At Home He's a Tourist

He fills his head with culture/ He gives himself an ulcer.

Sunday, March 09, 2003

The weekend wasn't so bad after all. Although I didn't do anything on Friday evening, and Saturday afternoon was spent on domestic/menial chores like cleaning the house and getting the car washed, things picked up (relative to my ordinarily static existence) on Saturday evening. K. and I went to the Pentecostal Church for the heavily advertised "Christian anime." Either the Pentecostals are ignorant or they are guilty of false advertisement, because the show wasn't a movie at all but a skit put on by a traveling evangelist. The Devil, dressed as a street thug, harangued the audience about the various temptations he uses to draw people to hell, while a gang of Goth gals as demons dragged people from their seats (plants, no doubt) and tormented them to the sound of heavy metal music. Sort of a combination of Screwtape Letters and World Wrestling Federation. Magic tricks and pyrotechnics added to the pizazz. Jesus, a clean cut young Hispanic in khakis and polo shirt, came to save the day. There were also hokey interludes when the large, painfully loud multimedia system played Christian music videos while the actors on stage lip synched and mimed along. The place was packed with people of all ages and races. At the end the charismatic producer/evangelist made a very slick altar call which got hundreds of people in the audience to go down to the stage to get saved--"right there, right then." Somebody tell me if this sort of thing is at all common in American Christianity--it seemed really weird to me. (But I'm a liturgical snob, after all.) Afterwards K. and I went back to my place for a less spiritual pastime--violent shoot 'em up games on the PS2 and (for me) an extremely dry martini.

Today was nice. I went to another Episcopal church in Lubbock. I was hoping that, being close to the Texas Tech campus, it would have a lot of students, but such was not the case. And surprisingly there was no coffee time after the service, so there wouldn't have been much of an opportunity to meet them anyway. But the service was "Rite I," which has the old-fashioned language and theology I like, and the interior was attractive in that elegant but muted way characteristic of the time when the Episcopal Church was solidly Protestant--columned, spotlessly white walls, chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, pews perfectly perpendicular, stained glass windows stressing the verbal over the pictoral. A string ensemble added to the general snootiness. But the priest was an unpretentious Southerner whose homily offered practical spiritual advice dressed up in homespun metaphors.

Then per usual I went to the Indian restaurant for their lunch buffet. Being the only customer, I was able to have a nice chat with the Sikh man who owns the place. We talked religion and politics without any of the proverbial unpleasantness as a result. When I asked him whether he found it difficult being Sikh without much of a like-minded community in west Texas, he said "The true temple is within," pointing to his heart. He had lived in Iran but got out when he saw people getting killed on the streets of Teheran during the Revolution. I hope he stays in business, but everytime I've been in there I've been the only customer so it doesn't look good to me.

I spent the afternoon shopping: I got a new pair of shoes and a nifty digital camera (3.2 MP, 6X optical zoom, movie and sound capability, 64 MB picture card) that I'm really looking forward to using. I'll have to buy some web space from blogspot and upload pictures.

In the evening I went to St. Christopher's for their lenten potluck supper and church history class. In discussing the process whereby the canon of Scripture was settled, the priest exhibited that nuance and moderation which I appreciate in Anglicanism. He pointed out that there were minor disagreements over the canon in the early church, and some books are clearly more important than others, but all of them (and even the Apocrypha) can be used for edification.


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