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Music: B+ This place had quite a few different sonic styles! This place had quite a few hilarious musics! When I came in there was someone playing a very disney-esque piece solo-style on the piano and people clapped when she finished. There was also meditation flute music, happy pop music, you know, shit around that subculture of christianity. It was VERY fun to be a complete outsider to it. If i had to be around this shit in a way that it affected my sense of self i would die a quick but clearly not quick enough death of total aesthetic sacrificial torture. But that’s not how it went down for me. I was able to sit back and stifle laughter and just “BE IN YOUTUBE” or whatever.

people who will die in the next 20 years: 10%

pastor charisma: I liked her. She was very simple and direct and she read a very long, cheesy, but moving poem. There were a few different people who presented stuff, almost all with their own brand of charm. I guess they all seemed so innocent to me, maybe that’s just sexism speaking tho.

décor, iconography: This place was like your grandma’s place, 20 years ago, stretched to fit a rather larger room. Ultimately this place was probably just a house many years ago, and so the room is just a little bigger than your average west end bungalow with no walls or attic. Dozens of pink plastic flowers installed everywhere. A poster with some statement about the earth and children, attributed to “Ancient Indian Proverb”, written in papyrus font. Soft pink painted walls.

food/drink: After every service there’s coffee, tea, and bunches of snacks. I was very very encouraged by one person to take part, she even insisted i take some just to go since i told her i “really had to go”. She said not to be afraid of them cuz they’re “just people you know”.

scare quotient: Nah dude, no scary shit here, we’re only afraid of “our power” or “potential” or some wishy-washy lululemon shit like that.

number of people: 30

The real story:

Two straight weeks of being bad at hooking up with people so i go alone. My friend Mike had put this place on my radar by suggesting i check out the “Angels and Aliens” symposium that they were having a few months back. I had to decline because it was on weekdays which are hella not the lord’s day (god has sunday, lucifer took the rest) and honestly what the fuck would my life be like if i turned this already irritating hobby into an even more time-consuming shock-horror-journalism endeavor. Answer: my life would suck more.

So i went to this church and dude, fuck, first thing that goddam happened was someone greeted me at the door, shook my hand, leaned in for a hug, i recoiled in polite horror, she quickly and embarrassedly explained that everyone got a hug, and sealed the deal. I don’t know how many of you readers are experienced in the art of giving perfect strangers unwanted hugs but that’s some awkward shit right there, and it is seriously stupid. I’m not a physically traumatized person and it’s all chill, mostly funny, when that happens to me, but i can only support people getting punchy around that shit if they feel the need.

Go from this into a room of people listening to a disney-like song of stakhanovite happiness and it all begins to make sense. These people are the old guard of positive thinking philosophy applied to flakey christianity, the kind where they’re too attached to concepts of “authenticity” (you will NOT believe how many times they used that word in the service. It could be a drinking game.) to like Springs Church, but there are still many parallels.

The host started by reading a very long poem all about believing in yourself, fighting against negative views people may have of you, stuff like that. I was sorta “whoa, boring”, but at the same time, the simplicity and earnestness was kinda cool. And i noticed she was choking up a bit. Turns out it was written by her son who’s currently incarcerated, so: respect. Somebody smarter than Einstein once said context is everything, oi oi oi.

Then they played a christian version of “I’m gonna let it shine”, which maybe is already a xian song, why would i know. people were all clapping along, the piano player, a different one than the disney song soloist, was also being super showey and trippin.

They all read out together their “statement of consciousness”, “mission statement” and “vision statement” which were all unity peace dude shit. And next came the xian appropriation of ‘ode to joy’ by beethoven. Had the foucauldian homoerotic line “Father love is o’er us, brother love binds mans to man”.

Affirmations time: did you guess that they’d be doing these? I wasn’t surprised. They ‘affirmed’ for each other that god is totally good, abundance is totally happening, there are no problems that you can’t fix with some god and some positive thinking, etc. The projector had an image of i-don’t-know-what with the thoughtful phrase “inhale love, exhale gratitude”, which pretty much sums up what kind of whack shit is passing thru their respiratory systems.

“The Word” is a part of their service where someone is assigned a ‘word’ and they do something with it. Probably not everyone does it as whacky as this week’s person. “Included” was the word on this fine day, and what better way to deal with that concept than to sit in silence as this woman plays her own composition “What would it take you to shine” on the flute while we’re ordered to “meditate”: eyes closed, feet on the ground, back straight. Hilarious. I kept my eyes open and played a funny mind game with her. lol. To conclude: “If the beautiful one is not inside you what is that hidden under you cloak? Namaste”.

In the ‘lord’s prayer’, they replaced the line “and lead us not into temptation” with “and guide us through times of trial”. I know catholics pretend that tru-real jesus invented that prayer, changing it would be an interesting thing in that context.

Came time for the sermony thing, and another person came up to deliver this. She started by assuring us that “there’s something very special and sacred going on in this room that i know we all feel”. Then it dropped, the “authenticity bomb”. She began by trying to define the concept of it, which for her was a combination of being ‘whole’, not being “controlled or diminished by society’s rules”, stuff like that. The ‘be all you can be’ of militaristic humanism.

She referred to Ellen Degeneres’ “coming out controversy” as an instance of someone refusing to “live a lie” and “coming clean”. So this isn’t a homophobic environment i guess. She claimed that “hiding away” from your… ‘true self’? ‘god-given destiny’? would poison someone (their spirit? or literally? or both?) She explained that this church giving her the chance to give lectures, practice writing and speaking, share ideas, it was all helping her live “as authentic as possible”.

There was also lots of talk about how she’s studying within this particular denomination or something, i don’t know exactly what, but essentially she was saying that she felt privileged to be able to do this work with the support of the church. But it all came down to: “our successes scare us more than anything” or “are you living the most authentic life that you possibly can?” or “i pray that all of you may live the most authentic life possible”. JESUS CHRIST. Full disclosure: Perhaps more than almost any other modern capitalist ideology, i am reduced to satanic giggling in the face of the “authenticity gospel” or the “church of self-actualization”, maybe the “holy wholeness of realness and trueness”. So that was cool to hear, especially since it was more or less completely read off a sheet of paper. Authentic delivery.

Then the meditation flutist, who by the way was also the disney piano singer, came up for another number, one she wrote entitled (wait for it) “HOW COULD ANYONE EVER TELL YOU YOU ARE ANYTHING LESS THAN BEAUTIFUL?” The title of the song was sung many times in there. Wowza, just when you thought it wouldn’t go any further. And in case you thought they wouldn’t take it further than that, the next song is Amazing Grace.

For the offering, they read a “prosperity affirmation” together. They timed that one just right. This was the only time that men were enlisted in the service, was to gather money. They were almost done, just some announcements, such as the fact that the tax receipts were in, there’s a meditation service sometime, there’s also the very exciting sounding ‘intentional community drumming’.

Then everyone got up and went towards the front of the church. The person in front of me told me i could come up with them. I declined. I was the only one sitting in the audience. Everyone else there was in a circle, holding hands, swaying to the music, singing “let there be peace on earth and let it start with me” or some shit. I wondered about how many people in this group go to folk fest. They said something about visualizing “our beloved mother earth”.

That was it. As detailed earlier, I was invited downstairs for snacks. It seemed innocent enough, i mean, obviously people are gonna be curious about my being there – I stick out when there’s only, hell maybe i’m the only one under 30 years old. What’s the fuckin deal right? Well, they’ll probably never know. I mean, i thought these people were probably pretty benign: they care about aliens, their leader’s kid is in jail, nobody there looks rich really, there’s basically no one there to begin with. Cheesy, not dangerous. To me. To me. Bottom line: to me. Tell me more, people of the internet. Am i getting soft?

To be fair, i made fun of them a lot didn’t i?

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