Monday, January 05, 2009

Singing Evangelical Tree



We went to the "Singing Christmas Tree" over the holidays. In it's 40th year, apparently; a heartening thought. Something that goes on for that long must be good. This is lazy thinking, the sort of logic that assumes that since some neo-con pundit with less sincerity than a used-car salesman in houndstooth has published a few best selling books, he must not be totally batshitinsane. Or the rationale that, "Hell, 5 million Scotsmen can't be wrong", right before you take a bite into haggis.

For those of you far too clever to be sucked into one of these 'events', a Singing Christmas Tree is a concert where the choir sits in risers shaped like a , well, you know. Except these risers go about 3 storeys high, and outfitted with enough light to pierce through even this curmedgeon's ill-view of Saturnalia.

It all started well enough, held in one of those mega-churches that are so non-denominational one isn't sure if they are in a church or a very polite talent show. The first guy up was great, youth pastor, he had verve and life and humour and a self-deprecating way that I took a shine to. I was this close to thinking "Hey, church isn't a dark cave of ignorance and hypocrisy. Or as much as I thought!".

Then they let the other pastors take over, who spent a good 20 minutes talking about all their great ministries! Then some time talking about topics they'll cover in the coming year. Somewhere in there Ye Olde Creationism trope is pulled out.

I pucker.

Then he asks "How many of you are first timers to the Singing Christmas Tree". Here I'm thinking, well, forty damn years, it must be a family tradition. There can't be that ma-- and about 80% of the people raise their hands.

Big, blaring alarm bells go off in my brain. Massive clunky things with klaxons and bells and little hunchbacks straining with all their deformed might, trying in vain to get me the hell out of there.

The choir starts off, hits a few good tunes. They've sucked me back in, visions of holly and snow drifts filled with young, rosy cheeked families dragging their Christmas tree home.

This doesn't last, because then the five singers who you see on every single evangelical TV show show up, with their sickly sweet vocals and semi-pop Christian music. I mean, they can sing, they got pipes, but their message couldn't be more ham-handed if you gave the The Thing two large sows and told him it was "Clobberin' Time!". Just bash you over the head silly with the same ol' message I've heard from glossy eyed teens and emotionally overspent theology students. Full of hope and straw-men and logical fallacies that would barely impress a reticent goat with an untreated ear tumour.

The part of me that kept me from bolting for the door withers.

But it gets better. Oh, so much better.

Somehow they fit in some hip-hop dancers to do a sorta Christian hip, but not too hip, dance to the music. I was far too horrified to find this funny at the time, and only now, 3 weeks later, has the horror subsided sufficiently for me to speak of it, but not without cold sweats.

And the coup de grace came, not with the thin edged rapier of subtlety, but with the 10-ton cleaver of ridiculousness. They had a running skit. Interspersed between more choir music and hip-hop dancing. A running skit by over enunciating Super Cool Christians doing a real "hard-hitting" story about "real people" finding the "real meaning of Christmas" (no, not Saturnalia). It was as if they squeezed in all the logical fallacies, all the cheese, camp, and ridiculousness of the past hour and honed it to a presentation so pure, so unadulterated, I started laughing. Out loud.

We left soon after.

4 comments:

Chris B. said...

Laughing only encouraged them. Nice work.

Monkfish said...

You clearly know nothing about Scotsmen

Niteowl said...

Chris B : I was hoping laughs of derision would keep them at bay. I may be wrong on that count.

Monky : happily so, I think.

Karen said...

On behalf of the mostlynondoofus Christians out there I would like to formally apologize for the doofus ones.