Music: C Very unimaginative. What can I say: vanilla keyboard sound, xmas songs, three women singing well together, i dunno. The first two songs mentioned virginity in JC’s birth, which by the way is straight up just creepy and dumb and that is also just so horrible and the cult of virginity in women is a huge asshole move so forget that.
people who will die in the next 20 years: That’s a good question. There we so few people there that i feel like i’d be earmarking people for upcoming death. Well, it’s usually like that i guess, but on a more grand, impersonal scale haha. For the sake of continuity i must though, so let’s put it at 5%, though that might be generous.
pastor charisma: B He didn’t say anything till the end when he sermonized for a good long while. Knowing a tiny bit of the back story on this creep makes me wanna give him a F, but i must forsake that for journalistic integrity… ? More on that later.
décor, iconography: Hm. Bad. Bad vibes over here. It’s like a creepy community center! All devoid of life. Weird. There were a couple quilts up with imitation stained glass patterns on them, kinda kitch. There was a xmas tree, also, like i pointed out last week, fuck xmas trees. Everyone sits on those ubiquitous stackable metal chairs with upholstered butts and backs, they’re set up in a U-shape facing a small podium. There’s a computer hooked up to a projector for reading captivating lyrics or bible verses.
food/drink: Rice krispy squares, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, probs other treats.
scare quotient: Well, they believe as fuck in the devil, and in an almost tangible evil. It wasn’t very scary sounding tho, cuz they were kinda “social justice”, so for them evil didn’t (at least on this day) take any form that threatens you as an individual, but is more of a conspiracy towards godless capitalism or something.
number of people: 30
The real story:
So I didn’t plan shit, but this time I wasn’t hung over. A friend suggested this place. It was close-by as well as being run by the fuckwits who owned the ellice cafe+theatre, notorious doucheheads. On my walk there i “couldn’t help but notice” a 50 foot high mural on one of the two apartment buildings they own, with a dead pastor’s face on it, glorifying his self-serving good deeds for the West End, co-sponsored by the west end business association of course. The tangled matrix of fuckfacery is ever so impressive.
Damn there wasn’t that many people in the room. Not expecting to be sticking out that goddam much. Wowza. The obligatory “So happy you joined us” was inevitable. While I wasn’t hung over I was very gassy and I couldn’t imagine a much more inviting environment to unleash hellish olfactory terrorism lol. There was a kid in the corner drawing at a table singing to himself in a very pretty falsetto. He tried to impress people with his falsetto german xmas carol but his mother shushed him.
Things began with one woman telling an OBVIOUSLY hilarious and adorable story about, of all things, marriage! It was so fucking banal; she moved on to tell us that god isn’t limited by time, which is pretty badass of him i’d say. She literally introduced the singing with “Let’s have some muzak!” and I was touched by the brutal honesty, but no one else seemed fazed.
So here comes the xmas piss in my ears. “Offspring of a virgin’s womb” is an actual lyric of a christian favorite, and i’m just floored, appalled. I could go on for a while talking shit and not saying anything much of value about this but seriously wtf it’s just wild to really take it to the level of naming the uterus basically. omfg. The keyboardist waxes philosophical: “God is holy and that makes me smile”. All this xmas song shit reminds me of one time that my friend James read/vomited the words to a xmas “book” he’d written as a tiny (infidel?) kid, where he describes JC as a “colb biab” (cold baby), and that made me smile.
Then some neighbours of mine show up, turns out i guess this is their church which will undoubtedly make me a lot more popular on the block if they ever read this. I avoided eye contact, I really did, I did.
They pass around the money basket. The woman tells us that it’ll pay for the heat… and of course, paying the pastor! It’s a funny, very direct relationship. She also tells us about going and singing xmas carols in headingley jail. And about how this time of year it’s the only time where it’s okay (legal? generally agreed to be in good taste?) to have christianity shoved down everybody’s goddam throats. Well, that’s your perspective i guess, what about the national fucking anthem, etc.
At this point they opened up the floor for people to share their prayers with everyone. The woman in front of me was a doctor and wanted people to pray for a patient of hers who, actually, clearly needed some help, apparently he has a harsh illness, is in jail, etc. So that seemed nice, you know, allowing for the platitude that praying for someone is weird if their don’t ask for it, blablabla, that’s hardly new. Then one lady goes on about how her friends have finally finished translating the bible into Kuna (Panama and Columbia), and obviously that sucks so fuck that. And she goes on about missionaries in Nicaragua, which, also fuck that. And she tells us that she knows people in stores can’t say it back, but she still says “merry christmas” to them. And someone went to her son, who’s a youth pastor in alberta, and told him “you’ve been my youth pastor for a while but i’ve decided to become a witch”. OK OK OK OK OK OK LOLOLOLOLOL AWESOME. But obviously she’s now “in the ministry” cuz otherwise it wouldn’t be much of a fine christian lie worth sharing with your buds would it? It constantly amazes me how “witch” and “witchcraft” is still in the everyday christian’s lexicon for evil and debauchery?!?! It’s crazy!
Then a wheelchaired guy tells a story about a mall santa telling him to slow down and everyone thinks it’s very cute and funny. I had a hard time understanding him, but i think the people there are more accustomed to his speech and picked it up better than me. So anyway, it keeps going, the next guy is quite prepared for his turn: he’s got his fuckin bible open, he was just pumped to share his philosophizing. By the way, these were barely prayers, it seemed like more of a free-for-all, which is obviously better entertainment for everyone, i appreciated that. But yeah, so he wants to go back to what they were reading last week, which is the revelations, which if you don’t know what that is as i didn’t, it’s basically endtimes shit, totally bonkers, just apocalyptic prophesies. Shit like the “whore of babylon”. This guy basically wanted to talk about how “Babylon is about systems where the rich oppress the poor”, and how without “god-centered poverty reduction”, anti-poverty work would fail (lol). And he did point out the horrible pattern of the rich having conditions on the pittance of a living that they charitable serve to the poor, and how if the poor should do “irresponsible” things with it, they use it an excuse to withhold it altogether. Crucial shit. He also cautioned people against judging the poor for indulging in alcohol, cigarettes, or crack. He pointed out that alongside the consumption of such substances is a generosity with it “that would put the rich to shame”. So a more or less laudable point of view on some things there i’d say.
This philosopher put an end to that section and the leader took control again. She prayed to their god, and in such a personified way! I don’t know if that’s the right word, I just mean that they seem to conceive of god as an actual human, just a super-computer version that controls the whole universe, and is also very chill and awesome to be friends with. AKA not actually a human; see i just can’t see how it makes sense other than through a strict and ultimately unimaginative reading of the whole “god made us in his own image” thing. If i cared for such an analysis, i’d have the humility to imagine humanity as cheap action figures compared to god, ones that are worth a laugh, soon break, and end up at the dump, soon to be lodged in a helpless bird’s esophagus, ultimately choking an beautiful, innocent creature to death. While she prays, a man in the front row dozes off and starts snoring, to everyone’s amusement/embarrassment.
It’s time for pastor curtis (from here on in referred to as “PC”) to strut his stuff. First he asks that someone give the sleepy dude a nudge, cuz i don’t know how other people feel about it when they talk, but when PC talks, everyone listens. Someone brings sleepy dude a cup of coffee; he looks embarrassed; i feel for him.
PC is frustrated by xmas cuz he gets too caught up in eating and gifts, boohoo. But he mentions that “housing stuff” is winding down, so he might get to be more jesusy this year. “What’s that about housing?” you might ask. Oh the church owns at least two huge apartment buildings on either side of their church building, as i mentioned earlier. In fact when i called to find out when their church was, a recorded voice offered me the parasite hotline, or inquiries about renting, before finally letting me know that services were at 10:45 every sunday. No matter what you want to say, I’m sketched out about evangelical christians – who believe in the reality of endtimes prophecies! – owning housing in the inner city. You know, beyond my de facto distrust of landlords, period, of course haha, ugh. fuck.
So after that xmas intro, PC just hops right back into the revelations, where they left off last week. Are they reading the whole bible, or is this a particularly wicked-awesome part of it that they just have to study? That question remains unanswered. In any case, picking up where they left off, there’s the thing where the kings give their power to the beast, and the beast wants to destroy the earth, the economy can’t work, the whore of babylon is drunk with pleasure, michael jackson just buys so many vases even though he cannot possibly enjoy them all to the degree to which they deserve to be enjoyed, money is just a trade or barter system, it’s a ridiculous concept that you have to make money to have a place to put your feet (eh landlord?), etc… One thing that i liked was that the pastor would pause every so often and ask people to chime in with questions or comments. The anticapitalist dude in the back loved it.
Moving on, PC is giving some historical reference for the bible, and just cannot help himself but to bring up the seasoned favorite: historical persecution of christians. I have recently, through totally unrelated reading (social anthropology about the origins of sexual oppression), come across the concept of the origin story, or history, as justification for the status quo. Here is a pertinent example, modern christians claiming a heritage of religious oppression. Hell, these fucks could send “missionaries” to Egypt or w/e, where there is violence (arguably persecution) against christians, instead of doing the soul harvest in central/south america or south east asia, and they could try and mediate a real conflict where they have “skin in the game”… agh fuck whatever, not really the point. I just wanted to mention the hilarious looking-back these people are indulging in, as if their christianity had any fucking resemblance to that of these historical people from across the world 1800 years ago. Back to the service!
PC tells a story about god fucking with some people to make them realize something, like probably that they should obey him i guess (legit guess), which seems like it happens a lot in the bible: horrible pedagogical tool bro, you’re a dick.
It’s now been an hour and a quarter, i’m all “fuck this” in my brain, but i hang in there and try to stay focused. People are bringing up the “millennium”, supposedly god locks satan up for a thousand years, then releases him, i know guys, wtf, i know. PC emphatically admits that the revelations are heavily symbolic, especially the numbers, maybe cuz god’s not good at math or something. I just want to reiterate that thing about shit being “symbolic” and not literal in light of the following:
anticapitalist dude in the back: “If satan is locked up for 1000 years and sin and stuff continues on earth, does this not prove that it is human nature to sin?”
And then when satan inexplicably gets released after 1000 years in jail, “things will get palpably worse” and the christians who hold onto their faith will get “real palpable rewards”, which, honestly, are like, clean white sheets to wear or something, from what i could figure.
Shit just stayed on that course, PC is all “Jesus, I look so forward to you wiping out all evil” and I can only really convey to a point how bonkers it is cuz these people are talkin mad sci-fi as far as i’m concerned and that’s no joke.
After this guy was done, they re-sang a xmas song and i bolted from there like a bat outta hell cuz i didn’t want to engage with the neighbz. One guy chased me to thank me for coming and hoped to see me again. I haven’t yet perfected the reply to that. “Yeah! See you in hell, mister!” or “Fat chance, bub.” or “lol” or “springs has a bigger screen, so fuck this place” or “this shitshow is gets old after just one whirl” etc etc etc