Music: B – it was pretty outrageous. Like everything you’ve imagined possible at a evangelical rock church. There was a band playing when we got there, like a million fucking people on stage. A bunch of classic evangelical christian fashion like the “charismatic” (read: disgusting) dude with the button up shirt worn in a “cool” way and frosted tips, I mean, not frosted tips, but like bleached hair with the roots showing. What is that guy trying to prove with that hairstyle? Everyone is trying to prove something with their hairstyle, he’s no exception. And he sucks. Jessica debated whether she should seduce and subsequently destroy him. There was a drummer and a bassist who were both wearing headphones (clicktrack?) and a lead and rhythm guitar, a keyboardist, like 5 people dancing around singing with wireless mics, and two seperate choirs. But yeah, nickelback caliber christian rock. They had these long ringout ends to the songs where the fucky hair dude would ramble about god and JC. One thing he said about JC was that he was “a worthy lamb who was slain for our sake”. It’s such a funny way of (seemingly unthinkingly) describing something they think is real. Like a Worthy. Lamb. A worthy lamb. What does that really convey?! Wtf. Anyway, cool lyric to a song “clothed in rainbows of living colours”. Haha, ok kewl.
people who will die in the next 20 years: frighteningly very few like 3-5%
pastor charisma: B+ he was super by-the-book so a little too predictable thus unconvincing
décor, iconography: this is the craziest place, it was like an arena. Walking in the first thing I said to jess was “this is awesome” and she laughed. There were a million flags from all over the world (and the provinces of canada, just to be safe) hanging from the ceiling. There were a bunch of flatscreen tv’s everywhere. Jess said there was a lot of purple. There was like zero churchy shit anywhere tho. Interesting. And the chapel, which was called the “sanctuary” on their maps (yeah they had maps) took up only like a fifth of the whole building complex. It reminded me of the newer sports complexes that have been built in the last 15 years, but more creepy like they’re trying to get inside you.
food/drink: free coffee after church, there’s a cafe where you can buy food n shit. Afterwards there was a bbq for 18-30 year olds. More on that later.
scare quotient: like basically zero today, it was all about loving your enemy, I guess. Zero satan talk.
number of people: over 300, maybe in the 400 range. Lots.
The real story:
as usual, we got there and shit (christian rock music) had already started. This place used to be a cable and wire factory (info from the glossy full colour visitor information pamphlet) and it looks wild as fuck. First thing we did was jess went to the bathroom and I went to the water fountain. When she came out she told me about how being in the bathroom felt like being in one at a big concert, 20-something year old women in there doing their hair and singing along (they had monitors and speakers in there so you don’t miss anything).
We chose our spots and settled in for the service. I noticed right away that, to my dismay, one of the most enthusiastic members of the choir was my favorite dude from Giant Pizza, my almost-daily around-the-corner pizza place. I guess i’ll get over it, I just felt like we had something and now I don’t think so as much maybe. I still love him though. So basically they all sang a bunch of songs that were really boring and polished and pathetic overcompensating at the old anxiety-at-living-in-a-purposeless-and-meaningless-world thing. Then this one pastor came out for a cameo where he told people they should sing along and like, imagine they were singing in heaven or something weird and ineffectively manipulative or whatever. The christian fashion up there just really deserves mention. I felt like these people were like those horrible people caught in high school or something, so desperately wanting approval from older people that they dress in the same way as when elder approval was structurally the only way to achieve success. They were dressed like the christians in high school did, I guess.
Then they showed this INSANE video. It started with allusions sex slavery in south-east asia. And some disgusting audio of a woman crying out about her being trapped in sin (!!!). I couldn’t really follow what was going on, maybe there really was no fucking point though cuz right after there was a white dude from churchoftherock talking about how you should join their youth group for kids between grades 9 and 12. what the fuck is the relationship between the youth group and sex slavery you might ask? Well, they didn’t get into that. But right after everyone clapped, and then that cameo pastor came out to say that each of us needs “a cause to live for”, so I guess that’s what’s in store for these kids: confusion and a flailing desire to help something abstract, misunderstood and sensationalised. Or something…
Anyway, then the band played a song they’d already played and people gave their money to the church. “god bless you as you give unto the church”.
Finally, the famous pastor Mark came out and the first thing he talked about was how some healthy-looking chinese youth had been baptized yesterday. And he made a joke about how he wasn’t allowed to baptize people anymore cuz he drowned someone once while trying to baptize them. Let’s all think about that for a minute.
This was a long sermon. Again. This guy talked like a politician, or a talk show host, basically someone who didn’t want to leave you a moment to think over the shit he was saying. When he seemed like he was gonna wind down for a pause you’d find out he was only winding up. This thing was long so unlike last week’s sermon I think I won’t go through it point by point.
He started off by saying that people have a misconception about evangelical christians, that they’re all republicans or whatever. Interestingly he pointed out that since evangelicals in the states have more or less completely endorsed the republican party, then he thinks evangelicals are constrained to endorse, or maybe just assumed to endorse all republican political positions. He made clear that he was against the wars in afghanistan and iraq from the beginning. So I guess he said his next series of sermons would be about “the new kind of christian,” explaining the real positions of evangelicals: develop “a biblical worldview” set in the present world. Overall the thing today was talking about the concept of loving your enemy.
The whole thing though, was so pathetic, like he didn’t take a single position, really, ever. He talked about a bunch of things, from the question of Israel versus Hezbollah, the nature of racial or religious conflict in general, pacifism, the possibility of western intervention in Syria, etc… but he never really said anything beyond that which cannot offend or whatever. Like he’d talk about how oh like politicians just wanna make war and whatever, how people don’t know eachother, that’s why they make war (huh, ok), but he never said how we should stop war except something like dropping food and medicine from planes over afghanistan. Anyway, it was well delivered to an audience who can’t respond and who don’t have a second to think about what he’s saying, not to mention that he’s all flattering them basically by giving them all the impression that they know what the fuck is going on, why injustice exists, what even is the matter with the whole system anyway. Here’s what’s wrong: … uh, people don’t know eachother enough so they like, kill eachother, torture eachother, stuff like that. If we could just organize a bigass potluck outside church of the rock, once a year, make sure every person on earth attends (cuz remember we’re talking about the war in afghanistan as much as pearl harbour as much as …) then there’d be like no problems or whatever. Barf.
He told a few jokes that it seemed to me didn’t even fit in the script, like one about a wife coming home from shopping and driving into the pool (wtf?) and I couldn’t figure out at all what the hell that had to do with anything. Oh and he said that marriage was like getting to make love and war at the same time or something, that was a funny too (barf, again). Something about returning a wedding dress and getting a gun instead or something, like cool domestic violence shit for making people laugh.
Anyway, turned out church today was “just a dress rehearsal for what’s to come” in heaven, so heaven is a really really horrible place everyone, so if they’re right about metaphysics… just kidding, they’re not, thank g-d. Before he ended he wanted to do a crowd participation thing, which I guess is just so new to me having grown up bound into the catholic thing. He wanted those who were feeling like they weren’t super as much dedicated to the JC to lift up their hand. After repeating this a couple times with no response I seen a girl get nudged by someone who could’ve been her mom, she lifted up her hand. Seemed like maybe the only person there who did, although pastor Mark sure acted like it wasn’t the case – fuckin just talkin’ about people that I seriously don’t think existed. But again, it’s all good for the tv cameras (I forgot to mention that, 3 huge expensive cameras). To close here’s what he said “Let’s give jesus a hand”, and people clapped.
After that was all over, we went over to see what this free bbq for young adults (18-30) was all about. After a while jess wasn’t sure she wanted in cuz she noticed that you had to like, participate in forced mingling in there with the strange christian youth. But we sorta talked ourselves into it, for the sake of the burgers and hot dogs. You had to like, find a match for this word that you were assigned. I got peas and jess got monkey. It’s a long boring story so i’ll go sparingly with the details but we talked with some dudes. One had a tattoo of st-michael stomping on satan, some epic catholic endtimes shit. It looked so dumb. It almost looked like a racist or nazi tattoo or something. Also, this person E introduced herself cuz she recognized me and sure enough we have friends in common which was weird cuz I guess it’s just awkward to be like “i’m here cuz it’s sort of a freak show” though I didn’t phrase it that way.
Anyway, we weren’t playing the game very well, mingle-wise, but I think some people were sorta going around making sure it was working or something, cuz all the right people just all showed up in a group and were all “oh! You have that! Wow!” I was sorta looking forward to getting a lowly christian mixer food handler clerk to see why “pea” went with “kryptonite” and just testing the levels of bullshit such a posi bullcrap square rule-follower environment can put up with. Or something. Me and jess ate with this engineer who was nerdy and weird but mostly weird cuz he’s a lame-o christian and it was hard to read him. He wasn’t putting much out there really, seemed like he was curious about us tho. But we split pretty quick.
It’s really bizarre to be in a situation where you’re like studying people, like they’re in their own environment, and you’re like looking at it “from the outside” supposedly, and it feels like I can just control these people, like I can hurt them but they can’t hurt me cuz i’m not even really there, but I can see their whole life. Anyway, it’s not actually that simple, whatever, but it feels trippy and maybe that’s how people of power feel in general when dealing directly with those who they control or hold immediate power over. Anyway, that’s a tangent, i’m sure i’ll have more thoughts on that another time.