Dispatches from Suburbia

If I played an instrument, I would have a band called "The Simon Thomsen Sex Tape"; and other musings, rants, and disconnected ramblings.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


"What the Gospels actually said was: don't kill anyone until you are absolutely sure they aren't well connected." -Kurt Vonnegurt, Slaughterhouse 5

For some reason, when I post I no longer have an editing toolbar that allows me to upload pictures. I only have a place for the Title and the body of the post. If anyone can tell me where my toolbar for italics, pictures, font size, etc disappeared to, please enlighten me.

So, on a completely unrelated topic, we somehow ended up at a revival on Thursday night. I find the different variations of praising the same basic principles to be fascinating. The Bible is a brilliant work, absolutely BRILLIANT, and when studying it closely there's a lot to be gained from it that's beneath what we already know. It's complex, and hardly anything, despite what many believe, is black and white.

I'm not a churchgoer, but Kim told me about this speaker who had supposedly been declared dead not once, but TWICE, had OD'ed, had put his hand through a window, and had spent much of his childhood locked in a closet. Even though this was in a church and the chances were that much of his speech would be about religious values that strayed a bit from my own, it sounded like he might have an interesting story to tell. In any case, my bullshit detector was going off (declared dead TWICE??) and I entered the church wary of this guy. Luckily, or so I'd been told by Kim, his speech wouldn't last any more than 45 minutes.

As a boy, my church experience had been the quiet, ritualistic Catholic mass that I attended every Sunday with Nana. I entered this church on Thursday to a completely different scenario (it turned out to be a "revival"). They had not a choir, but a band. People stood with a hand in the air as the band did their thing and I sat knowing that this was just not my bag, baby. Whatever your religious beliefs may be, Christian bands suck, and that's all there is to it. They SUCK. Even Jesus hates Creed.

Then the speaker came out. He was a big guy, and he began with "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son." I sat up, waiting for him to show us his scars or tell us how he foamed from the eyes from a heroin overdose. No dice.

He told us a little about a rough childhood, then went straight into his spiel about the only way to Heaven being through Christ (and rejoicing HIS way--chanting and speaking in tongues and crying out "Amen, brother!" He admitted a certain disdain for those off us keeping quiet). The way he spoke is what really got me--he said "Amen" at end of every sentence, and for whatever reason, he added "a" to the end of every other word. He wasn't even Italian. "...and I felta the love-a of Jesus Christa and I kickeda my-a druga addiction asa soon asa I lefta that churcha." Righta thena a drinka sounded pretty gooda.

He got everybody all riled up and speaking in tongues, except for Kim and I, who were trying to decide just what the hell was taking place around us, so I stood quietly and with the utmost politeness. To each his own, I decided. I came to the conclusion that, despite my discomfort with the situation, the least I could do (I was still a guest) was meditate on the Bible my own way--quietly, analytically, thoughtfully, without throwing my hands in the air and crying out "Hallelujah!" I could've been far worse because beside me was this little kid, and the shit was rolling about on the floor, totally detached (kind of like me) from the surroundings, and using my foot as a pillow. Meanwhile, her mother kept her eyes on that phony of a motivational speaker (Call me a skeptic, but there's no way he kicked a decades-long heroin addiction after a day in church, no rehab, no methadone, nothing. Either he was lying, or his addiction wasn't nearly as severe as he made it seem). I could have totally been a buzzkill by saying "Ma'am, I'm going to kick your daughter in the back of the head if you don't control her." But no, I allowed the lady to revel in God's glory, arms in the air and speaking in tongues, shaking with enthusiasm. She probably wouldn't have heard me anyway.

Then (there's more) the speaker asked for anybody wanting to get saved to come on up to the front. My immediate reaction: NO. I stayed at my seat, head bowed, praying in my own private way. Apparently, privacy is a sin at these revivals, because I had two people, not including the little girl, on two separated occasions, enter my own sacred bubble. Both of these guys stood way too close and informed me that God had asked them to talk to me. Was I sending heathen vibes?

I chose not to tell them that if they'd actually read something other than Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John they'd know that, unless you're Abraham, the voice of God would kill you. But I refrained. Both men went on to inform me that my only way to Heaven was through Christ. Both said that it was a simple choice, Christ or Hell. And both offered to pray with me.

"I'm good. Thanks though." I said to both of them before they each walked away, disappointment on their faces, disillusionment on my own.

So, not 45 minutes, but rather TWO HOURS later (thank you Kim), I returned to the car. I don't smoke, but a cigarette sounded really good. In our society, we sneer at concepts like Scientology (no, I'm not that either) with such disdain because of the ridiculousness of ritual behavior. Let's not forget that Scientologists are not the only silly ones.


At 11:05 AM, Blogger Laura said...

I'll stick to my Catholic mass, Thank you very much. And I ain't got a clue about where your toolbar goes off to. I have enough trouble figuring out my own. Most the time, I end up asking Sheila or her boyfriend, Joey. He's real good at the computer stuff.

At 11:49 AM, Blogger Erik Donald France said...

I love this kind of stuff, it's so CRAZY! In real life, though, I'm a cafeteria Catholic, and a sporadic one at that. The Devil made me do it! Eeee-ah! Woo-wu-woo!

At 6:00 PM, Blogger Michelle's Spell said...

This sounds great -- I'd love to see something like this again!

At 9:24 PM, Blogger mist1 said...

So what's your choice, Neo? Take the red pill and go with Christ. Take the green and go to Hell.

At 3:08 AM, Blogger ShadowFalcon said...

I'm so glad my religion only forces me to turn up and pray in a publis sphere twice a year for five mins.

At 12:01 PM, Blogger Erik Donald France said...

Simon, have you tried toggling to html mode? This may crack the logjam when photos won't load, etc.

At 12:05 PM, Blogger Lunchbox said...

It's like Bill Hicks put it: "Fundamentalism breeds Irony."

I knew that guy was full of shit the second I saw that pamphlet Kim had. I think beliefs are great, but I'd rather have an idea. It's easier to change ideas, and you don't have to be forced to accept God in someone else's way. In my view, there's no right or wrong religion, or basis of spirituality. But people like this guy hurt the world rather than help it, there is no way you can live that way without lying to yourself on a daily basis.

Oh, and I think we went to mass with Nana more for the pizza than anything else. Well, maybe the $3 lego toys she'd get us at Walmart.


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