*this week features a guest review by my colleague Jessica. scroll down to find it.
Music: C Regular fare christian rock. Their main guy singer introduced himself to us before the service, his name is fucking “Johnno” WTF. Anyway, you know, lights confetti, fuckin the whole bit. It’s actually quite boring to me, it’s like they take boring music and just make it MORE. Not more boring, just more… anyway this line caught my attention: “the cross before me, the world behind me, no turning back”. Ugh. Jaymie was so moved by this shit that they had to mention just how vapid the lyrics to contemporary christian music are. It’s really really wild how stupid it is, looking at it from our perspective. The use of symbols as a stand-in for meaning is fucked.
people who will die in the next 20 years: <5% scary, but not surprising, old people don’t have time for this shit.
pastor charisma: D if you’ve got a working brain, A+ if you believe everything someone on a screen tells you, and subsequently learn to unconditionally adore your master.
décor iconography: This is another new-ass building with lots of sub-ikea decorating and you feel like you’re simultaneously in a day-care, an arena, a hospital, and a mall. There wasn’t much on any walls, pretty much empty feeling in terms of iconography and overt religious symbols.
food/drink: They have like 2 or 3 cafes and another one opening this week, or at least we were asked to pray that it may open this week. Obvz this shit ain’t free tho.
scare quotient: B+ I feel like this wasn’t a wild “satan will eat your babies” situation, but this evil fuckin pastor was pulling out some juicy tales. If your choice is between having or not having super-powers, maybe the prospect of not having them is a little scary after all.
number of people: 400-500 but there were 3 different services on sundays, lifting their attendance to the over 1000 mark for sure…
THE REAL STORY
Before I really start I should really warn everyone that this was the worst place i’ve ever been to, ever, probably. Although I haven’t gone thru my notes yet, so i’m not completely sure of this, I’m confident that there is absolutely nothing redeeming about this place. IT IS THE WORST PLACE.
It’s pretty far away, so Dan drove us in his car with Jess, Jaymie and B-May. When you get there you flash your lights if you’re a first-timer and they give you a closer parking spot and start harassing you right away.
When we got in there we got accosted by big ol’ Johnno the singing ogre. He didn’t tell us he was the lead singer, or in the worship band at all, but Jaymie had an intuition and they were totes right. He did have the absolute worst plaid shirt i’ve ever seen. By that point I was repeating this phrase in my head “this place is not okay”, like constantly. We walked around the building, there’s like a ring road around the main hall, with classrooms, cafes, teens dressed up as princesses (they say hi to us as we walk by), etc. Uber-institutional setting. Anyway, we probably brush off like 15 other “welcoming” assholes and go into the main room. There’s tithing envelopes on almost every seat with debit and credit card options, pre-authorized payment options, as christian rock plays in the background.
Then the big screens then start counting down from 3 minutes. At zero it’s boom – lights dimmed, dance beat comes in, worship crew of fucking dweebs comes on, and we’re slapped in the face with stupidity. B-May is just open-mouthed, hand-on-her-cheeks – straight 110% appalled. She stays like that for at least 2 minutes. She wasn’t prepared.
I gotta say that I was probably more forgiving of this cheap spectacle when I hadn’t seen it before, like at church of the rock. This place was basically the same thing except even bigger (gnarlier). And it’s just so not cool. It is not okay. Anyway, so pardon the tone of this review, again. I’m not happy to just trash this but it’s the only possible thing to do.
Moving on now, everyone sucks. There’s one worship singer just mouthing the worlds “thank you” in some attempt to I dunno, get laid or something. Johnno keeps saying “we love you jesus”, sound like he’s some drunk dude at karaoke dedicating a song to a dead friend.
Then the pastor’s daughter comes up and gives the motivational speech, saying that all of our hairs are accounted for by god which is just trite and stupid and anyone who believes that is a dumbass. She lists off a bunch of stories about people being saved from car accidents because of jesus, she tells us that she loves church and asks us if we do too… we’re supposed to clap for god… wtf is even happening.
Then they show a commercial for the church and the woman working at the starbucks (oh yeah there’s a starbucks in the church) wanted to have a baby, was told she couldn’t, is now pregnant, it’s all cuz of jesus… The two black people in it are thankful for the church, but also for canada, which they don’t take for granted… apparently god has called on springs church to “impact canada” whatever that means…
Ok, now the pastor, the famous Leon, comes on. But on a screen only, he’s in calgary at the moment. I think it’s pre-recorded but there’s really no way to know – he’s just so at ease. Regardless, it’s a little less awesome that he’s not there in the flesh but oh well. He goes on to talk for like 30 minutes straight, and I will try and be as brief as possible, cuz he doesn’t really say anything beyond this: BRING PEOPLE TO MY CHURCH.
He starts out with a story from the bible about this master telling his underling to bring people to his banquet and all the rich people are like “i’m too busy” and so he gets mad and is all “fine get those homebums to come that’ll show those rich turd friends of mine”. Leon thinks this means that his congregation has to go get people, preferably not cool people (“nerds make more money anyway”), to come to his church.
He also thinks being to godly gives him super-powers, like the time JC told him it was unsafe to leave the restaurant by the front door, so he went thru the back, everyone was all “hey! U cant b here!” but he was like “fuck it! Jesus said no front door!” and he keeps walking thru the kitchen, thru the back door and he decides to drive his car around the front of the restaurant and lo and befuckinhold there’s two big dudes with their backs to the wall either side of the door and they’re holding knives. AND THAT’S THE STORY OF HOW GOD SAVED LEON FROM A FATAL STABBING. Got some of those hollywood action movie villain enemies from your shady past, leon? When I decide to stab people, I wait outside, in a public space, and make sure people can see my blade from across the street in a moving vehicle. Morons just ate that shit UP.
There were so many of these bullshit stories, but they were just there to illustrate how inhumanly and badassedly jesus-powered old Leon was, how you could be too, if you did what he said you should, which is A) get people into this church, and B) give the church money. Now in regards to that last point, the money one, leon was also quite clear: you give us money, you will become instantly more successful in the economy. He even said a prayer which included “bless their careers, help them climb that corporate ladder”. “I’m financing the cause of christ” was his call to tithing.
They showed a commercial for leon’s talk show which looks devastatingly horrible: white couches, guests who look like assholes, etc.
Anyway, at some point we got gift bags for being first-timers. I haven’t watched the DVD yet, but it was boring shit in there other than that like a waterbottle. There was a coupon for a free drink from the cafe. When the service ended, some guy was on me like a hawk, my co-adventurers said it’s my mullet that attracts them. Anyway, he was super awkward, he probably was doing it of his own volition thinking that if he got me to keep coming he’d get a raise at work or something. “So, it’s your first time here eh?” “Yep.” “…” lol he was not prepared for a cold unengaging bastard like me I guess. Woops.
I went to get my free drink and the guy told me to keep my coupon, I guess he thought I could keep it for my SECOND time. Lol yeah right (I gave it to some dumb teens). He asked me what I thought of the service “pretty crazy” “yeah it’s pretty different eh?” no shit. He asked me if I went to church a lot and I told him I wrote church reviews and his expression darkened considerably lol. We left not long after.
We sure had some laughs on the ride back to civilization.
SPRINGS CHURCH: EVANGELISTS ARE SATANISTS
I’ve only gone to the Evangelical churches, which I refer to as THA JUMBOTRONS, and in this form they do not disappoint. In fact, my first steps into these temples of bombastic televised rock-concert-christianity are always sensational and thrilling. Each one (three in total: Calvary, Church of the Rock, Springs) achieves, upon entrance, an intellect-obliterating BIGNESS akin to a stadium, or an amusement park.
Of course, excitement wears off. Once the brain has processed and neutralized such a vast, kinetic space we’re left with something that fails to surpass the initial bewilderment: a cheap and soulless vaudeville that exploits any instinct of decency these fools possess.
HOUSE OF GOD
My notes say the church “lacks a spiritual presence”; I’m confronted by my own biases that see spiritualism as austere, solemn and quietly introspective. Were I a religious person I’m sure I’d be swayed by the stoicism of Taoism, or the Quakers. Springs church is designed for maximum visitor comfort: first-timers get special (closer) parking, within the church are like, five starbucks, lots of earth tones, there were three disney princesses there (YUP), speakers blast Christian pop that is like Skrillex remixing Good Charlotte, there are strobe lights and smoke machines, and it’s large enough that you can come and go without obviously disturbing people. “Fun” is emphasized and the old, rigid structures of tradition are rejected.
During the usual pop-rock singalong led by (always) three or four sexually frustrated white people, one black person and a wild card, I noticed that the audio/visual setup was off the hook and the church is quite cunning at creating an impressive simulacrum on the three massive screens. For instance: at one point a teeny little bunch of confetti came out of the ceiling, and when I looked at the actual stage it looked pathetic but onscreen it looked like a giant celebration! Well played!
“I LOVE CHURCH! DO YOU LOVE CHURCH?”
Was spoken by Eden Fontaine, presumably the daughter of senior ministers Leon and Sally Fontaine. Eden Fontaine grooms and conducts herself identically to a spa director who is coordinating a week of cleansing and mediation for bougie cunts.
If you raise your hand when they ask who is attending the church for the first time, you get a present! Around this time I finally realize that whenever we go to church I’m unconsciously fearful to talk to anyone or draw attention to myself because I (irrationally)(?) think they are going to take us into a room and never let us leave.
Not so. Inside the swag bag was a bottle of water, a dvd, a handy bible-verse book and some other stuff. I just left it there.
It appears the cornerstone of Evangelical christianity is lying. After Eden concluded her pump-up-the-crowd thingy the sermon began with – this was a first – no real-life minister but in fact, a perfect wizard of Oz-style televangelist. I actually wasn’t paying attention at first and spent a few seconds scanning the stage . . . but no, he was just a giant head illuminated on three enormous screens.
You know, I try to go into this shit with an open mind so it doesn’t give me any pleasure to report that I’m genuinely disgusted by the obsequious lies spoken by these ministers. They are perverse, manipulative lies: at Calvary in order to get money for an orphanage, a woman described a baby being buried alive; it’s umbilical cord eaten by a dog, at Church of the Rock the pastor described a conversation on Hezbollah with an Israeli man that obvs never happened, and at Springs the wizard of Oz announced that he’d intuited that a man killed and ate his wife, that he was a healer, and that his christly presence had caused a witch in Selkirk to become ill.
I could go into detail but you’ll just have to trust me that it is extremely clear when they’re lying and it’s not that I don’t believe that these events could happen, it’s that they certainly didn’t happen to them. And the audience makes little gasps and tuts of shock and it kills me . . . those ministers are predatory charlatans and are also the devil.
Cash rules everything around them, I guess. The rest of his bullshit was basically aimed at coaching the congregation to “compel” people to church; specifically people who have a lot of troubles in their life, not just “cool” people. Note: Evangelists love to pepper their sermons with slang and it is like a root canal of cringing douche-chills: Note 2: Hearing deeply uncool people say the word “cool” with lots of emphasis is just . . . mind blowing.
His strategy was to suggest describing the church with the same enthusiasm one would a good movie or a Denny’s breakfast, which in his deranged mind does not come off as weird and “religious” (his words), and people will want to go . . . blah blah meow meow kool aid, jim jones, etcetera.
My conclusion is that to the teleminister of Springs church: you’ll have your day of reckoning, bitch.