Sunday, 4 January 2009

Happy New Year (or Let's Hope 2009 Doesn't S@ck Too Badly!)

Well, 2009 is here.

Our New Years Eve was normally bizarre.

Let me tell you about it:

Edson and I went to meet his family for mass at the Church of the Risen Lord (CRL) on the University of the Philippines Campus.We were shocked to see how uninspired the decorations were this year inside the church.But that was just the beginning...

Service began with a three-man band, two on guitar, the other an electric keyboard. Judging from his expressions and mannerisms, the singer must have thought he was Bono. All the songs they had selected all seemed to have one thing in common: all were very short lyrically, and those scant lyrics were all repeated endlessly.

At the end of each hymn, the director of the services, a long-haired woman, would try to cut in with what she would say next. She seemed to be in the band's way the entire time physically as well. I guess you could say she was that group's version of Yoko Ono to the Beatles.

There's a reason Edson and I are usually late for mass those times we attend: it is the minister.

CRL's minister loves to talk.

And talk.

And talk.

And he loves to use power point presentations from his iBook. He really, really, really loves his iBook and iPhones and other gadgets, especially if preceded by "i". I secretly (Oops! Not much of a secret now!) think he believes Steve Jobs is sent by God, if he isn't God Himself.

Service that evening had his power point presentation flashed up on a screen mounted tastelessly and awkwardly in one corner of the altar. So as the service went on, the power point would change, reading "Call to Worship", "Invocation", "Prayer/Benediction", etc.

Were they doing this for people who had never been to church before? What is the point?

I can understand showing the lyrics to hymns. That is quite nice not having to look down into the hymn book, where you find most parishoners, singing into the pages.

At one point during the service we were all supposed to give God a standing ovation for his great work on 2008.

Does God really care if it is 2008 or not? 2008 is just a concept of time for our benefit. Man made time and calendars. Is God beholden to man's calendar? And while I'm thinking of it, does God care about our standing ovation? Does he care if we sit or stand or lie down? If we can't stand, does he think less of us? What if we can't clap?

I also found having two (yes2!) offertories to be one too many!

If having one offertory wasn't one too many to begin with (I don't think anyone needs their neighbors in the congregation watching to see how much they place in the collection basket...or if they place anything in it at all.), the second offertory necessitated everyone coming up to the altar and placing their offerings in a basket marked with their birth month...for "everyone's birthday".


During the sermon the minister revealed they had doubled their tithes in 2008. I'm not against a church not in debt, but the guy does like to make people feel they are better for having given so much more.

There's no need for two offerings! Just place the collection boxes at the doors of the church and let people donate when they come and go. Collecting money has no place in a worship service. If I want that kind of experience, I can go to the mall and shop, thank you. And it is more than likely I'd leave the mall with more than what this guy gives me during his sermons! (He usually gives me severe hunger pains, since he drones on for so long about how good the Lord is for inventing his cell phone. No, I'm not kidding!)

Anyway, after the services ended we pretty much agreed we weren't likely to go back again until they had a new minister. We got absolutely nothing out of listening to this guy, except for hunger pains and a sore butt from sitting for so long listening to him.

It's the same reason I stopped attending mass years ago. I was amazed that the priests could interpret every passage of scripture as God saying he wants me to give more of my money to the church. If the parish needed more in the collection, why didn't they just say so? If money ceased to exist tomorrow, I don't think God would care or be any worse off for it.

Anyway, after we left we had a great lasagna dinner for Edson's birthdayat his parents home with his whole family and then we came home where we had some friends over for drinks before the Makati New Years fireworks display.It all ended happily and safely in the wee small hours of the morning...and we still had unopened bottles of wine on hand. Add to those the three we were gifted last night, and we're ready for another party.


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