Most Americans have seen photographs of Portland Head Light. It is an astoundingly beautiful lighthouse that I have had the pleasure of visiting several times. A few summers ago when I was there, I watched other visitors running up and down trails in the park that surrounds it, taking their own photos from many different vantage points. I heard them exclaim, “Oh, it’s even prettier from this angle” as they scampered up the steps. Indeed, they are right: from each new angle is a handsome sight to behold.
I waited for many years to go there and see it. Our first visit, the end of a long, hot drive on a summer day, disappointed me and my family greatly. Since the whole coast was banked in with dense fog, we were unable to take any stunning photos of this beautiful landmark. The loud foghorn was blasting once a minute.
I expressed my dismay to a native standing nearby.
“Ay-uh,” he retorted in the typical, no-nonsense, brusque tone, “can’t say as it would be very useful on a sunny day.”
Churches are like lighthouses. Yes, they should be beautiful. But they have a job to do—guide people lost in the fog.