I am looking at the crucifix and it seems to me that it’s a threat. I feel threatened by it. It seems to threaten what will happen to us if we don’t follow the Christian line. It says, “he paid with his life so you pay with your wallet, with your obedience to the Christian whim, or this will happen to you”.
There is no English in Church, which I think is why I enjoy it. There are two preachers one in Zulu and the other shadowing and simultaneously translating into Sotho. The choir master shouts ‘Xhosa hymn 466’ or ‘Xhosa hymn 414’ and there is a flurry of page turning and then the burst of glorious song.
I like it here. I can feel God’s presence here. I don’t, actually, want to be preached to, so I love that I don’t understand the priest’s words. It’s not why I came.
I have heard so much nonsense preached. I’ve seen too much manipulation preached and I have listened to a lot of bullshit too. Many preachers actually ask you to disengage your brain. They tell us that The Lord is not to be analysed, we must just accept the word and submit. Xca! Please man!
Here I can listen to my soul and hear what God says to me. Here I am touched by the music, the choir, the praise and worship and I am entertained by the pomp and theatrics of the Anglican service. There is everything to ensure a good show. There is the stage set with its drama of an Alter. Alters are about sacrifice and the Eucharist ritual is very much the preparation for sacrifice. And there is the cast of ‘servants’. The alter boys and girls; the girls with white veils covering their hair completely. Perhaps their hair is considered unsightly in the eyes of the Lord; or through the eyes of whoever it is that claims to be looking with the eyes of the Lord. The boys hair is not unsightly, I assume, because they don’t have to cover their heads.
The Mother’s Union seems to have diversified. It used to be white blouses and black skirts. Now I see there are the deep purple blouses and the lilac blouses and I’ll bet that beret with the big flower on the side was the cause of discussion. It’s not exactly uniform, though it is quite fetching.
The Preacher is yelling, now. Oh, the passion of this message has even dragged me from my reverie. Shame, both he and the translator are completely out of breath and there hasn’t been a peep from the congregation. But these ones demand no response. In the evangelistic charismatic churches they demand that you shout in agreement, “can I get a witness?” “Are you listening to me?” and the like. They demand that you acknowledge that you have heard and you agree. The congregations must go wild in agreement so that the preacher knows he has preached and reached them.
The main priest and Father of this church – the Star – has long white robes and a dramatic emerald green cloak with a gold trim. Gold! Inside the cloak is an emerald green sash adorned with embroidered red crosses trimmed in gold. It’s beautiful! It is highly theatrical costuming!
As I kneel in front of the alter I look at the cross with the figure of a man nailed onto it in a tortuous pose, and I ask him. “Is this really how you want to be remembered every Sunday? Do you really want to hang there and intimidate us with what happened to you? I think it’s morbid, and sadistic. Whatever happened to the gentle Jesus? You say we must come as children? Really? What child wants to look at this horror? No wonder we’re all so messed up. Looking at you is not healing, it’s terrorizing. It is past the time for you to get down from there!” And after I have told him this, I eat his flesh, and then I drink his blood and I wonder why I do it and I wonder who came up with this macabre, bizarre ritual that I have been practicing since my first holy communion; since childhood.
It feels good to be here, in this church. I like it here. I love when the drum beats and the singing reaches a crescendo of perfectly pitched soprano voices seeming to compete for God’s attention, and the men’s voices deeply resonant celebrate God. I feel the rhythm of the drum beat and I am one with the way our bodies all move in motion with the praise and hands reach up to heaven and people bang their prayer books to create complementary rhythms with the drum and a swell of emotion rises up from my core, from the depths of my soul and I feel a peace and a happiness and tears roll from my eyes and I am transported. It is one of the most beautiful things in the world.
And when church is over, my face carries the smile in my soul and I give and receive many, many hugs on my way out and my emotions are tingling.