actually step foot inside one of those non-denominational Christian megachurches that have been springing up all over the U.S. since the late 1980s.

Before I go any further I want to explain my own religious background so you’ll understand why this post has a “stranger in a strange land” feel. I was raised in the Roman Catholic church. The parish where I attended mass from the time I was a child until I was in college had anywhere from 1,000-2,000 members. The church held mass four times a week (one on early Saturday evening around 6 or 7 p.m. and the other three on Sunday at 9 a.m., 10:15 a.m., and noon). While some people knew who I was growing up, there were times when I felt like I was just a face in the crowd of Catholics. I don’t recall too many efforts to have social events for the parishioners so they could get to know each other. Basically people attended mass then headed out the door the moment the last hymn ended.

I left the Catholic church when I was in college and I spent my college years identifying myself as a “secular Christian” (or a gentile equivalent of a secular Jew). When I was in my senior year of college I saw an ad in the Sunday Washington Post for Unitarian Universalism which read “Instead of having to fit in with a church, I found a church that fit me.” There was something about that ad that resonated with me in a positive way and it was a contrast to all those fundamentalist Christian groups on campus (such as the Campus Crusades for Christ) who were constantly trying to recruit converts among the student body so often that I began to loathe them because they became such a nuisance. I showed the ad to my boyfriend and he was impressed by it as well. I found out that there were no campus UU groups at the time, the nearest UU church was at least three miles away and I had no car plus the Metrobuses tend to run erratic hours on Sundays. So I forgot about the ad and still considered myself to be a secular Christian who was happily unchurched.

My boyfriend and I were engaged soon after I graduated from college and we began to plan our wedding. My fiancee began to express a preference for a religious wedding out of the blue. (I was always surprised by his preference. He told me that his family was basically nonreligious when he was growing up, with the exception of a few years when his family attended a Quaker congregation only to leave it when that congregation went through a nasty congregational split that disgusted his parents so much that they quit.) He remembered that Washington Post ad I showed him and suggested that we try attending a Unitarian Universalist Sunday service. So we went to our first service and we were really impressed by the format of the Sunday service. We were further impressed when they actually served coffee after the Sunday service ended and we found the congregation to be very friendly and upbeat (which was a welcome contrast to my memories of dealing with the members of my old Catholic parish). We learned that the minister who spoke at that service was only a visiting minister and the regular minister would be speaking the following Sunday. So we attended the following Sunday and we were impressed with that minister and the other members were very friendly towards us during the coffee hour.

Basically we kept on attending because we liked the church and its members and we eventually joined that congregation. A few months later, we were married by the UU minister and we remained active members for many years. I continued to attend Sunday services at that UU church after my marriage fell apart. (It helps that my ex-husband only sporadically attends these days.) Compared to my 1,000-2,000 Roman Catholic parish I attended as a child, the UU church I attend has a room where Sunday services are held that can seat a maximum of 500 people. Despite that, we rarely had to deal with the room overflowing on Sunday mornings. Right now my congregation has around 150 members. I know that it’s small but, as an adult, I find that I prefer a smaller congregation. I find it easier to make new friends among the congregation and it’s really a good feeling to go to Sunday services at a place where most people know your name.

I know that there are downsides to having a small congregation, mainly when it comes to what programs we can actually offer to fellow members and the wider community. We don’t have enough people to offer services that larger churches offer, such as a soup kitchen for the homeless or computer lessons to underprivileged persons. But the feeling I get that I’m not being lost in the shuffle (which is how I felt at times in my old Roman Catholic parish) makes up for it.

For years I had heard of people joining megachurches but it seemed like my then-husband and I bucked the trend by joining a small church instead. There were times when I wondered what a megachurch is like but I wasn’t that curious enough to consider visiting a megachurch on a Sunday morning because I really didn’t want to deal with people pressuring me to convert to their church. When I found out about this networking event at McLean Bible Church, I found the perfect opportunity to see what this megachurch is like without feeling pressured into converting. I brought a camera with me so I could take pictures.

According to the Wikipedia, McLean Bible Church is spread out over five separate campuses, which draws a total attendance of 13,000 people each week. I went to the church’s main campus in Vienna. I parked my car in the church’s two-story parking garage (which is definitely the largest parking lot I’ve ever seen for a house of worship). Seeing that building from the outside for the first time was an eye-opener.

I entered the church on the lower level and I felt like I was in the corridor of a very large hotel or a convention center.


The next photo shows the sanctuary where Sunday services are held. Unfortunately the doors were locked when I was there so I was only able to get a quick shot of the doorway windows giving you a glimpse as to how big this church is.

The networking event was held in a lower-level conference room which is about as big as the room in my UU congregation’s Meetinghouse where our Sunday services are held.

Around the corner from that conference room is a full-service coffee bar called Journeys, which was closed when I was there. I got a look at the menu, which offers as many varieties of different coffees as Starbucks. I noticed that Journeys prices its beverages around the same as Starbucks does. This is a far cry from what my congregation serves each Sunday. (We basically offer regular coffee, decaf coffee, and hot water for those who want tea or hot chocolate. It is entirely self-service and we only ask a small donation if you can afford it. It is all wheeled out on a cart after Sunday service ends. I don’t see my congregation ever installing its own full-service coffee bar like McLean Bible Church has.)

The women’s restroom was also an eye-opener as well. When you enter the restroom, you encounter a rack full of brochures that people can take.

Each stall had a Bible quote hanging on the inside door so you get to read something inspirational while you’re doing your personal business.

But that’s not all. The women’s bathroom has a large room off to the side. It is a lounge that has comfortable seats and a large-screen TV. I’ve seen the restrooms in some of the really fancy hotels have something like this but this was the first time I ever seen something like this in a church.

After the morning networking event ended, I stuck around a bit longer because I was really curious about this church. I went up to the second floor where I found this giant lobby area.

There are long desks outside the entrance doors to the second floor of the sanctuary where Sunday services are held. (Those doors were locked just like the lower entrances.) To me the area looks more like a hotel or convention center than a church.

The next photo shows a display table publicizing the church’s latest project: sending cards to members of the U.S. military who are stationed overseas.

The next two photos show one of two or three tables full of American flags encouraging people to send cards to the U.S. troops.

One of the side lobby had literature promoting the various smaller affinity groups that McLean Bible Church has, such as men-only and women-only spirituality groups and an affinity group that is devoted to people who have recently moved to the area.

The last picture I took was a view from a second story window.

Unfortunately the battery on my camera died after I took that last shot. I found a mall-style fast food eatery where people can order meals and eat them at one of the many provided tables. (That fast food place was closed when I was there. I have a feeling that this place, like the coffee bar, is open only on Sundays.) I’ve been to a few larger churches that have kitchens with dining areas but these churches only use them for special occasions (such as this one in a Catholic church, which I went to when that church had an Oktoberfest event that was opened to the general public a few years ago). McLean Bible Church’s facility definitely had the look of a fast food place that’s opened on a regular basis because I saw trays stacked in one area where people grab before getting in line. I saw a full-service menu with prices that were on par with what a typical fast food place charges.

I saw a sign touting a gift shop but I didn’t make much of an effort to search for it because of the dead camera battery and the feeling that the gift shop is probably closed on Saturdays as well.

I have to admit that the church is impressive in terms of the amenities it provides but I still prefer my small 150-member church. It means a lot to me to have a place where people recognize me and know my name and it would be harder for me to adjust to a megachurch. So what if my church doesn’t offer espressos or other types of fancy coffees like the McLean Bible’s coffee stand does. There is a Starbucks located just a short drive away for anyone at my church who feels the urge for a Coconutmilk Moca Macciato.  If you’re looking for something to eat, there are a couple of shopping centers located close by where you can have your choice of various restaurants ranging from fast food to a regular full-service restaurant.

I don’t mean to offend anyone reading this who has long attended a megachurch. I understand that you may find my preference for smaller churches to be off-putting. Just understand that I was not raised in a megachurch (even my childhood Roman Catholic parish would be considered small compared to McLean Bible Church) and I’ve grown used to attending a small church as an adult. If you like your megachurch, I’m not going to tell you to switch to a smaller church. I just personally prefer a smaller church for myself. That’s all.

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