Based on what I saw of its sombre and pious ad in The Telegram, the Freedom in Christ Conference that took place in St. John’s May 18-19 took itself quite seriously, much more so, say, than one of those American “old time religion” events of years past, those spiritual revivals under the big canvas tent, complete with the mind-numbing sounds of dozens of tambourines, participants speaking in tongues, the festivities designed to help the sinful to bond once again with the Almighty, but all taking place with a flair for entertainment.
What was undoubtedly a solemn conference in St. John’s was designed — I surmised from the ad — for those reprobates who had taken way too many sex-soaked
Friday night trips to George Street, paid for thousands of those devilish gambling games under convenience store counters or had blatantly kept over a dozen trout on the opening day of the fishing season last Tuesday. The gathering is obviously over now, but it’s a shame more of us didn’t see the conference promo in The Telegram, had been inspired by its Godly message and had found a seat in this ER for sinners.
Now, it was based on what the ad highlighted as the “Five Keys of Unbound as Taught by Neil Lozano,” the implication being that having this fella Lozano’s material was a coup for Newfoundland (for all that I know, and all that most would know, it could have just as easily been Unbound as Taught by Eddie Ex-lax). But the ad did contain an intriguing and practical list of agenda items that could have been of potential benefit to many in this God-fearing province of ours, especially those who had decided that the Higher Power was not all He/She/It was cracked up to be by round-collared brainwashers, if, in fact, He/She/It existed at all.
But perhaps some sinners can still extract a sparkle of divine inspiration, enjoy a spiritual awakening, by merely looking over the brief, but certainly profound, array of suggestions in The Telegram ad as to who the organizers thought capable of deriving heavenly benefits from a weekend (probably relatively inexpensive, I’m sure) with the Lord at your table.
For instance: anybody who finds themselves struggling with the same sin area time after time. It may have been too late in the game for at least one sinner; former bishop Raymond Lahey was defrocked last week, told he’ll never play another shift for Team Catholic, but ordered by the Pope to pray every single day for the remainder of his existence (wow, judging by that latter punishment, Benedict really knows how to put those German boots of his to sexual predators; imagine, forced daily to pray).
Deviant Lahey types aside, struggling with the same sin area time after time could be applicable to many of our politicians both here and in Ottawa; surely, they could have clanged the bells in response to that first item in the conference’s lineup. After all, they operate in the same sin area on innumerable fronts: struggling with the truth, lacking integrity, displaying pure arrogance, trying to pull the wool over the eyes of their fellow citizens and generally exemplifying why they’re always at the bottom of every popularity poll in the free world.
Anyone interested in spiritual growth.
Again, politicians could fit the bill.
I’m sure senators like Fabian Manning, George Baker, Elizabeth Marshall, etc., etc., all of whom have sold their political souls to sit in the smelly patronage pit called the Senate, might be interested in late-in-the-game spiritual growth. As for Stephen Harper and his Lucifer-like treatment of Newfoundland, only an exorcism at this point would do the job (paging Father Karras of “The Exorcist” fame).
Anyone who feels hopeless in finding freedom. Well, I don’t know about anyone else, but freedom for me is easily attainable here in Newfoundland: a deep pond abundant in pan-sized mud trout on a beautiful June evening, for instance. But you could argue, I guess, if you still think we were done in by the events of 1949 that we never found the freedom so many Newfoundlanders wanted and fought for.
Anyone who wishes to tap into the potent power of the gospel. Well, now, there’s a doozy. Got a terminal illness on your hands, had a recent tragedy in your family, have one kid in court on drug charges and the other suspended from school for slapping around the smallest, quietest and smartest kid in the playground? Just open that Bible, any page, any time and, sir, your problems are over.
Then again, poor Kathy Dunderdale, starting to act more and more like a lightweight, in way over her head, might want to think about having a small Bible stored away in her purse, or in her desk at the legislature.
Anyone who longs to help someone without hope. Well, there’s plenty of well-heeled types here on the Avalon, especially in these oil-drenched days, who might want to share some of the wealth. (Speaking of wealth, have any of you St. John’s readers happened to have spotted that — to use an expression my old man was fond of — vulgar display of affluence being constructed down Rennies Mill Road way? The owner of that ostentatious plantation might want to help “someone without hope,” someone in the same city but barely getting by.”
Finally: anybody bound by negative patterns of thinking.
How about the Opposition? They’re pretty well swallowed up by negativity. It’s the nature of the beast for them, of course. But perhaps an uplifting prayer might bring them out of the doldrums, at least for a couple of days. Our Man from Glad, Dwight Ball, might allow himself to forget for a moment or two that he’s merely keeping the Liberal Leader’s seat warm for Dean McDonald.
Hallelujah, brothers and sisters, hallelujah!
Bob Wakeham has spent more than 30 years as a journalist in Newfoundland and Labrador. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.