While waiting on trick or treaters to arrive tonight, I watched a little of a show on Stonehenge. At one point, the commentator asked what possessed these priest\kings to build this big monument? I laughed out loud. Every priest\preacher\pastor, whatever title you wish to use, wants to build. You cannot attend a Baptist church for long at all without a building program of some sort going on. I have attended the same church for a fairly long time. We have remodled our sanctuary at least twice during that time, renovated the basement under the sanctuary for Sunday School class rooms, remodled our other 3 buildings to various degrees, bought and renovated a grocery store, floated a 7.2M bond issue, finally paid off the bonds, and are now building a "connector building" between the sanctuary building and the education buildings. The next phase is for a new building to go up in the parking lot, which is supposed to result in the demolition of two oldest buildings.
We have had ups and downs in membership and attendance over the years. Membership is largely irrelevant in Baptist churches since many members never attend. Average attendance is a better measure, and our average attendance now in 2005 is almost the same, and may be a little less, than our attendance in 1977 when I returned from law school to re-join the church. I'm not sure what all that may mean, but it definitely means that all the building and remodeling had no lasting effect on attendance. So, you cannot say, if you build it they will come. We did. They didn't. Or at least they did not stay.
There is not much attendance at Stonehenge either.
So why did the priests build? The guy on the tv show said it was built to unify people and give them something bigger to think about than war and dissension. I think they wanted a monument. I don't know if it was a monument to themselves or to their deity, but it was a big monument they intended to make an impression for a long time. It is typical of monuments that the construction lasted longer than the memory of its purpose.
There is a story that goes around my church that the pastor that built the sanctuary wanted to build the biggest sanctuary west of the Mississippi. I guess the ones east of the river were too big to tackle. Or, like many Texans, the pastor thought that whatever was east of the river was irrelevant. Regardless, what was the purpose of that?
Like Stonehenge, the reason for its building has passed out of memory, except for maybe a few older people. But the building remains. Also like Stonehenge, it is impressive on the outside, but about half empty on the inside.