Music: A- This one was kinda special. There was a 4 part choir with about 30 people involved. This was the first time so far where the music moved me. It was really pretty. They sang sorta regular churchy shit, not very modern. Some choice lyrics, some of which I will discuss later in more detail but let’s just say they ended the service with hymnal number 420 (FOUR FUCKIN TWENTY) which was chock full of drug innuendo like this line: “let his love in us ignited more and more our spirits fill” (srsly tho that can’t be a coincidence).
people who will die in the next 20 years: 70% this place looked sad in this respect, at least until about 5 minutes before they started. At that point it looked like 95%, but it got a little less gnar.
pastor charisma: C- I’m tempted to go real low on this one because of the general tone of the service being so pathetic. They had 3 pastors, I feel bad for them cuz they aren’t good at what they do tho really.
décor iconography: C I had a lot of time to take it in cuz I got there early, but it was so minimal there’s very little to elaborate on. They had tinted windows in pale pink and blue, some altary shit going on with bread on it and bad bouquets of flowers, general early 90’s steez. But really not in a great way. There was a big cross to the left of the stage, very minimal and reserved, on the other side was a banner with like a strand of wheat and a representation of some humans. General inoffensive 90’s minimalism I guess.
food/drink: there was a potluck after, but I didn’t go to it cuz I was alone and fuck that.
scare quotient: no satan talk but they seemed terrified of their lack of future.
number of people: about 100 i’d say, maybe less.
THE REAL STORY:
So I was supposed to go to this one church but I looked it up all wrong so instead of a bunch of people going to this awesome church as planned, I had to look up “churches near 6** h** st” on the webs at 10:40 AM. I found this place, it started at 11, so I was all “fuck it”.
Highly unusual to get there ahead of time, but I sat there and took in the lack of sights. I was stricken by the lack of POC in there, that was a huge contrast to the evangelicals last week. I basically was disgusted by the young families there though, church moms and church dads fuck off forever, at least in a place where you have next to no peers. Like, how can that make you feel when the parishioners are dropping like flies around you? I was about to find out in a big way.
So yeah here it goes. The choir comes in single file from the back. They sing a song and it makes my heart ache and tears me up cuz it’s so nice sounding. Pretty cool. Ok that’s done.
Now it starts in earnest, but wait, it’s low budget spectacle! There’s 3 voices and you can’t see them! What is even happening i’m so curious before this technical mastery and sensory confusion! Holy shit 3 different people pop out from different corners of the room! Wow! How do they… nevermind, it doesn’t matter if this is devilish magic, what are they doing? Oh they’re all slowly making their way to the front and center of the congregation, very interesting choreography guys! I can’t imagine how you guys came up with this mysterious performance art! They’re talking about the church, the metaphorical one they’re a part of, and they’re comparing it a shed! Now that is some metaphor shit right there! Basically they’re making the comparison between something complicated like building a christian movement, church, that sorta shit, and building a shed, something very tangible! Hm! Bold choice! Once they’re all front and center, in a row, facing us, they each, one at a time, say “lord have mercy” and kneel! The symmetry, repetition is another very artful choice in this post-modern theatre! (…)
I dunno, that was just the lamest. Like the sorta thing where it’s all “we’ll make this shitty poem better if we incorporate some KOOKY theatrical element”. Bad grade 8 “experimental” theater is what. Anyway, the whole thing was about how they’re trying to process the fact that their church is dying, and they don’t want that to happen. So it’s probably also trying to be “fresh” and “interesting” and whatever, it was really pathetic!!! ugh, hard to watch.
But, moving on, another thing was crazy! The choir sang this song and here’s a lyric :”not in the dark of the buildings confining/ not in some heavens light years away.” Which is obviously connected to the fact that they’re trying to deal with the fact that their “buildings” are sorta like the dark confines of a coffin (lots of soon-to-be coffin dwellers in there). But also, “light years away”. FUCKING BIBLICAL ASTROPHYSICS BRAH. GET DOWN WITH THAT. I seriously could not believe that! Like heaven is not a different dimension, it’s just light years away. It’s breathtaking. But really tho, I mean, I can only really make fun of this, there’s nothing really to discuss cuz i’m not into theorizing the location of heaven, it’s just … wow.
And this train wreck just keeps barreling further down mount doom. Next up is one of those 3 pastors from earlier, now with a new theatrical piece, this one “for the children”. They get all the kids to the front. He comes out in a camping hat, walking stick (the modern ski-pole kind), travel pack. He introduces himself as “Journeying John”. He’s literally talking in dumbed down kid voice. He makes a few jokes that are really only aimed at the adults. I wrote this in my notes: “boring ass dad journeyer”. Essentially it’s the same story though: these people are scared about the death of the menno faith. This time it’s allegorized for kids, but i’m SURE they don’t get it, or at least not the meaning I find is really getting through to me. It looks to me like they’re trying to simplify their problem, using metaphor to make it seem like manual labour can fix their dying church, when the world is simply leaving them behind as an archaic cultural form. “dude the mega churches are expanding, you’re just not doing it like it needs to be done to survive inside this form of capitalism.” they must have one lucid friend to just pull them aside and break the news to them, right? WRONG, DUDE. WRONG.
Next there was collection, for which a (mother-daughter?) duo came on consisting in the promising combination of piano-violin. You know she’s just gonna rip up some fuckin gnar melodies while her elder holds down the solid rhythm section. Anyway, the violinist was pretty flat but I liked that, it made it more human, a necessity at that point. A type of failure that’s actually pleasant to encounter. Whatever, one that I actually am a fan of and all.
And now it just got sadistic with the cheap “twists” on the traditional service. The wife of “journeying john” (not like, in character, just his real wife) and some other dude go back and forth, she’ll say a short sentence and he’ll say something like “PROSPER” or “FAITH” or “BUILD” or whatever, some one word. Anyway it wasn’t like that the whole time but it was like, this would be so much better if it was just one person reading it, no cheap tricks please! I was just appalled at this point with this shit. Thankfully it was pretty short I guess.
The choir sang a song with the lyrics “freedom from the bonds that bind the mind to narrow thought and lifeless creed; free from a social code that fails to serve the cause of humankind”. First of all I much prefer humankind to mankind, as much as it’s still kinda dumb, but yeah that’s cool. Also the sentiment is nice, even if I wouldn’t really trust them to administer that promise, were they given a stab at bringing that about. But that’s only part of the point. Whatever, cool.
My notes are kinda scattered seeming concerning the sermon. I think that’s partly cuz i’m high and partly because they are afraid of naming and being too specific about their fears of failure, which is, again, what this part was about. “not idleness but attentiveness” “building a church → blow that fire gently” “respond faithfully when persecuted” These all betray a desire to go somewhere but it is quite literally impossible to see this place going anywhere but down the tubes of history. Anyway, I won’t elaborate too much on this, like I said I don’t remember much about it. I suppose worthy of note is the woman pastor, the first one since I began this experiment. She gave the bad sermon.
Before saying the lord’s prayer (which I remembered more or less in full, at least the parts I was paying attention during), she went “Oh god of perfect love”. And I was all, if this is perfect love, fuck you forever even more, god, you bastard. Or maybe I have unreasonable expectations from a “god”.
So another mind blowing thing was gluten free options for communion which just seems fucking sacrilegious because as if a holy piece of god can really make your fucking tummy ache, for real come on. There was grape juice available for communion too. I chose wine, which was actually sherry and I hated it (a little hung over). The communion wafers also weren’t wafers, they were like like mini tater-tot shaped breads. Probably baked the night before or something. Very cute. Oh and she said “spiritual food in the sacrifice of his blood” which seemed pretty cvlt-as-fvck to me. These guys go around with saucers full of communion breads and no one gets up for it. They do the same with mini shot glasses of sacrificial blood sherry. Different than what i’m used to.
Anyway, they ended with a couple songs, one in english, one in german. The english one had the sources written down (projected onto a huge screen, it was lowered and used only this one time) and that was cool. The melody was from a russian folk song, and the harmonies were copyrighted which was wild cuz I didn’t really ever think about how you could copryright that sort of thing, like a melody on an already existing song. But I guess it makes sense insofar as you assume the making sense of intellectual property rights in that way.
Yeah, it pretty much ended there. I raced out before having to talk to those squares alone. No potluck for me, but that was fine cuz I had bacon and hot dogs at home.