Witness

Shiloh Baptist Church is a 69,000-square-foot facility housing a 100-year-old congregation of African-American Baptists in Plainfield, New Jersey.
In short, exactly not the place you’d expect to find two pale Manhattan Jews on a Sunday morning.
Yet that’s where we were, as my wife and I attended the dedication ceremony of an old friend’s son yesterday. Impeccably dressed and smiling, we attracted curious, friendly gazes from ushers the instant we walked in, then sat down in the balcony to watch the service.
This was my first Baptist experience of any color, and frankly, it was pretty great. Shiloh’s pastor is expressive and upbeat, and the congregation participates vocally and cheerfully.
The whole service was a visual and aural treat. The pastor was loud and soft, happy and sad, unfailingly optimistic. The sterotypical “get a witness” and “amen” utterances were in full effect. People clapped, waved, assented, took notes during the power-of-positive-thinking sermon. A farewell ceremony to a retiring volunteer nearly moved the pastor to tears (“Can I get a tissue before I cry up here? … thank you God amen”). The choir, 40-strong and accompanied by a three piece band–organ, drums, sax–sang with smiles and moved in unison.
At the end of the regular service, the baby’s dedication was called, and our entire party marched down from the balcony to stand in front of the pulpit, in solidarity and ceremony with the family. I felt, well, white. But I also felt proud and warm to have been invited and participated in the ceremony. The pastor knows my friends and has an obvious love for children. He wore a huge, genuine smile throughout the dedication as he held the baby. The rest of us did, too.
After the service, we all went to lunch, where I met up with my gang, the first time in a long while that we’ve all been somewhere together. We toasted the baby, saw each other’s kids, congratulated one another on new jobs and promotions and pregnancies, and made plans to do it again, for the Super Bowl this coming weekend.
Congratulations, then, to Jerome Lonnie Jones III, and to his parents and grandparents, who have brought their first child into a wonderfully loving existence. I could hardly imagine a more uplifting day.

Recently on AIAIO

My business and tech blogging moved to AIAIO, the Alexander Interactive company blog, last month. I’m going to periodically cross-post links and follow-up thoughts on those items in this space. Recent pieces:
Pricing right—a pair of recent articles on price show that consumers are smart… except when they’re letting themselves be influenced.
Next-gen ecomm—with the explosion of iPhones and increasing wireless high-bandwidth access, mobile ecommerce is going to be the hot phrase of 2008.
Accessibility design—it’s like 2000 all over again! Except now, instead of discussing Netscape vs. Internet Explorer, it’s whether or not we accommodate 800×600 user screens.

Poseur

I go whitewater rafting most every summer with my friends from high school. Some years back, a bunch of us bought baseball caps to commemorate the trip. Mine is red with two oars and, in big letters, “HUDSON RIVER.” I wear it often, particularly on weekend-morning dog walks.
Walking in Riverside Park yesterday, with a calm Hudson River a few feet away, it occurred to me that my hat now lacks a certain panache.