I have been in Berkeley California on and off since Monday, September 9th, 2019.
From time to time I pray for people silently that God bless or help them and at times I pray or bless them out loud, depending on the circumstances and how appropriate it seems for me to speak. I tend to pray for or bless those who are nice to me in some way, those who are pretty or fun in some way and those who are sick, injured or afflicted and appear to be in need of help, though I suppose I have missed on praying for some of the mentally troubled.
I will guess that on a normal weekday that I bless silently 3 to 30 people during walking on the sidewalks
On the first day that I was here there was a guy handing out New Testaments on the walking path going from downtown onto the university campus. I forget what city he said that he was from. I think it was from out of Alameda county. Alameda is another major city in the county and the county has the name of Alameda.
Berkeley itself is somewhat north of the Oakland the large city. Some parts of Oakland appear as if they are broken down. I think that earlier in the week, in Oakland, I was near what sounded to me as a series of gunshots, followed by the arrival of 4 police patrol vehicles with lights and sirens.
Oakland has some bad crime in parking lots. People inadvertently leave an item of value visible and then other people break the car windows to get it, in parking lots of grocery stores, Target, shopping malls, of Starbucks, etc.
A local police officer of Berkeley says we/us/them have it badly as well, though I have not seen nearly as many spots of shards of glass in parking lots as I had seen in Oakland parking lots.
The nicest or one of the nicest coffee shops plays classical music during the week and right now, early Sunday morning, there is church music or acapella singing being played. The music seems to come from a radio station playing mostly classical music.
From time to time while out in public and mildly interacting with other people I at times bless them out loud. I do not remember if that is how I parted from the Gideon guy.
The north part of Berkeley has a small shopping area with a Safeway, several restaurants, a bookstore and a JCC (Jewish Community Center). I have been in that area twice and interacted with dozens of people, including some of the nice ones of the JCC.
I do not remember if I had prayed out loud that God bless some of those people, but I do not remember any of them replying with God bless you.
The first day of a clear reply of God bless you or something very similar that I remember was on Saturday, yesterday. There is a farmers market here on Saturdays and I was sitting in a chair near one of the entrances.
There was a woman who was elderly and walking with a walker and with difficulty. I blessed her with God bless you and she replied she was an atheist but she also thanked me and appreciated the blessing.
Not long afterwards, a different woman replied with some blessing either God bless you or something very similar, or, “and you!”
Berkeley seems to have a relative paucity of normally evangelical churches and an abundance of non-normal things. Berkeley has at least one Buddhist temple, one Krishna consciousness place, one JCC, one Friends Quaker church and I think a UCC. You see these things while driving about, though the Krishna place I know of cause they were chanting and walking in public on Friday. There is a Kingdom Hall of the Witnesses but it is easy to not drive by it if you are not intending to do so.
There is a seemingly African American tendencied church called the Mount Zion Baptist church, one Presybterian church which has taken in political prisoners and refugees, one Orthodox and quite conservative Presbyterian church. There seems to be no Calvary Chapel and no churches of Christ.
There is no Assembly of God by name, but there is a Bridge church which is of the Assemblies of God or related to them.
On Saturday after I was at the farmers market I walked on some of downtown Berkeley. There were 3 persons who seemed to been of noticeable mental distress, in addition to whomever was sleeping on the pavement in some way.
Two persons seemed to be talking to no one in particular. One person was lying on the ground in what was mental or physical distress. I called 911 to inform them of the guy; someone else had also called to have them check on him.
A few days ago outside the library there was a guy who had the look of being homeless and who was advocating that 1) Homeland security was watching for him or something, and 2) a good idea would be to abolish the government because it is a tyranny.
I looked up some of the churches after the woman told me she was an atheist but she was happy and appreciative of my blessing her. I figured that if there were some more Christians in the area who knew her and were blessing or praying for her that her claim to be an atheist might be different.
So I thought that some of the Christians in Berkeley should consider praying for the “I am atheist but I thank you for the blessing me,” woman.
The Assembly of God seems to have no Sunday evening service. The church building is within both walking and driving distance of all important things downtown.
I wondered if I should afflict them by visiting them at 6:45 p.m.!
Sometimes I do things on a Sunday morning and everyone I know also goes to church on Sunday evenings . . . so . . .
Berkeley seems to have a school founded by a guy with a quotation to the effect that it is not possible to teach love, charity, compassion, honesty, integrity, courage, etc. This guy, whose name I forget, with this ungodly philosophy, founded and ran one of the schools here.
The temperatures are in the 80s and low 90s. When it is 62 in the morning I feel cold. I have a friend in Orange county California who preaches at a church and who gently encourages a dress code including women not wearing shorts.
If people wear shorts to school and it is normal, as it is here, then, does a church have a rule different from normal school rules or different? I do not know!
There is more church music and acapella singing on the radio of this coffee shop now as background music.
The lady who was walking with a walker seems to be elderly and feeble but able enough to walk, with a walker, on her own.
She could easily be dying in the next ten years.
“I am an atheist but thanks for blessing me!”