There are a lot of strange buildings next to freeways, so whenever I go on road trips, I like to play the game "Church or Outlet Mall." Usually, it turns out that the building is both, so even though I always end up right, we all lose.
Aside from the gimmicky edifices built to pull people in, churches and malls also both run on the same business plan: they want you to spend money to be told what kind of person to be. The only difference is that an outlet mall allows its flock to worship more than one designer at a time. Unless, of course, you count the father, son, and holy ghost as separate designers, but I don't. They are all part of one big corporation and separated for marketing purposes, like Banana Republic, Gap and Old Navy. If you wanted to connect this analogy more definitively (and we might as well), it seems reasonable that the Father is Old Navy*, the Holy Ghost is the Gap**, and Jesus is the Banana Republic †.
While shopping centers pull farther away from religion (or is it the people who are pulling away? Shoppers are much more likely now to use a credit card than paper currency. In debt they trust?), churches are becoming more like merchants (churchants?). It is hard to find any house of God that doesn't have a gift shop within it. I find this practice distasteful, like the CBS store on Broadway. I want to think of CBS as a giant beacon emitting television and radio for the good of the masses, my God should be too big and powerful to need the extra $12.95 brought in by a CSI Miami mug.
* They are both old and war-like.
** Neither a ghost or gap is visible.
† They are the cool, expensive ones?