Blue moon cafe
Tonight, the big church at the end of my road is transformed into a jazz cafe. Blue spotlights shine from above. The atmosphere is cosy and best of all, smoke-free. A jazz band plays at the corner of the large hall. A lady sings. There is plenty of wine and soft drinks for all. Every table has snacks and finger food. The place is soon filled to the brim.
The combination of music, food, drink, atmosphere, and imagery in the form of slide shows is ever so powerful. The message of the evening is fulfillment, or rather, how to live a fulfilling life. The screen displays pictures of our daily lives as well as those of the hungry and poor in other parts of the world. Interweaved are quotations from famous people.
"Dying is easy. It's living that scares me to death," Annie Lennox.
"What you can see and touch will be here today, gone tomorrow. It's what you can't see that lasts forever."
Graham "Amadeus" Hepburn, a pianist and comedian, entertains us with his improvisations and interpretations. But the message he has is that of faith - believing in himself to get to where he is now.
I have only been to this church once or twice in the time I've lived here. I knew it's a special kind of church. The vicar is special. He is contemporary. He could be a marketing guru, a publicity officer, or a slick salesman. But he welcomes us to come and discuss life.
Yes, I've been thinking about life a lot lately. Why do I continue to do the same things and expect a different outcome? Why do I continue to be driven by sunk cost?
I told Stephan, who invited me to tonight's show, that I had an overdose of Christianity when I was chief organist in Okinawa. Five sermons a week were enough to drive anyone mad. I just wanted to play the organ and the piano and get paid for it. I didn't want or need the guilt trip. He was very understanding. He had the same experience in the brass choir.
As I walked out of the church, I suddenly realised that it was a place for community-building. Once you're free of a full-time job, you lose the community you had built with your colleagues and place of work. When you move into a new neighbourhood, the fastest and easiest way to join an already-formed community is to go to church.
But wouldn't it be hypocritical if you didn't believe in the Christian God? Buddhism has no god. I didn't like the all-or-nothing approach of religion in the America I experienced. There are so many faiths, why should only one be the right one?
If every Sunday evening service could be a Blue Moon Cafe, where I can share a communion of music, food, and conversation with others who also want to talk about life, then I would be a regular guest. But don't ask me to read the bible.
13 January 2003 Monday
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