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Ho ho ho! It’s that time of year again. Here’s JHK’s holiday classic: A Christmas Orphan.

11-year-old Jeff Greenaway hears his mom and dad argue one night after an office Christmas party. He infers from their garbled squabble that he is an orphan, found in a willow basket on the welcome mat outside their New York apartment. Thinking now that his parents are imposters, he steals away to Grand Central Station and buys a train ticket to Drakesville, Vermont, where he intends to start life all over again.
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Behold, the Morningside Church, Blue Eye, Missouri. Run by the not-yet-late and still-great Jim Bakker — remember Jim and Tammy Faye, who ran the PTL Club (Praise the Lord) out of their Heritage USA theme park in South Carolina back in the 1980s? Ole Jim got hisself in a whole mess o’trouble when a cutie named Jessica Hahn accused him of rape in a Florida motel and he paid her off to keep quiet with $279,000 of PTL funds. That was only the beginning of ole Jim’s trip down the Lost Highway. He was convicted in 1989 on 29 counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy, all involving shenanigans around the sale of “lifetime memberships” in his racketeering operation that passed for a church.

Well, after serving about eight years in federal prison, ole Jim is back at it, with a downscaled version of his Heritage USA theme park, now in Missouri. He’s been saved and all his sins are forgiven. And he’s still got the God-given gift of gab that brings in greenbacks by the bale from decent folks.

That-there confused pastiche of a suburban house and a shopping mall is the new church. Looks homey as all git-out, don’t she? And built for the ages, I’m sure! Makes me want to get saved, too.

Thanks to Mike Drach for the nomination, who offers the new term PoMoHoJo to describe the architectural style.

Jim and Tammy Faye (deceased) back in the day

About James Howard Kunstler

View all posts by James Howard Kunstler
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.

8 Responses to “October 2017” Subscribe

  1. jayrome October 2, 2017 at 12:47 pm #

    Crap al a mode!

  2. macseamus1 October 2, 2017 at 8:05 pm #

    I think the architect was going for something between the great Ottonian church at Hildesheim and a Days Inn. Mostly, a Days Inn.

  3. Architectural Observer October 4, 2017 at 11:52 pm #

    This is painfully bad. Not just annoying, or awkward, but really, really, hideous. Whoever “designed” this must have been inspired by multiple sources (Days Inn, 70’s-era Red Lobster, Disneyland and suburban branch banks, to name a few). I certainly don’t detect any liturgical influences which, I guess, makes sense given the ownership.

  4. AKlein October 6, 2017 at 6:47 am #

    WTF? I wonder, are there slot machines in the lobby?

  5. mow October 6, 2017 at 8:00 am #

    I cannot locate the air conditioned dog house.

  6. SvrzoH October 6, 2017 at 3:53 pm #

    With two (fake ?) dormer windows it is architectural cartoon of Tammy Faye and her eyelashes.
    As odd as it is ‘architects’ who do this stuff tend to go about with surprising self confidence and their clients, who do not know better, are smitten with aura of competence that they exhibit.
    There is no shortage of patrons for this kind of work, so they can proudly boost of having a successful career.
    They ‘practice’ in care free and beautiful world of ignorance bliss, void of acknowledging that there is a design / architectural challenge. They never pause or reflect. There is no struggle and sometimes doubt that accompany architectural profession. Anything goes, and is delivered with ease of magician, akin to writing in chapter of ‘Fountainhead’ book.
    Project above was delivered with high aspirations, but somehow all the energy (typical of those ‘architects’) was sucked in first few days
    due to skin-deep talent and we are left facing dry shell creation.

  7. bymitch October 13, 2017 at 3:46 pm #

    For us architects, churches always speak volumes, and on that level this one doesn’t disappoint.
    However, we are more used to lofty expressions directed up to the heavens and the almighty.
    In contrast, by its sheer weight, and connection to the ground, it looks like this building is gripped by the angles and being dragged beneath the surface by opposite forces.
    I would probably have to visit to properly unpack the mystery behind the ornamental detail references to the Munster family residence.
    These could be a light-hearted jibe at the very existence of evil, or it may be an honest expression of what lies within (?)

  8. RobH October 27, 2017 at 9:30 am #

    Why is the canopy so heavy?

    If you visualise the building with a canopy half the thickness or a third perhaps, the place is much improved; it is like a huge weight over all who enter

    My eye is also drawn to the bell tower, built on a box, to lift it above the rest of the building which makes it look stuck on. Maybe it is meant to look like a lighthouse? The beacon of hope?

    It doesn’t strike me as being to the glory of God. If I were God, I’d be underwhelmed

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