God in an Alcove

Founder Clifford Clifton’s masterpiece of Depression-era salvation through nutrition began its deathlessly tenacious life in 1935, serving the needs of the hungry and downtrodden for as little as 5 cents a day. The alcove sermons in the Little Chapel of Clifton’s Cafeteria are recorded inspirational passages broadcast in an upper-story stone room that fits about one-and-a-half people. The sermons play constantly, should you see the food inspector’s B grade in the window and wish to pray before and after the macaroni salad and broccoli. The Parable of the Redwood is delivered by a calm and fatherly voice of reassurance, accompanied by soulful organs and the placid view of a redwood forest.

It goes a little like this: “If you stand very still in the heart of a wood, you will hear many wonderful things. The snap of a twig, and the wind in the trees, and the whir of invisible wings. If you stand very still in the turmoil of life and you wait for the voice from within, you’ll be led down the quiet ways of wisdom and peace in a mad world of chaos and din. If you stand very still and you hold to your faith, you will get all the help that you ask — you will draw from the silence the things that you need: hope, and courage, and strength for your task.”

These pearls of wisdom broadcast on an endless tape loop, which is fairly fitting, given the eternal nature of the infinite Almighty, but they probably don’t play any selections from Esther or Song of Solomon, the two books in the Bible that don’t mention the word “God.” Come to think of it, nowhere in the Bible is the word “bible” written, and purportedly nowhere is it written that Jesus Christ laughed, although it seems as if he might have had a fairly good sense of humor, considering. Be it the end of the day or the death of the planet, these words of comfort — were they the last words you ever heard — would be the perfect way to go.

648 S. Broadway, dwntwn., (213) 627-1673 or ?www.cliftonscafeteria.com.

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