I'll be heading out in an hour or so to CALL, a retreat held by NCKPC (which I technically can't call "my church" since the last time I actually went to church was ... three years ago? I'll probably get back late Saturday night so I can be fresh when I have to tutor SAT on Sunday.

Warning: The following is not meant to be offensive to anybody at NCKPC or churches or retreats. I do find retreats spiritually fulfilling (or I have, not so sure I still do, we'll see), but these are merely observations I've made regarding retreats I've made over the years.

I really hate skits. With a total passion. I've not been to any other retreats, so I'm not sure if this is just an NCKPC thing, but what is this obsession with skits? Literally, you're put together in a big group of people you don't really know and told to create an open-ended skit based on the vague general concept of the retreat. Everybody mills around waiting for someone to assume the leadership role (since we're Asian) ... and two or three people always end up creating the basic concept for the skit. Except, whoops, the two hour allotment for skit creation is over. Guess we'll have to tap into our free time during the middle of the day to finish our skit. Now, admittedly, some of them come out quite funny, but generally they're mediocre. The worst part is when you have the last skit, so you're too busy practicing your own to really pay attention to anybody else's ... boo. So yeah, I hate skits. I even wrote "I'm allergic to skits" when I registered for the retreat, but I doubt that's going to help.

It would be a different story if this was on a volunteer basis, but everybody ... even those who are a bit too shy or don't like to do this type of stuff, are sorta forced into the role.

Again, I'm not sure if this is just how NCKPC does it, but I'm disliked the 'extended prayer' sequences on the second night of the retreats. For those of you who have not attended these retreats, let me breakdown the general format from the two (or 3?) CALL retreats I've been to:

  • Friday: drive people to retreat center. Have dinner, have praise and sermon. Sleep late. (Sleep deprivation level: 1)
  • Saturday morning: Wake people up at 7am for morning prayer and service. Praise is a little less enthusiastic, but some people give it their all. End of sermon and praise, have lunch/skit time (Sleep deprivation level: 2)
  • Saturday afternoon: Free time to run around, play sports, have fun until dinner. (Sleep deprivation level: 3)
  • Saturday dinner: Carb-heavy dinner. Food-coma is slightly induced, but the most intense praise/sermon time comes after dinner. This thing is long. I mean, REALLY long. And usually the skits are done here too, so not only are you exhausted from performing/laughing, but you haven't slept much at all (Sleep deprivation level: 4)
  • After the sermon is when the church usually gets the praise leader to come out (or the speaker) to play a slow guitar song and to pray ... this is the time they take to ask people to accept Jesus as their savior. Now, although your sleep deprivation level is at about "anytime I close my eyes I'm going to pass out), the combination of the dark lights, slow guitar playing, AND the fact that 100 or so people around you are praying (some a bit louder than others) can be very emotionally stirring.

I'm totally not sure if this is intentional, but I do feel that these types of situations lend themselves to people doing things they usually would not do. I've acted irrationally before in these situations and have regretted it - it's almost like you're caught in a river of religion and you're too tired to fight it. I don't like life decisions to be based upon spur-of-the-moment emotions, but rather a process of logic and reason which yields a decision with a clear path.

One of the last CALLs I went to, I simply left and sat outside during this time to reflect on the message and my faith. I couldn't deal with the level of ephemeral emotion in that room.

Maybe that's why I dislike going to church so much, but I still consider myself a man of faith. I just don't like the social pressures that a church entails; I've always felt that a spiritual relationship is a one-to-one thing; you have it with God, and that's it. I don't like externalities influencing that relationship, because on some level, I feel like it's tainting it.

Posted by roy on September 23, 2005 at 02:47 PM in Personal | 6 Comments

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Comment posted on September 26th, 2005 at 05:24 PM
your retarded.
Comment posted on September 25th, 2005 at 02:06 PM
you were pretty right on... :) hey, but i thought this year's skits weren't too bad. and i totally feel you on the emotions thing... i've been in an anti-emotion phase as well. :) i'm really glad you came though!!!
Comment posted on September 24th, 2005 at 06:30 PM
hahaha. based on my accounts, they ARE like that.
i must say we have very similar views regarding church.
at least have some fun while you're there.
long time no talk roy.
Comment posted on September 23rd, 2005 at 09:28 PM
I know how you feel. I went to a few Fundamentalist services and they wanted me to get all wrapped up in the hype. Even thought I should speak in tongues. No way. I believe in Jesus and that he saved those of us who want to be saved. Don't need to yell it out to the world. To me it is very private. I go to church once a week, but it is just a quiet time for me to talk to God.

I sort of have a pet peeve like you do, but not with skits. It is with work-related training and they always say "now we are going to break into groups." I hate that. Being an old fart, I always got picked to be the leader. I hated the whole concept. Just teach me what you feel you need to teach. Don't break me into a group. Don't miss that at all in retired life. Yuk.
Comment posted on September 23rd, 2005 at 09:03 PM
thanks for being honest and refreshing. i think that faith begins with a group telling you stories, followed by the individual going off to figure out if she can really can believe in those stories, and then coming back to the group and figuring out together more about this faith in something that is just not described well in words.
Comment posted on September 23rd, 2005 at 05:14 PM
sleep deprivation level, heheheheh...