The bells of St. Marty’s

To the faithful, they have entered a shrine and it’s appropriately dark and subdued inside. Members of the congregation speak in hushed tones. One man appears to be having visions.

Maybe it is the wine.

More than a few have come to find solace among the immortals of the baseball world. The pictures that hang from the hallowed walls of Joe Marty’s bar are worth worshipping. There is the immortal Rapid Robert Feller of the Indians, and the Yankees’ Don Larsen has just thrown a perfect pitch from that most sacred of mounds.

The man of the cloth shirt stands behind the bar and offers some counsel to those in need. A bell is rung when he receives a monetary offering. One man appears to be praying over a point spread. A woman is rejoicing after three Tom Collinses.

There is, of course, very little solace in a shot of whiskey. And these poor souls are not really in a house of worship. Or are they? Why is a church required for a spiritual journey?

If a relationship with God is what you seek, and going to a church strengthens that relationship, then get thee to a church. If it doesn’t work for you in a designated building, then why not pray wherever and whenever you want?

That question has been answered by one of Sacramento’s faithful (see “Good God … It’s Baby Rae!” on page 16). She can raise Cain, or a can of beer, during her ceremony and she doesn’t need an ordained minister to get it done. She certainly distains the one-size-fits-all type of religion.

And as they prepare to leave the cathedral of Joe Marty’s, they toss back one more and fear hell. The one that waits outside the door.