The service I joined was a dress-rehearsal of sorts for the 20th. The pastors performed all the parts that will be happening then, both as practice, and for themselves at that moment. There were songs, prayers, readings, and a meditation, ending with the sacrament of the eucharist (which will be left out in the public service). An Oregonian reporter had also been invited, but he did not show up. There were two of us there to experience it for portland indymedia, and we were the only outsiders; that was a big honor and I thank Pastor Gabrielle Chavez of Christ the Healer UCC for inviting us. |
I could describe the ceremony blow-by-blow but I wouldn't be able to give you a full sense of what it was like. As a religious ceremony, much of the power was in the mood and feeling that was created among the participants; that is, it was tangible, but not in a way that is easily objectified into language, especially the language of our current culture, which lacks a commonly understood and meaningful vocabulary for such things. The modern consciousness is entrenched in literal interpretations of reality; metaphorical comprehension is discouraged as it is centered on meaning rather than measurement. Capitalism thrives in this cold environment -- indeed, would fail in a warmer one. I cannot stress too much this connection I see between the profit motive and so-called scientific reasoning. Subjective vision finds breathing life in trees while an objective one identifies lumber.
By participating in this service, I entered another world, existing within and without the one I biked through to get there. Though it was a world of ideas, it was more so a world of feeling. The emotive superceded the cognitive in a way that revealed the stunted limitations of the latter. In a time when the pall of fascism is descending so rapidly, this service provided a light. Not a light at the end of the tunnel -- a light made by joining in intimate connection with others the lights within all of us. The pastors also called up the light that they call "God", "Jesus", or "Christ", into which we were all to gather, and that's where my only difference with them emerged, but it was purely a semantic difference. When I hear those words, I just substitute them with "love" or "life". Doing so gives the meanings they have a much more universal meaning for me, and strips them of an anthropomorphism that I find trivializing. That is, I reject the literal denotation of the words "God", etc., and embrace their metaphorical conotations. Other people who are not Christian but believe in the spiritual aspect of existence might find a similar exercise helpful for them when they attend the public exorcism on the 20th.
But back to that light that shone in the service, in contrast to the gathering darkness of war and oppression in the world: I would call the light hope, describe it as strong, and recommend it as the best way to get through these times in one piece. The Reverend Kris Voss-Rothmeier of the Milwaukie Presbyterian Church led us through a prayer of deliverance that sought to release us from fear, greed, deception, retaliation, separation, self-righteousness, arrogance and coercion in favor of love, generosity, honesty, patience, unity, self-understanding, humility, and mutual respect (to name just some of the pairs). Everyone was invited to offer their own set and the group would say the lines of the prayer together with the new words. The first set of attributes are products of darkness, and the second are of light. The life of that light in the service was real, something I could feel, and I carried it with me outside, back on the bike ride home.
It was like a passage from the Bible that one of the pastors read. I replace "God" in this passage with "Love" and "the devil" with "hate".
Put on the whole armor of Love, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of hate.It was a great feeling, riding home with that armor and reflecting on the struggle against tyranny that we are waging in the world right now. I believe that love will prevail.
For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world's rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
(Ephesians, 6: 11-12)
So again, I encourage everyone to come to the social exorcism on Wednesday the 20th at 11:00 am in Terry Schrunk Plaza, regardless of your spiritual beliefs, and even if you are an athiest. This will be a colorful, creative and legitimately radical anti-war action and an opportunity to build ties with other people who are arrayed against the powers-that-be. We all need as many allies as we can find, and it would be silly for us to reject people just because they call themselves "Christian". As I found out today, I have a lot I can learn -- and more importantly, feel -- from Christians that can help me personally in my fight for justice. I doubt if I am the only one who would so benefit.