That’s the bus. That’s the only picture that I’m including of the bus, although I did get a couple of others that I sort of liked. Because as tacky and awful as that fucker is, it’s not the point. It points to the point, but it’s not the point.
Okay, lemme back up a second here. There’s this bus making a trek across America (Murrca!) encouraging people to pray for America in a pretty blatantly political, Dominionist-y kind of way. We heard about it here. A couple of us decided to crash the party. One of us (not me, I suck at those things) is hassling them online and in email for the way the article was written (as though everyone in Omaha is presumed to be Christian, and not just that, but the sort of Christian that thinks Separation of Church & State is A Very Bad Thing). And in a blog post, which I shall link here as soon as I have it. You’ll love his blog posts. THEY ARE AWESOMESAUCE. Plus, the title of his blog. I mean, come on: All These Pious People. How good is that? At any rate, this is a little photo essay of the experience. (You’ll have to pardon me on not getting correct the finer details, whatever the fuck they are, of photo essay-ing. This is my first go at just quite this sort of blogging/essaying/photoing.)
Why they actually put the outdoor canopy up in the middle of the indoor facility is not actually that baffling. It just makes the fact that it’s pure propaganda that much more blatant.
A predictably old white dude who was just as predictably trying to preach to the kids while not excluding the adults (who were all predictably in the very front and very eager beaver, while the kids were in the back and… not so much?
Okay, I'm gonna stop with the DA BEARS references. Shit, I'm not even from Chicago.
I think we managed to get so close and personal because they took us for some sort of journalists. Which, I suppose, we are. (Not that we actually talked to any of them, except for the one lady who commented on my shirt [a Kaylie/Morton Salt mashup which I absolutely love] saying, “That’s an appropriate shirt for today,” and then I think I actually said, under my breath of course, “You… don’t know what it is, then.” It also turned out that I’d completely missed her meaning though [it was raining cats and dogs outside, and Kaylie's holding that umbrella - you know the one] so I guess turnabout is fairplay.)
There weren’t actually all that many people there, I thought. At least not for something that’s supposed to be this big national tour thing. I may have just had inflated expectations.
The age range you see represented here in these two pictures was pretty much it, whichmay have been a quirk. But I doubt it. These kids were fucking bused in from wherever. Already creepy, right? At any rate, there were the teens, and then the over 50 crowd with very very little in between. In fact, the little Latina making googoo eyes at the pastor on the far right of the second of these was pretty nearly the only representative of any other age range, near as I could tell. Not that I’m the best subjective judge of ages, I guess, but you get the point, right?
A couple that are, I’m presuming, on staff. I included this one because something about the tilt of her head, her posture, and her clasp on her husbands arm speaks volumes to me.
This one is here for two reasons, both are very very serious. I found the backrub that the one girl was giving the other girl through the whole fucking thing slightly… odd, given the prayerful, preacherful, evangelical context, and a little amusing. Now, I know that there may have been absolutely no erotic undertones whatsoever, and the other girl may have just needed some knots worked out after volleyball practice or whatever. But then again, teenagers. Hormones. Raging.
The other reason is that the look on the middle girls face at just that moment said something to me. Actually, it’s one of the few of these that I really thought the lighting worked for me for just a second, too. This kind of gymnasium flourescent indoor lighting is my fucking worst enemy. (Well, almost, anyway.) I hates it. Aaand that’s as far down the photo-geekery rabbit hole as I’m gonna let myself go for the moment. I do have to warn you, though. That’s gonna happen from time to time. Because I love photo-ing. So, nyeah.
So after doing some preaching, and trying to get the adults not to answer the question of what the kids were struggling with (when he finally got a kid to answer [the back-messaging girl from above], the answer was, “they’re disrespectful.” What? Really? That’s your biggest fucking struggle in life? Of course, it was immediately re-couched in the appropriately biblical “honor thy mother & father” terms), preacher man invited all of the other preachers up (a good 1/2 or more of the non-bus-riding adults present) and began praying over them, for strength against persecution, strength to stand up to the sinful ways of godless ‘murica, etc, etc. There was the typical laying on of hands, the raising of hands, the tight closing of eyes, the nodding of heads, and even the low-voiced glossolalia that they call “speaking in tongues.”
Then, for the culminating event, the real brainwashing power of which I hope to leave to the photos and my cahort’s description (because it just creeps me the fuck out thinking about it), he invited the kids out. To hold up their arms, to pray for the pastors, to give the pastors strength. Woah.
And yet, the stances of some of those people read discomfort. Maybe some of the same discomfort I felt as an awkward kid when people were doing this shit, and I wanted to believe, I wanted to be in the ingroup, I wanted to be able to pray like that, I became that, dove deep inside and refused to acknowledge the fourth wall of my brain that was SCREAMING WITH WHAT THE FUCK. (Remind me to tell you about the time my best friend & I went to a YWAM Conference Thingy when I was around sixteen or so & I figured out the Speaking In Tongues Is Bullshit.)
Here was the tongue talker walker whisperer. I swear I’ve seen this guy before.
Afterwards, they broke into smaller groups. The bus’ preacher man invited anyone who was troubled and needed specific prayer to come up to the front, vaguely under the tentish, along with some of the other preacher peoples. And the general intensity dissolved, sort of, or devolved into some people being released from the tension while other were gathered up more intensely into the smaller little prayer huddles of mostly twos, but one very intense little circle of five or six.
This adorable, timid woman was hesitant to interrupt the two people praying just a couple of feet away, but really wanted to listen and to help them pray. So this is the, “I’m praying with you, but not intruding,” stance. Then again, maybe some part of her wasn’t really so timid, because I’m pretty sure that this is her purse, too.
And then this. The quality of the image came out for shit because I’d just switched lenses to try to get a wider shot, and my little 18-55 doesn’t do that well in low light, but then we saw this. It had to be shot. So regardless of the graininess and what-not, I still think this is a telling, compelling image. A pretty decent summary and closing line.