He fumbled with the pages flipping back and forth, trying to find the little black letters that synced with what he recited in his head. Focusing almost too hard, he could not quite catch up to where everyone else seemed to be, because he could not concentrate. Little monsters behind his eyes swayed his attention from the songs of praise filling his ears, to her exposed ankle just beyond his reach, to an unfamiliar word in the heavy book that weighted his hands, to the breath of perfume far enough away which he could not quite savor.

Cobblestone over cobblestone. Pacing steadily over the settled dirt of a thousand, maybe a million other sandals. Cracks filled up by particles of beach, mountain and desert, pressed deep into wrinkles the of this ancient street. My own black shoe powdered with the remnants of another world, stirred for a moment by every step I take. Smoky ashy remnants of a sudden volcanic eruption, withering olive leaves rotting in a quiet garden, pulverized rubble of a temple where God once dwelt. Dull, chalky, dirty history walking along the path with me, on me, part of me during my short morning walk.

A few years ago, I read a fascinating and somewhat controversial book called The Churching of America, by Roger Finke and Rodney Stark. In it the authors examined and brought to light the history of religion in America by arguing it works as a free market economy, an economy in which there are winners and losers. The authors were not pastors or theologians, but professors of sociology and they tackled the issue as sociologists. They do not speak much about orthodoxy or heterodoxy or faithful confessions but use the language of economics.