Music: C Inside sources indicate that the people who were supposed to make the music didn’t show up and so something was just thrown together at the last minute. Two microphones for three singers, an acoustic guitar and a bass. Normal worship songs, very sad sounding. “I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross”. I know this: an infinite amount of guilt and the risk of an eternity in hell. Anyway, amateur-ish music, which is fine, but nothing at all stepping out of the bounds of the totally predictable. I think C is a passing grade at school tho.
people who will die in the next 20 years: 3%
pastor charisma: Haahaaaaaa. Oh man. He had some cute stumbling around moments. He was more or less reading his sermon, which is the only part of the service he did. It was a boring sermon where he didn’t take any chances.
décor, iconography: A very small school gym. There’s some small xian posters thrown about and a “thank you for not smoking sign” which i appreciate as being from another era.
food/drink: coffee and cookies beforehand.
scare quotient: Didn’t get into any satan talk at all, but i coud’ve just zoned out for it.
number of people: 80
The real story:
Guess what: I am sick of going to church now. I’m so sick of getting up early. I think it’s partially because i’ve started having to get up super early far more often, which means that i’d rather tell church to go fuck itself on sundays. I used to find it novel to get up on what’s been, for the last many years, such a write-off of a day. Well, that’s worn right the fuck off.
I’d flaked out on Jaymie a few times already about going to this place. So i felt like i needed to check this one place out before hanging up the gloves. Bonnie-May came along for the ride, we’re quite the team.
So this service takes place in a school gym, inside one of those crazy wack xian schools. It’s somewhere in the north part of town, i don’t know the names of neighborhoods here. We were greeted straightaway by a bazillion people: they don’t get visitors a lot, is my impression and we made a medium-sized splash. Grabbed a coffee and off to the gym to get prime seating.
To get started, the host invites us to relax and welcomes all the visitors, and i wonder if that’s really just us or if there are others. Then the worship team takes the “stage” and the part i like is the plain formatting of the lyrics projected on the screen: straight white on blue, no images, no cool fonts. Looked like the blue screen of death with words on it. They are, yes, very plain songs delivered plainly, no zest, the only detectable emotion is weariness or sadness. That’s cool i guess. When they’re done their little set they get back to their seats so fast! Some of the singers seriously ditched before the guitar players were done strumming their last chords! Groundbreaking.
Then that guy comes back and says something like a prayer, and this may be a first for me, but they seem to be asking god to do good especially to christians. I thought usually they’d be all “we’re good, take care of the heathens please, they’re the ones who need A LOT of help”. Here, no. They want to fuckin get ahead. They got the cheat code locked in and they’re gonna use it. Well, he then asks everyone to pray for people who’ve requested specific stuff, which he reads out. They’re all about health problems and needing jobs. I think the reason there’s a taboo against gambling in religious circles is that you’d find out pretty quick that either god doesn’t exist or else “he” doesn’t give two fucks about helping you out. At least not in ways that would completely and very simply rule. Like these people with health or underemployment problems could really just use a very simple lottery win. But no: “god works in mysterious ways”.
For the collection, we are reminded that “god loves a cheerful giver”. Not a two-way street apparently.
Sermon time: the real pastor comes forward and i’m assuming he would’ve made a joke about the weather, but only twice a year do you get to make a joke about the time change. After the failed joke, time to get back on track with the theme they’ve been working on here for a while apparently – “Never Beyond Hope”. Which is mostly a toned-down lululemon christianity. haha. i wish i’d have thought of that concept months ago.
He focused on peter this time, i guess simon and peter are the same person in the bible maybe? I forget, whatever, it’s peter for sure anyway. So apparently peter was filled with contradiction: he did good things and not-good things. Sound familiar? Peter’s just like you! lol. So peter had a “fishing business”, which i imagine means he owned a boat and some nets? Or did he sell his fish to a canning factory? I was irritated by how many times this guy referred to peter’s “fishing business”, i feel like calling him that as opposed to simply ‘fisherman’ was to imply that he was leaving behind something more significant when he dropped everything to become a ‘disciple’. A sort of barely hidden class distinction? Meh. Fuck it.
I hardly took any notes for this sermon. It was pretty boring though there was a kind of neat cringe moment where he got all lost with his powerpoint presentation and it took him a while to figure it out, going back and forth repeating previous lines and glancing to a fro worriedly.
Basically, this pastor retold a bunch of bible stories involving peter failing at something to do with faith or being a good follower of jc and this was obviously aimed at showing us that even the most dopest disciple still fucks up here and there. Be that as it may! You can still bring people to church and boost the headcount and whatever else a good xian does these days. Somewhere in there was the question put to the crowd of if we’d ever been in a group of new people and started to tell each other stories of the most embarrassing thing that had ever happened to us. For me the answer was no, and i wonder what kind of people use that as an ice breaker with strangers.
Anyway, after the sermon ended i think it was all done, just like that. Nothing to show us the service was over, hardly even any words to indicate the closure of ceremony – i remember turning to Jaymie and asking if that was it. I liked that lack of pomp.
I don’t really have the same patience or interest in detailing all the little things that paint my subjective picture of the experience. I don’t have the usual speculations about labour or class or race or whatever that i might have had some other time. Here’s what i got: tons of fucken people go to church, but still not that many compared to how many don’t at all ever. And a lot of these churches, no matter the denomination or size, are more or less the same goddam thing. The mennos sound a lot like the evangelists who sound a lot like the unitedians, etc etc ad nauseum. After a while, watching even this train wreck, as gory and spectacular as it is, gets redundant and boring.