Sunday, February 04, 2007

Church Time!

So I went to Church today. I haven't regularly gone to church for a few years now and though I've been to mass here in Vienna, I haven't felt the need to go on a regular basis. Anyway, my friend Olivia here who is from Burkina Faso invited me to go to her Church this week so I tagged along.

It was great!

It is a mainly African congregation (loads of Nigerians) and they were doing a special "Thanksgiving" celebrations, basically just a lot about thankfulness and fantastic music and dancing. Very lively and a lot of fun, it was great to come out of church and feeling energized. People had also been encourage to wear traditional African dress for the service and the colors were just brilliant.

It was also just funny walking into the Church because I and the other friend Olivia brought were pretty much the only white faces. I say funny because Olvia is the only black person at the academy so it was like a complete reversal from the norm (hey, turn about is definitely fair play!). Olivia also made a joke about that which was pretty amusing.

That being said, the odd thing was that the pastor was a white southerner (yes reminding me of my christian high school days), though he too was decked out in traditional African dress (see picture). He danced awkwardly and whitely. I was entertained.

The only thing I didn't like was the way he spoke about the tithe. For those who don't know, Christians are generally supposed to give a tithe to the Church amounting to about 10% of their income. Many people see it more as an obligation to give a tenth of your earning to others, either through the church, charity, or something else you do for others. Fair enough, I mean what people do with their money is there business just that the pastor specifically said that people should give a tenth of their welfare payment and Kindergeld (think child support from the government) to the church. That just didn't seem right. The African community in Vienna isn't too well off (many are asylum seekers) and it just seemed to me like the people receiving those payments to support their families probably needed it as much as any other charity. I don't know. Also I am skeptical when people claim to have been miraculously cured of cancer and promote faith healing over medicine, but that is just me.

Still though I had a wonderful time, the service was extremely moving and regenerating. Though the same space gets used for various other ethnic-oriented services too, so it was pretty funny how the one I went to was pretty homogeneously African, while by the time we got out the Filipinos were already lined up waiting for their turn.

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