Sunday, October 10, 2004

Tossing Ourselves to Lions

This Sunday afternoon my wife and I went to the C-FAM “Mayday for Marriage” rally at the Spokane Arena, mainly because the pastor at the church which I am currently attending was one of the speakers on the platform. Now "C-FAM" stands for Coalition For Authenic Marriage, and it is a group supporting a defense of marriage amendment to the Washington state constitution. The program sheet that was passed out listed about 140 local groups and churches sponsoring the event. The attendance in the arena was, by my estimate, between 4000 to 4500 people. Of course, there were demonstrators outside the parking lot protesting the event, under the watchful eye of about a half dozen or so Spokane police officers. I estimate that there was between 50 to a 100 demonstrators protesting the event as supposedly bigoted and hate mongering. Of course, the local network news channel aired interviews with the demonstrators but nothing from anyone actually attending the event inside.

I suspect, from what some of their placards said, that the demonstrators probably thought the speakers in the Arena were haranguing the audience with sulfurous speeches about how evil and bad the demonstrators were. Nothing could be further from the truth. Actually, there was plenty of contemporary xtian music, of a decidedly pentecostal style, by a very talented ensemble, and there was even a little "dancing in the aisles," so to speak, in front of the stage by some of the younger people in the audience. In my opinion, there might have been a little too much music, since it cut much into time spent on the speakers.

What was somewhat surprising to me was that the speakers spent most of their time talking about the need for repentance and for more prayer and faith in our churches. In fact, one of the most important points, which I took away from the event, seemed to be that we xtians are the ones mostly responsible for the complete moral and spiritual mess our country is currently in — that it's really all our fault because we weren't on the ball enough. We lacked faith, and we didn't pray hard enough, and we watched way too much of the garbage spewing from our cable networks.

So, I am sorry to disappoint the demonstrators, but if they were expecting that firey homilies were being preached inside, depicting the sufferings of the dammed in Hell, well, nope, it didn't happen. Instead, we xtians were mostly throwing ourselves to the lions in the Arena, to put it in highly exaggerated terms.

At one point, one preacher had us joining hands in a group prayer, confessing how generally screwed up we really are, and that we are the ones mostly to blame for the whole degenerate mess. Of course, there was more to it than just this, but I am being brief here. Finally, I should mention, the pastor of the church I was attending, a fine man, an ex-wrestler turned preacher, did speak for a short time, and he was the only one, as I recall, who even mentioned anything about the demonstrators outside, reminding the audience that, while the demonstrators were definitely mistaken in their thinking, we were not to consider them our enemies, and that we are always to be charitable and patient in how we conduct ourselves.

The political aspect of the matter was rather subdued. I stayed long enough to listen to Kristen Waggoner, an attorney, talk about the legal issues as they stood in Washington at this time (she was not optimistic) but I had to be going. Technically speaking, I live in Land-In-Between, and therefore I have no vote in how Washingtonians deal with the matter in their state. Easterners in Washington tend to be more conservative, but the west coast is bluer than blue, and it's the part that has the bulk of the population of the state.

However, the high point of my departure, as my wife and I drove out of the parking lot past the demonstrators, was that a giddy young lady, probably gawking at the demonstrators, ran her red light and very nearly rammed her car into ours as we were making a right turn on our green light. Thankfully, there was no meeting of the bumpers. My wife, who was driving, rolled down her window, and loudly told the lady to back up, so we could complete our right turn — the lady had screeched to a halt just in front of us, burning rubber, and was now blocking our way. The demonstrators were probably amused at this spectacle, as they waved their rainbow flags, and their placards denouncing our horrible xtian bigotry and hate-mongering, and the placard wavers all seemed very nice, well behaved, and oh-so-tolerant, at least at the time we were leaving.

The one unusual thing I noticed, about the groups sponsoring the event, was the apparent lack of any participation by local Catholic organizations, even though the Catholic church has a strong, local presence in the Spokane area (e.g., Gonzaga University). As to why there was no Catholic participation, especially in a matter that, by my lights, should be of interest to Catholics, well, I have no explanation.