I spent most of last night at a bar in Scranton watching my future sister-in-law and the rest of the band she's in along with some other bands playing. I thought considering I knew full well I'd stand out like a sore thumb I thought I'd live up to the peculiar people title of 1 Peter 2:9 and go the full hog by wearing a shirt and tie, and carry my Bible around with me. I was also able to sample some of Scranton's finest filtered tap water while I was there.
Being in a bar brought back memories of going to pubs and nightclubs in my university days. They are dark, incredibly loud, uncomfortably hot, and full of intoxicated young adults. I remember my old friend Ali commenting about incredibly sinful these places are, while we were in a nightclub, and I wondered what on earth he meant, considering I didn't consider alcohol to be sinful back then. It was clear to me last night that it is. Not because of the corrupt behaviour that it creates but because it deceptively mimics the fellowship that we enjoy as born again believers. I speculated on the nature of the place as I sat watching these musicians dancing around with so much enthusiasm that I was concerned I was going to mistake them for Pentecostal worshipers.
One of the bands had merchandise that clearly had pornography with Satanic symbolism on it. It made me consider if these musicians were in fact in some sort of Satanists. But this wasn't the Church of Satan that I was enticed by in the past.
There was no drinking of blood. There was no casting spells. There were no black candles.
While there is clearly a glorification of satanic worship this wasn't that. These were merely devices to try to incite shock, and fortunately for me they didn’t.
This was more a Church of Alcohol.
And it is clear to me that they are entirely complicit in that. Intoxication meant being filled by spirits instead of the Holy Spirit. The effect is temporary and short lived. It's the exact opposite of the church I went to and joined today. Everything about it is designed to desensitise. Darkness, alcohol, loud music, a hot sticky atmosphere.
Anything possible to desperately take away from the reality of a world full of pain and suffering and separation.
While I contemplated this doctrine of darkness and how born again Christians are comforted by the Holy Spirit in a similar way I noticed one of the patrons was consuming an alcoholic beverage called "Free Will" and given my theological thought process I suddenly burst out laughing, which was luckily drowned out by the loud music. That was the only time anyone really took any notice of me.
The music itself was entertaining, and there is clearly a lot of musical talent in their performances. However I think if I'd have understood most of the lyrics I might not have found it quite as entertaining. Although I was entertained more than I should be by the performance of a song called "That's what Jesus said". In the brief conversations I had with the patrons outside they seemed agreeable, although it was awkward because I am so very different these days.
Two things occurred to me. The first being that I would like to be able to experience some involvement in the street pastor program, a program where groups of Christians go around helping intoxicated people get home after leaving bars by giving them water, helping them up if they're being sick in the street and giving them the gospel. The second is, would the church I'm now a member of be quite as inviting to someone if the roles were reversed and one of them, in that condition, tried to attend one of our performances in the same vein. I'm inclined to think we wouldn't, at least universally, despite the command for us to show love to everyone by Jesus Christ.
I wonder if I'm being judgmental. And if my thought processes are offensive. I don't think I am, I'm just explaining my understanding of the perception I have of the reality I see around me. I’m also aware of how I may well be rebuked for even attending such an event, due to the dangers of the enticement of sin and that I am somehow endorsing such activities. However I’m pretty aware of what enticements I seem to fall victim to, so there are some groups of sinners I really should keep away from, especially if they’re carrying alabaster boxes.