The Sciences

Never Knew I'd Been Sitting in Pews (A Strange Story From the Front Lines of Coffeeshop Science Journalism)

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyDec 21, 2010 7:57 PM


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So this is kind of funny. At least since 2003, I've been working--including writing two of my three books--at Tryst coffeeshop in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, D.C. And being a creature of routines, over time I've established my favorite place to sit--usually, on one of two wooden benches against the back wall of the place. I've probably had ass planted in these seats for hundreds of hours in total over the years. Suffice it to say, it's a multi-year routine; and the best coffeeshop I've ever worked in. When I chose to move back to D.C. this year after a multiyear jaunt across Los Angeles, Princeton, NJ, and Cambridge, MA, Tryst had something to do with it. At the same time, as a second generation atheist,* I wasn't brought up religious at all, and the number of hours I've spent in a church is...well, it depends on if you count architectural tours in European cities, but it's surely a tiny fraction of the time spent at Tryst.

So it came as a total surprise the other day when, to my minor horror, I heard a waitress refer to these beloved benches as "pews." But as soon as she said it, I knew it was true. I then snapped the following picture. Proof. All this time, it seems I have been seated in religious benches. Kinda ironic, given the kinds of things I've written while seated there. (Although maybe some atheists will say, "ah ha!") Now, I know what you're wondering. Why are there pews in Tryst, of all places, in a city (D.C.) where the first thing most people think of when they hear the word is an organization that does surveys? That's something I may have to get to the bottom of. * Apparently we "second generation atheists" aren't "productive." Here's Conservapedia, where Einstein is wrong and ideological blinders are part of the business model: is not easy to find many examples of productive second generation atheists. While atheists raised in religious environments have occasionally been productive, atheists raised in atheistic environments are not known to be. On the other hand, it has been shown that second generation atheists who converted to Christianity early in life have been moderately successful.

I think I've been very productive as a second generation atheist unwittingly sitting in pews, at a very secular coffeehouse, without undergoing a conversion. I hope Conservapedia will footnote me.

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