I’m reading this anthropologist text book from a researcher called Kottak and his very descript about what anthroplogy’s main functions are.
Anthropology is a social science that studies the different cultural and biological diversity using a holistic cross-comparitive study approach.
So today I felt like an anthropologist. Professor Dramasque Diva, studying the practices of protestant afro-american religion and what effect these religious rituals have on their subjects…using methods of participant observation
I didn’t intend to, my brother has been bugging me for days about finding my way to church, last unday I forgot to but yesterday night as I listened to these naive african americans talk about how uncouth the IoC was I didn’t have anything to say. Then they said they were going to church and there’s a bus that usually takes them to church. CHURCH! HALLELUJAH! A chance to take the sacrament and repent after 3 weeks of cursing. Besides, I had to lend something in to this ethnocentric conversation!(yes!don’t look at me like that)
This morning I woke up, bright and early, and much happier than i was yesterday :). I brushed my teeth, contemplated washing my body after 72 hours, refused subconsciously, went downstairs and had a chat with the “cool” girls. It was interesting, I asked how long’s the mass? and she said “5 hours”..yep! very interesting!
We got on to the bus with this girl who really doesnt seem to like me quite so much and drove there. The bus driver and his stupid naive/ignorant/racist questions “does IoC have food?” “where do ya’ll live”..idiot, we are all black!why can’t you just stop acting like that guy from white chics?And the girl who really has issues with me(we’ll call her Cow) was asked where she’s from and she’s like ” well I cant compete with her..”…such a jealous bitch yeh?
Anyway HALLELUJAH!We finally got to church and met lots of afro-americans. WOW!so communal! I got some breakfast and this woman came up to me and whispered “hey, have u been attacked in anyway?did somebody hurt you deary???tell me whats wrong? we’ll fix it”.. I said i did’nt know what the heck she was talking about but apparently the girls I came with reported the service guy for speaking to me in a really rude way. Aren’t they sensitive? maybe the man was joking! But he did in fact tell me “dont touch those plates now!!”
Mass is broadcast at the First Cathedral church because it’s so popular and so good. There’s dancing and singing, lots of it, it was even ten times louder than the step show I went for. As I turned to the rest of the girl’s they didn’t seem to think that there was anything slightly over-the-top about the situation. They were crying(real crocodile tears) and singing along. WE LOVE GOD! ME TOO!!…ME TOO?…YEHHH!ME TOO!!So there I was, waving my hands up and down, left and right, singing the lyrics to the hymns broadcast on two huge plasma screens on either end.
Whoever said churches struggle, is dreaming, this church was mega rich!!The “high priests” were sitting on seats at the corner of the stage, looking principle, both men and women..atleast baptists are co-ed! The Catholic church is so gender biased(now they have alter girls but still!)
The choir stands at the top of everybody up high and the band is on the other end of the stage(they were really good)
After the singing and crazy dancing and more-than-extravagent pledges of faith by crying and physically jumping up and down like monkeys, we drank the body and “bread” of the lord from little disposable airplane sized containers for milk(everybody got one) in unison. The parishioners cheered for their main pastor/Reverend of the church. He and his “Wife” came up to greet everybody and of course the crowd went ballistic. It’s funny, this religion seems vert overt in their ways of expression. a pastor can get married, in Catholic religions they can’t.
There was a live news video played for the congregation(as per usual the lights “dimmed” because all churches have “lighting technology” installed in their places). The broadcast detailed certain Baptist events happening this week and the next. Interesting, it seemed like an advertisement..or is it just me? This world is a business! run!!!!
At the end of the news bulletin, there was short comedic drama skit acted out by two african americans and the crowd was loud, excited, and reactive. They laughed at the african american joke cues and knew just what was going on. Not that I didn’t but me and the Cow were new to this church. After that, more singing and dancing, now I know why people sleep with the radio on! who knew?! More crying, more crying, I think I cried too.. The voices of the choir were so heavenly in synch that it was something to be praised. Like “praise the lord we have VOICE BOXES!” yes…very emotional..
As if I didn’t cry enough, a speaer from another church gave a sermon after, and he reminded me of Dennis with his voice, but he was trying so hard to seem like the stereotypic version of what “old grisly experienced pastors” should sound like. i didn’t think he should, his sermon was very beautiful. People stood if he said something enlightening like “he made us!!!”, people stood when he jumped and scram on stage, people stood and jumped and danced around when he raised his hands up high, looked untoward the heavens and scram out god’s name.
This culture was very expressive. Who knew?! Because all throughout my stay in LoO I’ve thought of that culture to be quite timid, very little to say, unpredictable and the guys I’ve met thus far in UW have shown me how naive and shady they can be. But this church was an expression of their faith, a true personification of what the real african american stand for: Praising God/Gospel
The sermon was about perseverance and never looking at challenges of life as a failure but a way in which God tests us. He’ll pick us up and he’ll always be there for us. Things may not be going right for us, but God wants to see if you’ll praise him when times get hardest, if you’ll love him and believe he can change your fate even at the worst times. I never believed that, I couldn’t open up. i found myself in a room full of Christians who were all supplicating themselves to God/faith for the sake of a better life and I broke down. Standing for controlling myself, accepting help from a higher power has always been my unconscious reluctance. I’ve never wanted to just accept that I can do it with God by my side. This guy(apart from the monkey jumping and sweating) knew his stuff.
Yesterday night, in my room, I cried like a baby, because I felt alone and misunderstood in more ways than one by the society at UW. I couldn’t say “let God handle it” because I was scared of loosing control. I feel like I am psyching myself up because I alone can handle myself..or something of the sort..
God’s light, his voice spoke to me through them and I cried tears of remorse…why was i resisting his love? his faith? his guidance? I believe in him I should believe he can give me strength that he has a better plan for me..I should…I cried and whispered that I will in that large noisy room.
After the crying and singing, we prayed, gave our offering. The Reverend needed men who were willing to be deacons so about 25 men ascended up the alter to put down their names, more crowd whooping and singing and dancing. The church is so wealthy that they offer free meals to their parishioners after mass, I had chicken and some other stuff(food was good). The african americans piled their plates like we were about to attack a blizzard and three mountains after(it was quite amusing). As I sat there picking at my food and eating it a man sat down next to us on the table and said to me “so i bet your mum’s gonna have to start sending you food from Africa since you eat different food than us huh?”…who sad you can’t kill people after church? on a sunday?
Most of the conversation that went on on the table was much of what I’d already evaluated about African americans thus far, they are a group of close knit people who usually prefer to share their thoughts with hispanics. White people are stupid to them and super beneath them and there is a certain degree of naivety for those that are actually from African countries.
Maybe I’ve generalized way too much but the conversation was less inclusive as it was exclusive. I continued to eat my food quietly and pay less attention to the fact that I didn’t know how to get in with these people! even if i went to church next week and 3 years consecutively every weekend, it wouldn’t change the fact that my accent is different than theirs and I don’t know how to converse like them. One woman even told the rest about me that she doesnt like the way my “eyes drill in to hers, she’s scared of me”
The First Cathedral Episcopalian Baptist Church, hallelujah! introducing the society that has two faces and not more than 1 conclusion: Baptist religion, African American People.