And the band played on

I was watching the marching band at the school down the street practise on the field, and they were just appalling – a smoking-trainwreck version of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow,’ or whatever the song is called – and the old guy who takes care of the equipment was standing beside me watching and he said, ‘Ah, the young angels. You know the secret of marching bands, don’t you?’ I said I didn’t and he said, ‘It’s simple. Even if half of the students are playing random musical notes, it still sounds like they’re a coordinated band.’ And that’s kind of how I feel about organized anything, including religion.”

Douglas Coupland on religion. It is so blindingly obvious I wonder why I never noticed it before. Why the music they play is always so noisy, why there are so many drums and loud brass instruments that always sound a bit off-key. I’ve always hated band music (no offence to all the people in bands). Orchestral music requires so much more technique to play. Part of my aversion to band music is also due to the band members in RGS who always behaved like they had no time for regular school work or to contribute to projects because they have this monolithic CCA called “The Band” which is much more important than all the other activities that the rest of us mortals participated in. Most band members in my class did squat for project work and acted like they deserved to do nothing and get the same grade. And they sounded just terrible at the end of all their hard work! Noisy, garish booming from everybody, everything at forte, fortissimo, all the time. Tinny and cheap, like the music from a broken down carousel at a summer fair.
This is not part of the three excerpts I was going to quote from Barrel Fever, but from Player One.

“Do you think you’ll miss being a preacher?”
“A pastor? No, I doubt it. I’m tired of people believing the first thing that passes by their eardrums. I’m tired of the way we’re all hard-wired to believe lies.”
“Churches are a lie?”
“There are thousands of them. Some of them have to be wrong. ”
“One of the doctors in my office made an observation. He was Irish and super-Catholic. He said that if there were two Catholics left on earth, one of them would have to be Pope.”

Just to highlight the massive arbitrariness that is in organized religion. And as a church-goer I know for a fact that what he says is true, you know. Many people at church believe the first thing that passes by their eardrums. Many people at church are there because they believe the first thing that passes by their eardrums that is spoken by a pastor. What put that pastor in authority? Certainly not a democratic vote. But the pastor’s own desire to preach. Wherefore the desire to preach? Given that 92% of all congregations are led by males, I can hazard a few guesses:
– The pastor likes hearing his own voice
– The pastor likes teaching people things, regardless of whether or not he is an expert on those things.
– The pastor thinks he knows better than everyone else out there (This could be true sometimes)
– The pastor actually cares about the children of God.

At my first baptism class a few weeks ago one of the younger girls getting baptised (~17 years old) asked a question. One of the adult attendees of the class tried to answer her. After waiting for him to finish, my pastor interjected to volunteer a comment. The adult attendee then immediately deferred to the pastor, who is younger than he is, saying that “but don’t listen to me, the pastor’s answer is the correct one.” -_- Good gracious. Just because of his office? I vetted the pastor’s master’s thesis (back when he was still in seminary) and the sheer incoherence in the structure of the essay was baffling. (The pastor’s answer was in fact, correct, but that is not the crux of this exchange.)



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