On an evening in March 2012 I was roaming the halls of a new church building in New York’s Upper West Side. The interior was bright, just a couple of notches short of blinding. The floors were so spotless that I could eat ice cream off them. It even smelled new inside. My eyes scanned details of what much resembled a concert hall, as I shrugged and thought to myself: “Eh.”
I had joined Redeemer Presbyterian Church four years prior, shortly after my conversion from Islam. I’d heard it that Redeemer (founded in 1989) had purchased a garage building, with the intention to renovate the garage into a church to call its very own. The new church had finally opened its doors about a month before my reception into the Catholic Church. The Church of St. Paul the Apostle, where I was taking RCIA classes, was dimly-lit and had a musky old-church smell to it. I’d set foot in the late-gothic structure because, one day, while I was passing by, the beauty of it had caught my eye.