There is a particular building nearby where I work and which I drive by occasionally, which was obviously in its original life a church of some sort — not a very fancy or ornate building like some decayed once-grand cathedral, but a quite modest and genteel sort of structure, a former Methodist church perhaps — and which now bears the title "The Athenian Society" on a little green awning which has been placed above the main entrance. Somewhat curious. The Athenian Society. In a plain, old, apparently decommissioned suburban Methodist church. What kind of place could that possibly be? I wondered a few times while driving past it on my lunch breaks. Upon googling it, no success in dispelling the mystery.
The modest awning over the doorway which serves as the marquee lends a touch — just a touch — of theatricality to it. So I inevitably imagined, when I was driving past this place, a club of respectable, yet eccentric, old gentleman who have somehow managed to get hold of an abandoned church, and sitting around in it, wine or sherry glasses in hand, enthusiastically and maybe somewhat drunkenly reciting bits of Homer to each other, or putting on the occasional play, a little Sophocles — Oedipus or Antigone perhaps — or maybe some Euripides or what-have-you like in some Victorian London club over a hundred years ago. Perhaps I have read too much Dickens. Of course, no such place would likely exist here today, and in this suburban setting. A group of classical devotees getting together to recite the Odyssey at the former Second Methodist next to the 7-11 on the corner? Certainly not. Anyway, the other day, I finally noticed that it doesn't even say, "The Athenian Society" over the door, it says "The Aetherius Society." The Aetherius Society is apparently a new-age religion of some sort. They believe in UFOs and yoga. Ho-hum. Well, of course.
So, there's no Athenian Society in town. But, there should be one. There really should.