Monday, May 14, 2007

I Went to Church

"...the services ended when Pastor Joy went away while we were packing up our inflatable church."

Nickson, in his blog

A few years ago, I read about 'inflatable churches/chapels' from a back issue of Reader's Digest. This is how one looks like;

Insta-church! Just add water air!

I remember thinking to myself that if any religious extremist cell wants to interrupt a worship session to God, they don't need a bomb or a portable missile launcher. All they need is a needle (and lots of free time in between capathis)

When I spot the phrase 'inflatable church' in Nick's blog, I immediately asked to attend the next service his congregation is having. Admittedly, my mind was no where near God at all1.

I was sorely disappointed when I discovered that 'inflatable' wasn't meant by its most literal sense. Apparently, Nick and his friends have to pack and unpack their equipments - drum set, amps, microphones and other assorted Sunday stuff (I suppose the white screen and projector belongs to the Nursing College?) every time they hold their worship because they don't have a permanent fixture in which to do so.

Admirable faith and spirit, I must say.

A couple of post later in Nick's blog, I discovered that that Sunday on which I wanted to attend his congregation (to see the metaphorical inflatable church), their pastor would be away and Nick himself would be delivering a sermon in his place. I was curious about what they really do in these worship sessions (plus, it's been practically a decade since I've attended one) and I was also interested in listening to Nick preaching.

So I decided to go.

Nick, before the service starts.

All of us started by playing a game called 'Hunter, Fire, Earthquake'2 which I didn't quite get. Then, the church band broke out the instruments and we all participated in a hymnody of a few a really catchy Christian songs (or are they called hymns?). I have always heard sentiments about how people can sing at the top of their voices in church without any embarrassment of their own voices - and I finally understood that sentiment when I stood there amongst all these happy singing people. Everyone was enraptured in a truly private moment despite being in the midst of a roomful of people. You can practically read 'ecstasy' on their faces. There were tears - and a whole lot of joy.

Wait, you guys know that I'm not part of God's flock right?

Just checking.

Nick, the Short and Sweet.

Next up was a light-hearted sermon delivered by the always cheery Nickson *claps* on the subject of "The Promised Land", and on faith and obedience to God. Then Lester the Senior took to the pulpit and spoke about "The Fear of God" which I found pretty illuminating. The last preacher was some guy I have never met before and he gave a simple talk on "Jesus, My Best Friend". My only gripe was that I left my copy of the Bible in Malaysia3 so Samuel had to suffer my sharing his.

The service then ended with a bit more singing.

What really struck me was how much Seck Kia Eenh, the Buddhist temple in Malacca which I went to for the holiday camps and stuff, copied the Christian services. All the hymnodies, the 'temple band', and the Dhamma School plus chants on Sundays - all those adds up to more than just coincidence, won't you agree?

Oh well, whatever works right?

I'm pret-ty sure that this is not what Sid Gautama had in mind when he founded Buddhism.

I have stopped attending Seck Kia Eenh the moment I knew how much they have spent on that stainless steel monstrosity of a Wesak Day float which they would use only once a year to bring Buddha's statue for a joyride around town. Forgive me Brothers and Sisters in the Dhamma, but that's not Buddhism - at least not in my book. Aren't extravagance and fancy rituals precisely the stuff Buddhists should reject?

Also, the elders always talk of the non-Buddhists' misconception that we worship idols. It always makes me wonder why they, in all their infinite wisdom, cannot see that they themselves are perpetuating that image? *Pffft*

Oh, anyway I went to church with the purpose of learning in my mind. I remember a certain enlightened man from India who lived half a millennium BC once told us to carve our own paths to enlightenment, and to listen to wisdom wherever we think we can find it. Ignorance of others' faith and beliefs is always dangerous.

Wisdom, on the other hand, is always good.



P.S. Here's a shout-out to Nickson and company for having me. Thanks!

Yours in the Dhamma,
k0k s3n w4i

1 I actually had a mental image of one those massive kiddie bouncing floats filled with colourful plastic balls.
2 For anyone who's interested in learning a game with such a cool name, it's basically like this; two persons will hold hands, pretending to be a tree, making a loop around a third person, who's pretending to be a bird. When 'hunter' is shouted, the 'bird' have to leave the 'tree' and fly to another. When 'fire' is hollered, the 'birds' stay put while the 'trees' will form new trees around different 'birds'. In the event of an 'earthquake', 'birds' will fly and new 'trees' will grow. Now you see why I don't get it, right?
3 Yes, I own one. Let me know if any of you know where I can get an English edition of the Al-Quran, okay?


fuolornis said...

Tha's me on the left on the third picture. Why din u tell me to pose when ur taking that picture?

innshan said...

I agree with u k0k, i reject those rituals too! In Buddhism, many practices which has profound meanings had been turned into rituals as there is no understanding.
There are many stories on this.

try read this post. :P

niCk said...

yo! thanks for coming wey!
and the LCD projector is ours. we're not using the one hanging up there.
it was given by someone anonymous.
will be having our own building soon above the Reebok shop. by then, we'll have to bid those unpacking and packing farewell.

michellesy the amused said...

1. No, I don't think that was what ole Sid' had in mind at all *shakes head sadly*

2. Awwwww c'mon, just between (virtual) friends, won't you admit it, won't you? =D
You had quite another *cough* image *cough* in mind when you pictured an inflatable castle didn't you *winks*
Don't make me say it out loud now =P

3. Nope, don't understand the game either. Even after I read the description twice. Or it could just be that I'm challenged that way XD

k0k s3n w4i said...

How many pictures in this blog is posed for? Haha. Besides, I scared Nickson say I distract his congregation from listening to him.

I read that one already, haha. Rituals I can stand - the lines between practicality and traditions is often blurred there. But extravagance; that's practically mocking Buddha.

Eh, why thank me pula?
Good luck with your new place. The Reebok shop is at the Trade Centaur building right?

@an amused michellesy
Err... yeah... Great minds think alike... err... and all that jazz *winks at Michellesy hesitantly, totally clueless at what she's shooting at
I guess that's just an ice-breaker sort of thing, that game. It's one of those where there's no winners and stuff.

michellesy the typing klutz said...

ROTFL - I mean as in you know, certain parts of the female more than others when jumping on the jumping castle. You know what I mean.

And btw, a totally random observation - I've managed to mistype the 'j' in jumping. And replaced it with 'h'. Twice.

Argh - completely inappropriate 0_O

mystique said...

somewhere out there, someone out there, in a land far far away , has said a prayer for you, dude!

k0k s3n w4i said...

Only the luckier ones have jiggly enough specimens of the said part. XD

'h' for 'j'? that's a rather classic case of Freudian slip you got there. Suddenly, psychoanalysis became rather obvious to me.

someone here says thanks to that kind person that have thought of him in his/her prayers.