Music: B- Typical choir without quirks. They had a couple songs that weren’t meant for the audience to participate in. I always have mixed feelings about this: to be clear, I don’t think every single thing needs to be accessible to everyone, but i still always find it weird to be watching a choir perform what is meant to be a virtuosic piece in the middle of a non-virtuosic ritual. I stands out strangely. Overall though the music was pretty forgettable. I thought they were all fine and good at what they did, it just didn’t pull me in. Their closing hymn was to the tune of a welsh folk song which is funny because i just finished reading a book about the ancient celts and their fight against the roman (christian) invaders. oi oi oi.
people who will die in the next 20 years: 40%
pastor charisma: B+ Although she didn’t say anything very interesting to me, she said it in a way that, i thought, didn’t make her sound like either a psychopath or a bore, so yeah.
décor, iconography: Interior bricks to the max. I keep wanting to describe these churches’ architecture as ‘modernist’. I suppose the only architecturally ‘post-modern’ churches are the ones that look like hospitals and arenas; do they actually build churches for people with aesthetic sensibilities nowadays, or is it just cheap-o big box buildings? Anyhow, this place looks pretty neat, it reminds me of HSC (hospital in winnipeg), and there’s basically not a speck of colour in the chapel save for one ugly stained-glass window. Mostly just bricks, windows, electric heaters. There is an amazing looking organ, built in this very vertical way, and it has a rear-view mirror for the organist to see what’s the happs.
food/drink: Finally, a fuckin church that goes full boar on the treats, and doesn’t make you descend into a cold, unforgiving, frightening cave to get it. Fuckin coffee, juice, open face sandwiches, donuts, cupcakes, cookies, other treats, bam! Lots of people were there just for that, they didn’t set foot in the service, so, now you know.
scare quotient: zero.
number of people: 80
The real story:
Me and Jaymie went for the easy option this week: the social-justice united church close-by to where they live. Welp, I really want to get into some crazier shit soon, so pardon my laziness but hey: I go to fuckin church like almost every sunday, so basically fuck off. Most people are lazier than that, or … egh fuck it.
So we got there a little before it started. Jaymie wanted to switch their chair with one from the row in front of us that had arm-rests. An old lady reprimanded them quickly, angrily, and effectively. It was almost scary. I was wondering if we’d just keep pissing each other off until we started a brawl: i was getting kind of excited about that. But no, the choir all came in semi-formally, then the organist started playing some instrumentals before shit got all started. At first i was kinda disappointed in the organist to be honest – she wasn’t mashing keys too much. I like it when the organ has a million drones and gets heavy and crazy and this was the opposite, a polite, restrained organ for an audience of polite, restrained w.a.s.p.’s (except for the chair lady, she’s either latin-european or an orphan).
The pastor welcomed us, making sure we were cognizant of the fact that this was true no matter where we were from, or where we were going or something along those lines. I mean, they had gay flags on their sign outside, i guess maybe this was their way of formally acknowledging those? I can only speculate. Nevermind that the hardest applause of the service was when people were announced to be either pregnant or engaged or something of the hetero sort. Perhaps it’s just like political punk: the social justice united church needs to reassure itself of its openness while having the most homogenous group of white hetero followers, so they announce their openness, everyone nods their heads, and white people go on their white lives, clapping enthusiastically when they think more white people will pop out of white people’s wombs and whatnot. I dunno, looks very similar to me. lol.
Then they pause to “recognize god in [their] midst”. Then yeah she does that thing i just mentioned where she announces that some people got knocked up, and i find that WEIRDDDDDD. She tells us that god loves us and holds us.
Some other person comes and reads from isaiah and it has some funny lines about making a mouth into a sharp sword or that god says that in isaiah he would be glorified. Imagine that. some guy being all: “guys, god told me that if you’re chill with me, you’re chill with god, and if you are really nice to me, you’re actually being really nice to god”. Prehistoric dudes being all full of themselves? Oh yeah, and he says he’s the “redeemer of israel” or something and it reminds me of this gem of a book i got for free from the salvation army called “the coming russian invasion of israel” and it’s 1980’s prophecy, and boy are those evangelicals into israel. Also, that prophecy hasn’t yet happened BUT there’s still time for some of that. fuckin getting pretty off track here.
Now there’s a psalm with the choice line “i delight to do your will o my god your law is in my heart” which should please any fans of psychoanalysis or zizeck or lacan or whatever. The law is in your heart, inscribed there under layers of conscience and identity woohoo! The psalm went in this order: sung part – speaker – congregation – sung part – speaker – congregation – sung part. Everyone said their words at the same time, and it gave the whole thing many kvlt points. People who grow up with christianity have zero understanding of how creepy it is to read stuff in a big group monotone without feeling. That’s basically how holywood portrays cults and now i just realized that holywood is a compound word of the most HILARIOUS nature.
This is what i wrote next in my notes: “story about people going to chill w/ JxC for the first time” and although this is fully attributable to laziness, i can’t remember right now what those stories were like, and i’m sure they were kinda boring and whatever. Guaranteed.
The sermon started by explaining what the “Jesus Seminar” was. I didn’t know what it was so here: some scholars did this thing where they debated how real each individual jesus story was from the bible cuz hey, we can all agree that the new testament isn’t all facts. haha. They voted on it all, they had this system where there were different colours of beads to say how true or not true the story was, and obviously the black beads meant it was false goddam okay yeah sure obviously. I mean, i know that it’s just nit picky and blablabla but it just gets ridiculous over time this stuff. Apparently, they thought that if there was a quote from jesus, and it was ironic in nature, they were like “yeah, that’s probably something he really said”. Apparently the whole story of the resurrection comes from only three people? Huh. I wonder if that’s how many people started the elvis isn’t dead myth.
I don’t know guys. There were more stories, like one about a preacher that found out that maybe the most important thing wasn’t him, and also maybe instead of rules christians need invitations or something, also i swear i heard her say that jesus was “sharing needles and washing feet”, overall this was another banal “we are the world” defanged comfortable united church christian situation. I got more notes about the sermon but it’s just boring. No blood and gore.
So they clapped cuz some motherfuckers got engaged – look, i “get” it. But it throws me for a loop when that’s the shit people are supposed to clap for. Seriously. Tell a different fucking story guys. You got a rainbow fucking flag on your sign fuck sakes. Here: Next time someone in your church does something impressive that doesn’t involve heterosexuality why not announce that or something? I mean, sure, i was only there for one service, but hey, that’s what i saw alright? fuck.
The pastor then prayed for god’s peace to be all sweet to – wartorn countries – political conflicts – personal conflicts – families – playgrounds – between faith denominations – inside individual faith communities where differences cause strife instead of greater understanding – worried hearts – uncertain futures – and mostly to “turn us into instruments of your peace”. Then there was a prayer thing where people bowed their heads in either silence or they could also call out stuff to pray for. Some people did that. i thought it was cool. The lord’s prayer started with “our mother and father who art in heaven…” cuz total feminist triumph!
But seriously there was quite a few works by female composers in the music for this particular service which is no small feat considering the brutal hegemony of male composers and so that’s cool even though the songs themselves didn’t really tickle my fancy that hard.
Once it was all over, Jaymie’s first remarks were about how lifeless this service seemed, how it felt rushed. I agreed, it felt like so many segments crushed together with no continuity and very little feeling. Maybe it was partially the feeling of the room, that classic institutional feel. Maybe it was knowing that this space is actually used on a daily basis by a fairly different crowd with significantly different circumstances than the generally middle-class seeming white majority of the group assembled on sunday mornings in the chapel. Meh, who fuckin knows, and to be honest, i don’t super care. But it did feel lacking in soul in an almost creepy, sad way. I swear, next week we’re gonna check out some real weirdos and it’ll be more spectacular than these fuckin middle-of-the-road w.a.s.p’s.