March 12th, 2006

Dionysus

The Universe is Taunting Me

About a year and a half ago, I was pretty much forced to realize that while I may have a good, workable vision for how to build a Temple of Dionysus at St. Louis, the fact remains that I am so not the guy to build it. It really needs to be someone with a knack for getting people to work together, and that's just not something I'm good at; if it requires a group of more than about 3, maybe 4, then it's probably beyond my power to attempt.

So now, with that dream fading into distant memory, Home Heights Presbyterian Church, one block from my apartment at the intersection of Crocus and Marshall in St. John, has closed and the building is for sale. There's even a separate deal, a small starter house around the corner on David, that literally backs onto its parking lot, that would be perfect for a full-time officer if a Pagan temple could afford one. The whole deal's just sitting there, ripe for someone much more talented me to snap it up, taunting me with my failure.

It's not perfect. It's an older brick building, so it's going to need periodic expensive tuck-pointing. There probably isn't anything that can be done to Hellenize that architecture. And while the neighborhood is a stable working class neighborhood and fairly centrally located, it's not one of the neighborhoods that most of the Pagan community here in St. Louis would prefer to have it in. (Although for what it's worth, it's also only about four blocks from River and Joyce's place.) Nor would it be at all convenient to the theater district or the campus theater departments, which impairs its utility as a temple of Dionysus.

But the size is just about right, and I'd just about bet that the price is, too. I haven't toured it, but walking around the outside it seems to be a roughly 80 to 100 seat sanctuary, a 12 room (or 6 if they're large? can't tell) education annex, a basement office with exterior access from the main parking lot that's already labeled as the pastor's office, and a semi-detached (and more recently built) fellowship hall that seems to also have some usable office space. From the style of construction, I'd be startled if there wasn't more basement storage space off of the pastor's office that could easily be used for theatrical prop and costume storage with room for an Operation Food Search pantry. 40-car parking lot, blacktopped just last summer. And it's pretty centrally located in the metro area, only 4 blocks off of I-170, in between I-64 and I-70, with reasonably good bus service.

Starting new churches or temples isn't mysterious ... unless you're a Pagan, in which case you're probably determined to re-invent the wheel rather than ask how every other religion in America does it. Usually one to six families take out second mortgages to make the down-payment (most often, three), and it takes about 25 to 35 families pledging 1% of their gross income to cover all the expenses on a building this size. Yep. Entirely doable. Just not by me.

It's probably a coincidence. Still, I feel faintly taunted.