As a Christian with a Bachelor’s degree in theology, I notice houses of worship. Their architecture and the names on their signs often tell me something about the faith of the people who gather within. What I see is not always uplifting. On my recent trip to Uberlândia, Brazil, I saw a couple that made me shake my head.
First, here’s a church building near my mother-in-law’s house. The sign says the name of the church is “I Believe in the Bible” Evangelical Pentecostal Church. Yes, the quotations are intended to be part of the name. Further, the way the phrase was structured comes across as a bit…unsophisticated.
Second, another place of worship in the same neighborhood has an even more creative name. The sign below translates to Eagles of Christ Restoring Lives Ministry. I assume that eagles are a reference to Isaiah 40:31, but whoever made the sign opted to use an image of the North American Bald Eagle instead of a variety native to the Middle East.
Brazil is a place of unique and diverse religious expression. From Afro-Brazilian to Catholic to Spiritist and Pentecostal, and all points in-between and many beyond. As strange as some of these seem to me, they represent the vibrancy of faith within Brazil. It will be interesting to see what the years ahead hold for the Christian churches in that nation.
A few years ago I set up Google alerts for news in English about Brazil. For a time I received only a couple of emails a week, with a few links each. Now I receive daily emails full of links. Brazil’s economy started booming (well, at least it was doing better than it had before), attracting foreign investment. Then the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics were scheduled to be held in Brazil, drawing considerably more attention. And of course, the pope visited Brazil just this past week for an international youth gathering. Brazil is a hot topic. So I might as well contribute to the conversation with an observation of my own. Brazil has more types of Mentos than the United States.
So far in the U.S. I have seen original, strawberry, green apple, cinnamon and fruit (aka “rainbow”). A mere 5 varieties. In the photo below you can see 10 of Brazil’s 12 types of Mentos. The ones absent are original and rainbow, which I saw no reason to buy to bring back to the United States since we have them here. I didn’t see cinnamon or green apple on sale in Brazil, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have them.
A couple of months ago I stumbled across a Salon article about how Ken Ilgunas paid off his undergraduate debt in relatively short order through a great deal of frugality, and then managed to get through grad school at Duke University without creating any new debt. Key to this latter accomplishment was living in a van. From this experience came a book, entitled “Walden on Wheels.”
Ken is a masterful writer, and anything I say about his book here will fall short. It’s a very personal journey from the state of New York, to Alaska, Mississippi and North Carolina. He has an eloquence, fervor for his topic and insight into the human condition that impresses me. That is not to say that he thinks his way of life is for everyone. However, he really hates debt, and I can’t say he’s wrong.
The book’s just $3.99 for the Kindle edition. For a very enjoyable, real-life story, get yourself a copy.