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Music: B- Not very high quality in general, but high variety. Let me explain: First there was a “worship ministry” (it always trips me out to hear a shit christian rock band referred to so pompously). They were pretty amateur compared to all the other ones i’ve seen. Plus, they sang rock versions of christmas songs which basically means everyone promptly deliver shotgun blasts to anything that moves, even if it’s your own body. There was also the children, more on that later. There was also an amazing violin solo which deserves a very long treatment: anytime someone steps up to the plate packing that sort of heat, in a church, you’re in for a treat. That much, I’ve become convinced of, so far 100% awesome, everywhere I’ve been. Now take this guy, aged about 40ish, for all intents and purposes tone-deaf, being accompanied by a teen on bass. The song? Well, the projector just tells us “Special Music: John Flanagan”. But i can tell it’s some xmas song. Doesn’t matter which, i don’t remember. And you will be glad to know that this guy’s playing was not flat, it was catapulted into different keys altogether, generating this satanic-sounding butchering of the much-loved xmas classic. The kid on bass didn’t know how to react so he just sorta didn’t play, just looked at his sheet music and pretended to play. IT WAS FUCKING GLORIOUS. You all might know by now that i love nothing more than dissonance and amateur butcherings or near-butcherings in the musical realm; well this was the pinnacle. MOVING ON. There was also a beautiful choir that sang a xmas song in Karen, the native language of many if not most of the congregation. They were very good.

people who will die in the next 20 years: Less than 5%

pastor charisma: B+ There was the incompetent seeming english pastor. That note is not for him, it’s for the sermonizer who sermonized in Karen and seemed pretty funny and I didn’t have to be bored by his very boring seeming sermon cuz I didn’t understand it.

décor, iconography: This used to be a lutheran church. go and figure what that means in terms of its decor, i don’t know a thing. But it had some similarities to last week’d church. Not as goth. But beige walls and painted/stained dark brown beams and other such wood. There were elaborate stained glass windows as well. A very cute organ, all small seeming with white pipes. Unfortunately they didn’t use it! There’s a huge arch, possibly made of marble, that slices the stage in two, kinda monumental in that space, kinda nice looking too. They had a fucking christmas tree tho fuck that. UM, EXSQUEEZE ME, PAGAN MUCH?!? Srsly fuck that. They also had wooden framed pictures at the back, like normal shoppers drug mart style go and develop your own pictures style, just of people from the church i guess. Gave it kind of a kindergarden/community center vibe or something. But also, the place was very small! Like it all fit into one city lot! So while it was tall, it was very short, and it felt like it had just been smooshed or something, kinda cute, kinda quaint.

food/drink: coffee and donuts after, but i can’t attest to the quality cuz we had to mega-bust outta there.

scare quotient: complicated. On their site it says specifically that they believe in the “personality” of satan. they didn’t talk about him this time tho.

number of people: 110?

The real story:

Another sunday morning, another semi-hangover church excursion. This is like some kind of fucking joke, like i’m a goddam rebellious teenager or something. More on that later tho, i swear it’s a cute story. So when we stepped in, they gave us little radio thingers with headphones cuz the sermon was gonna be in Karen, with the english translations being broadcast into those things. They didn’t know how to turn them on cuz there’s a “hold” button and technology vs. christians blablabla.

The thing started with a dude very gracefully and unsuccessfully trying to get everyone to say merry christfuckmas in a few different languages. A lot weren’t paying attention yet, and i think many thought it was kind of a boring exercise. People were still coming in and chatting and whatever. He was like an open-mic MC at a bar, at 8 pm, maybe. Things got better when they did the “peace be with you” thing and everyone got all that talking out of their system.

Anyway, one just can’t be unmoved by the worship band that comes on now. Oh wait, you can, the guy beside me plays a soccer game on his phone. Xmas songs, caricatural band leader of a different variety than usual, this time it’s the nervous overbearing (sexually frustrated?) church-mom, also a fun stereotype. She makes everyone read scripture together between songs, like you’re in a classroom. Ha!

When they’re done, she stays up there and up onto the stage are a bunch of kids from the Linden Christian Transitional School, which is apparently an evil place. They get these kids to hold up big letters that say some god-type shit on them, then they recite a poem saying that “god is there when…” “we have nightmares” or “satan makes us scared” or “we’re playing video games” (i heard an objection to this in the crowd, no joke) or “people make fun of us”. Then the kids have a percussion jam! And some xylophones play a christfuckingmas song melody. They were actually pretty skillful i thought.

Then people give money, which deserves a prayer first.

Then there’s the amazing violin solo which blew my mind and plastered a smile to my face. The guy beside me was probably playing soccer on his phone again. Everyone claps. Especially me.

Someone is walking around counting how many people there is. The english pastor does some praying, including that people are able to get their spouses to live with them in canada, he names them, he makes it personal. It’s kinda nice but i also think about heteronormativity and homonationalism and the weird privileges that don’t seem like privileges until they’re put into perspective and dumb borders and all the problems omg omg omg…

Then it’s TESTIMONY TIME. Testimony time is when the old men get up and talk about something they want to talk about. The violin dude talks about how at work there was a xmas contest draw or something and he had his eyes set on the new ipad and his wife had “claimed victory over it” and they prayed and guess what he won it omg. Why the ipad man, why not the fucking lottery, do the math. aka they’re full of SHIT. Then the principal of the school there of those kids that were up on the stage, he goes and talks about how the christians opened up a school in africa and 5 times the amount of people it could fit wanted to go to it, and “god is working in a very special way especially in these end times” go figure how much this guy is smart as fuck. Then this other old guy talks about how despite the upheavals in Myanmar the christians are still winning souls there. Then this other fuckwad talks about his missionary trip to where a large part of the congregation is from. He says the roads are “interesting” (code for “your country is poor”. OH REALLY.) and that’s supposed to be funny. He talks about how far away it is. aka WOW, HOW ASTUTE YOU ARE. Then was like “praying with them was so kewl n shit” and I’m all, oh that’s nice. dweeb.

The choir sings its beautiful song(s?). The sound in there, when people are making actual “nice” sounds, is really amazing, i mean, the “acoustics” i suppose.

I won’t get into the sermon much: it’s in a language i don’t understand. There’s the translations, but it’s just someone reading the point form translations that are showing on the projector. And it’s VERY VERY boring. And the signal sucks. But guess what? The signal for 104.7 aka streetz FM is very good! I show this to jaymie next to me, they’re one step ahead of me as they flash me their radio player display and a smile. It reminds me of the time in high school that a older kid lent me a copy of slayer “reign in blood” and i listened to it in church, hiding the headphones under my voluminous head of hair. That’s before I had heard of skipping church and smoking weed instead. Anyway.

It was pretty much done in there after that. That sermon was long. Dude did some trick with water and a cup and a piece of sturdy paper. Analogies without any understanding is a funny thing to encounter. It would have been nice to get the normal guy to sermonize in terms of getting a more accurate representation of what goes on there usually, but hey, this was cool too.