open mic day
October 13, 2008
Once a month at church we have “Open Mic” day. Well, we don’t call it open mic day, we call it “Testimony Meeting” but we really should call it “Open Mic” day. On these days, anybody can go to the pulpit and bear “testimony.” Usually you get people talking about how they prayed and found lost keys, lost rabbits, lost kids, lost money. Sometimes you get people talking about lost and found souls, although that’s not as common. You get a lot of affirmation and a lot of boring. And occasionally you get profound feeling and message, which is, I guess, the point.
But sometimes, sometimes you get CRAZY. I mean, what do you expect in a religious environment where you have people who believe in supernatural intervention in our everyday lives? You have to take the good with the bad, right? Part and parcel.
Most religious people are totally normal, everyday folks. I bet even most Scientologists (not the celebrity kind) are mostly normal folks. But religion, like politics, by its nature attracts people who are, well, EARNEST.
See? Religion and politics.
So yesterday was open mic day at church. The mic is open for about 40 minutes, and most people are expected to take less than 5. Some go much shorter, and some go much longer. Politics are mostly a taboo topic, and people mostly respect that. But politics are only half of the “Religion and Politics” dynamic duo. You would expect people at open mic day at a church to discuss religion, right?
Yesterday, about 9:55am, with the mic scheduled to no longer be “open” at 10:10am, a woman sitting near the front stood up and started to make her way toward the podium. I was sitting sort of middle back with my family, and as soon as this woman stood up and started walking toward the stand, I leaned forward and whispered to Sam and Holly “CRAZY PERSON ALERT. PAY ATTENTION.” I didn’t shout it like those all caps indicate, but I did whisper earnestly.
Sometimes you just know. She was short, had wild white hair, deathly pale skin, and looked a bit like a character from a Harry Potter movie. And she wasn’t from our local congregation. It’s unusual for visitors to take up open mic time, and when they do, the potential for crazy goes WAY up.
She started out innocently enough, and anybody paying attention probably relaxed quickly, since she seemed like she would just travelogue us (yup, I used travelogue as a transitive verb) and move on.
After a few minutes of addle-brained ambling, she got focused. “We should love EVERYBODY.” (Of course, as I explained to my kids later, who can argue with that? That’s good advice for anybody.)
Turns out her family had a new addition to the family, and turns out, that baby was “African.” Meaning Black, I guess, though she didn’t say that. But she did say that having an “African” grandson caused her to face a multitude of prejudices she had always held (although, I can think of only one, really, in this case, that applies). BIGOT ALERT! You could see people around the room start to fidget, and the presiding authority on the stand start to tense up in a most uncomfortable way (since, if she got out of control crazy–a rare but possible scenario–it would be HIS job to stop her without causing a bigger scene than we were already experiencing).
But LO! Apparently she had been prepared for the coming of this “African” baby into her family because her life heretofore had been populated with OTHER types of people she hated. A Latino son in law. And a Gay son. And a Democrat. (Okay, I made that last one up. But nobody would have batted an eye if she had added that.)
And so she finished her 15 minute harangue by concluding neatly that we should love everybody, including the Africans, the Latinos, and especially the GAYS AND LESBIANS (a phrase repeated maybe 10 times). Because they’re ALL AROUND US, those GAYS AND LESBIANS. You might as well get used to it. And love them. I used to hate them, but now I love them. (Um, I’m paraphrasing here.)
And really, the takeaway was great–love everybody, even if you didn’t used to. That’s something I can get my arms around, so that I can tell the kids, “See, even crazy people are worth listening to, eventually. Maybe ESPECIALLY crazy people.”
I love open mic day.