That other editor’s note: I was there. I know what we used to call grifters and carny types when I see them. One might also add, that what is described below was at a public venue, government owned and financed, one where displays of religion are taboo. Were I to display, lets say, a menorah there, I could be arrested.
Then again…evangelical christo-boshizionism is bad enough with its long history of thievery and persecution of, among others, real Christians.
Then comes “religious-soft rock,” the assault on music that makes one beg for disco and rap….
What does it take for someone to overstep personal boundaries regarding religion and religious beliefs? There are buildings, oftentimes quite large and ornate, where people can meet to share their belief (s) that someone is “watching” them, watching over them, will help them, listens to them, cares about them, loves them, will heal them, talks to them, guides them, etc. Pretty much anything can go on within the walls of these multitudinous edifices.
Let’s look at the “will heal them” belief. On a very lovely, sunny, glorious Sunday we were walking along the very large river that leads out to Lake Michigan. Many boats, of all kinds and sizes, were offering a constant “boat fashion show” as they moved, puttered, zoomed towards the lake or came in from the ocean-like lake. Some boats were tied up along the river and harbor and people were enjoying themselves with conversations, sharing beverages, eating, or simply just staring into space. As often as not there were dogs on board these water conveyances. Clearly, the boats were being used for “fun” of some sort.
Strolling toward the downtown area we came upon a new open-air concert venue with concrete seating on many levels. Grass lies between the concrete areas and this is a potentially comfortable place to view or listen to what is happening on the small, open-air stage which backs up on the river.
Did I mention that this was a Sunday afternoon? The acoustical system of the concert venue is rather robust and it is far too easy to hear what the person in front of the microphone is saying. This particular person was a woman spouting her life story, about how she was stricken with a disease, myasthenia gravis I believe, as it turns out, that robbed her of the ability to move. She went on and on about how much of a struggle she has had in order to becoming the person who can stand before them on the stage and use her voice to loudly proclaim that she was healed by the lord and that they too should call upon him to help them. As a matter of fact, she offered to be the intermediary in that process. She was going to be doing the healing for anyone who needed it.
It was not hard to see men with white buckets moving though out the crowd. Buckets that were meant to collect money for the person on the stage. Mind you every seat was taken, colorful lawn chairs or blankets and beach towels were covering every bit of lawn as there were easily 3,000 or more people listening to and soaking up everything this woman was shouting about, like it was gospel, or reflected on their own lives in some way. Who knows when they might find themselves in the throes of myasthenia gravis? People overflowed the physical boundaries of the concert venue. It was easy to hear from where ever you ended up sitting, even if you were walking away to escape the religious carnival and what can only be described as a freak show.
While walking past the upper limits of the venue, we were asked if we needed to buy a tee shirt or make a donation to this most important person who has experienced a most important event, and who would help anyone who needed help. Yes, she actually said that she would help anyone who had a medical issue, as if she were a medical doctor, nurse, physician’s assistant, etc. or the lord him/herself.
Remember at the beginning of this article I mentioned buildings (churches, synagogues, temples, etc.) where people who believe that someone, that they cannot physical see, hear, touch will take care of them can meet together and gain courage and strength from this belief system? These buildings can house everyone who wish to worship and there is no need to take “worship” to the public, open, common spaces. If I had wanted to be involved in the religious diatribe, I could have gone into one of those buildings.
Taking the religious world/word/beliefs on the road and giving it an actual very loud acoustic system in free space assaulted me and made me feel very uncomfortable. All I could think of was, if that lord, who she put all her trust in, apparently, her actual physical well-being, would let her get, or give her a disease, how in the whole wide world would she trust him to have made her better and trust that he would not give her another disease. Perhaps more incredulously how could SHE make other people well? I was sickened by the lack of any rationality displayed and the fact that we were simply strolling along a very lovely river, in a very lovely city, and were subjected to the crazy, disillusioned beliefs of another, or many others. Not just an irrational, schizophrenic belief system, but someone who was making money off people who were apparently seeking support of their own disillusioned beliefs. I felt sick and very sad and a bit frightened that there were so many, in my immediate proximity, who were willing to believe the unbelievable.
People no longer allowed to work at fairs and carnivals have found a place within the “religious” hucksterism that exists. On stage, clearly people have found another “job” instead of threatening people for collection agencies or cashiering at massage parlors when they can take control of a microphone and audio system and spew empty words, words that can harm those who may truly be in need of medical help. Bible babble should be shared by those who chose to believe the unbelievable, within the walls of those churches that they support with their money, time, and perhaps talents, not loudly and assaultively spewed into the lovely summer afternoon…..Carol