A Sunday of unexpected strangeness

I brought the weirdness of today on myself, of course. I have been traveling recently, and this has reawakened my appetite for new experiences and re-evaluation of habitual thoughts. So after I blogged last night about cray-cray Bible stuff triggered by seeing the words “Explicit Gospel” on a sign outside the Calvary Temple in Orange, CA, I set my alarm for 9am so that I wouldn’t be late for the 10am church service. My journalistic ethics demand that I do a bit of research. And my curiosity was aroused by the term “explicit”. How explicit, exactly?

Looks less scary in the morning.

I guess I was expecting oh, I don’t know… at least a mention of the gay marriage controversy in the sermon today. But the church was set up more like an AA meeting than a church, with coffee and cake and grapes at the entrance, and lots of greeting and hand holding and talk of love. The vibe was friendly, warm, and relaxed. I felt very welcome and a little sheepish for jumping to conclusions.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a church without awful sing-along music, played by ecstatic, mulleted ladies in barmaid blouses and some geeky dudes on guitar and drums. After the first few songs were over, Pastor Ray surprised me in one way. Firstly, he stuck to the “love is God’s power” message that seems to be at the heart of the Calvary Temple theology. He also surprised me with his ability to fictionalize what’s already fairly fictional, adding colloquialisms to modern dialog to the story of Adam and Eve and Satan. As I sat listening to him telling the story of creation and the Garden of Eden, mocking evolution with creationist zeal at every turn, I found myself becoming childlike. As in bored. Really, really bored. And unlike the two kids in the row ahead of me, I had nobody to punch and mess with in order to pass the time. So after an hour and a half, I left, half relieved, half annoyed and half confused.

Religion’s biggest attraction for most people is probably the comfort it provides. This is nice, and I have no complaints in a way. The safe space of the church and the light through the windows made me happy too. However I can’t help but think that part of that comfort lies in the dumbing-down of the world; the turning of miracles into fairy tales so that we don’t have to try to understand the wonders of how the world really works, or wonder about the grey areas of life that really do exist day to day. It’s harder to get angry about than hate speech, but still disturbing for me. Harmless? I don’t believe so. In the USA, parents have the right to force their kids to go to schools where they are preached at and where creationism is taught. I consider this a form of mental abuse. Education should not include indoctrination. Storytelling is one thing. But presenting the stories as literally the truth? That’s another thing entirely.

I guess I was expecting Prairie Home Companion when I got into my car and turned on the Radio to KPCC / NPR. Instead, there was news. Far away in Wisconsin, a Sikh Temple had been attacked. Sikh is a really peaceful religion – an offshoot of Hinduism. It seems like such a terrible thing to happen on a Sunday. Or any day. I can’t help wondering why the shooter did it. As if anything justifies actions like his. He’s dead, now, shot by police, and hopefully was operating alone. “Early reports describe the gunman as a white male in his 30s.” – Mother Jones

I was so distracted that I parked in a handicapped space at Trader Joe’s as I went to buy comfort food in preparation for Not Leaving the House Again Today.

Whatever I feel about religion, places of worship should be places of safety.

I don’t know what to expect anymore. I just feel sad.

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One Response to “A Sunday of unexpected strangeness”

  1. Explicit Gospel – Reason #667 to be scared of Sundays in Orange, CA « Jean Barker's Sign Language Says:

    […] words can say « Chick-Fil-A pays the price for their cheep, cheep, cheep homophobia A Sunday of unexpected strangeness […]

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