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Monday, February 08, 2010

Church of Rock

Nov 15/09

No, the title in the subject line isn´t "Church of the Rock". I´m not trying to make any Christian connotations here. By the word "rock", I mean "rock and roll". There is a movie called "School of Rock" and it is about this guy who turns all the classes in this school into lessons on rock and roll. Well, as of last nite it appears that I am attending a church who loves rock and roll music. Let me explain...

The church is holding a free rock concert on Dec 5th right in the middle of Plaza del Congreso. The event is called Rock & Vida and it is also a concert to bring awareness to the AIDS epidemic and it is part of our fight against it. Last night there was a huge party in church to promote the event. What I will tell you is that I have been to church and church events my whole life and never seen anything like it. Again, it broke every stereotype of people´s idea of a church event.

The event started at 10 last nite and the entry cost 25 pesos. And I can tell you right now that the price was every bit worth it. The event was located in the church´s main building that is located just outside the main city. It is the building I described earlier in another email as being very basic, like a warehouse with the walls and floors being made of concrete.

It was like having an event in an old warehouse or a gym but one that has a stage. There was some games set up for kids and there were some decorations in place. There were also some stations where you could by juice, pop, or water all night long. Above us, someone had set up one of those spinning disco balls and there were colored lights and music and music videos playing on a screen above. The ambiance actually was more similar to a night club or a bar. But I had no idea what I treat I was in for.

I knew I was in for something special when all of a sudden, some girls who were cooking in the kitchen would come out every so often with plates of empanadas, mini pizzas and all kinds of treats. They would walk around the crowd and offer them while people were mingling. There was a guy and girl who were MCs who were overseeing the entertainment that would be going on all nite long.

It was a blast. It was beyond a blast actually! This church actually knows how to have a good time and they really like rock music. Maybe it´s because our pastor is a musician himself and is a fan of many of the groups that have shaped American pop culture such as the beatles. The entertainment began when someone turned on music from the 70's such as the Bee Gees "Staying Alive" while some guys danced in front of the whole crowd to that music.

Later that night there were some musicians that got up on stage and began to play. It looks like it´s 3 or 4 guys who all play bass and electric guitars and they did a jam and it was awesome. These guys were definitely very professional and very well versed in their instruments. Before the jam, each one of them did one those things where they make really hot noises and sounds with all the cords on their electric guitars. Then when they all jammed together, what can I say? It was one hot rock concert they were giving!

The type of music they were playing and they level of professionalism that they had is easily the kind of music that you find in a club or a bar. When it is friday nite, you want something to do and you hear that there is a gig in town. Or there is a hot club where you and your friends want to go for drinks and as you settle in, there is a band playing on stage.

More shows of talent that nite was when a girl got up and sang. She was dressed quite "Burlesque" from the era where I think they had "flappers" She sang some songs from that time period and it had a real broadway sound to it. It didn´t take a genius to hear that this girl is very far advanced as a singer. Her level is one that you expect to hear when you buy tickets to see a broadway show.

There were more acts and more fun that night. The MC´s had the crowd dancing to "Rock Around the Clock". Some musicians got up who I have seen do the church music for the services. They actually did a live version of the "Staying Alive" and it was awesome. As you can tell by now, the theme of that night was rock and roll. By the time the event was one, it was 2:30 in the morning.

Everytime I discover something about this church, I grow to love it more. The thing that I love most is that that this church has not fallen into the trap of being in a box. When it times to be serious and pray, we do that. When we want to make a difference in our city, we dive in with our whole hearts into the mission. And when it is time to have fun, we really have SERIOUS FUN!!!!

I love it that these musicians can totally get up and do spiritual song stuff on a sunday and then play "Staying Alive" and embrace pop culture and there is no religiousity about it. They don´t feel that just because they've embraced a faith that now they are limited to a certain kind of music or a way of doing things. The church fosters and encourages people in their craft and to do really well. I have never been in a church that are big fans of rock and roll music and pop culture.

Another thing that I am loving is that this congregation is making itself relevant to the people, and the city and the times. They are actively involved in the city and working tirelessly to bring hope and solutions to the people of Buenos Aires and the people of Argentina. Social work and social responsibility are part of the fibres that make up the church.

They don´t just sit in a building on Sundays with a fake smile, talking about how wonderful life is and how horrible those people who don´t go to church are while ignoring the pain and suffering that is going on in society. Or when confronted with people´s pain, they don´t stand on a soapbox and preach to others and throw Bible verses at them.

No, CCNV is a church that loves to get it´s hands dirty and make itself relevant to the people and the times. And it should be no surprise to anyone that I ended up in a church like that. People who know me, know that I am deeply spiritual. I am also a philantrophist who wants to use my life to make a difference. I am also someone who enjoys life and people and this playground called earth.

The laws of attraction dictate that we attract the things that are like us. All my friends know that one minute I could be in church or having a great spiritual experience, and then the next minute when that is done, I might get a call from a friend asking me if I want to hang out and have a drink (or maybe half a dozen drinks......let´s not talk about that) and I´d be like "Sure!!!!!!!" I am not in a box and it should be no surprise (keeping the laws of attraction in mind) that I ended up in congregation that has a similar mindset.

One of the greatest revelations I ever had as a person while back in Canada is that spirituality and philantrophy are tied together. If we claim that we've had some kind of great experience, encounter, or enlightenment, the greatest evidence of that is that our hearts should expand to want to reach out beyond ourselves and touch others. Because the very nature of love is that it goes beyond itself and ventures outward.

I will never understand people who spend all their time in church or people who seek spirituality and read lots of books and spend lots of time in meditation or at conferences and when I speak with them, they have no care for the world outside of them. If the basis of all belief systems is love, then logically the more time I spend with "God" or some higher being (whatever you want to call it), then the more I should feel love and a desire to expand beyond my world.

The relationship between rock and roll, spirituality and philantrophy is very interesting. We aren´t the only people that for us, rock and roll and social responsibilty are related. Bono, the lead singer of U2 has been campaigning for years and has been deeply involved in the area of fighting AIDS. When I got up this morning, got out a little book I had bought in Canada. It is called "on the move" and it has Bono´s speech at a prayer breakfast accompanied by photos of his first ever trip to Africa.

I know that this man has been criticized and accused of different things when it comes to his motivation for his involvement in the fight against AIDS. But reading that speech inspired me and there is no doubt in my heart that this man´s heart is in the right place. What should society prefer that he do? Sit around with his millions of dollars and talk about his luxurious lifestyle? After all, thats all a rock star is supposed to do right? Looks like Bono decided a long time ago to burn the box that society would try to put him in.

And because of that, millions in Africa will have a chance at a future :)

Amorous Alpacas

Amorous Alpacas