Last night, I went to the Promise Keepers “Uprising” event at Kiel.
I know very little about this group, aside from remembering a co-worker in another life and his deep involvement in the group. This was over nine years ago, so it would’ve been near the very beginning of that group’s time. I’d kinda dismissed that, as I also dismissed him, as a little “too much” for me. (Believe it or not, I was actually more cynical then than I am now — that’s gotta be a tough one to swallow!)
I’d been hearing the adverts on KSIV, and saw that our church had discounted tickets — still not cheap, but discounted — so I figured I’d go. I’ve been looking for inspiration to better lead our family, and this crowd seems to have that nailed in spades. I’m a sucker for organizational affiliation, too, so this was a natural fit, right?
I arrived, and discovered that Kiel had been transformed into a Christian bazaar, with vendors and pamphlet distributors and all kinds of folks pressing the flesh, promoting their agendas. This was… interesting. I made a couple of loops through the vendors, and entered the auditorium. All this time, I had a headache that was building, and beginning to take first chair.
My first impression of this crowd was made by some unfortunate guy who was trying to reserve a whole section of seats. I asked about a single seat, and I was told — politely — that they were reserving all these seats for some reason that wasn’t entirely clear to me, and that there were some over on the other side of the arena. A trip back up the stairs (like a salmon swimming upstream), and a trip halfway around the perimeter through the vendors again, and I descended into the arena again. This time, however, someone gladly pointed me to a seat that was unused, and I found my patch of ground for tonight’s activities.
The first thing I noticed about the stage was the massiveness of it, adorned in giant gears, video monitors and a couple of guys chained up in cages (representing men in bondage, I came to understand). I was seated about 45 minutes ahead of the start, and began reading through some of the material that had been put in my hands by the vendors above.
I started noticing different sections beginning to yell back and forth at each other, in an almost high school fashion, the intensity raising to a frenzied pitch. Of course, there were many cheerleaders strongly encouraging everyone to stand up and play too. Now, I’m not terribly comfortable doing that kind of stuff, nor am I comfortable being the one standing out by my lack of participation. So, that increased my discomfort a bit.
The show began, and opening was a hip-hop type band, The Katinas, and once again, there was this expectation of participation in a “call and response” series of songs they performed. Not knowing the music, and already uncomfortable, I merely stood politely and watched the crowd. In a frenzy, folks were dashing down to the arena floor, and began bouncing and spinning, and bouncing beach balls (which were eventually confiscated by the PK security folks) through the crowd. All they needed was a mosh pit, and it would’ve been indistinguishable from any other kind of musical event held anywhere. And, it was loud.
Eventually, the first speaker came out. He was the author of the book upon which this whole tour was based. He spoke for fifteen minutes or so, and yielded the stage. Another loud video montage, and the second speaker was up.
By this time, my head was absolutely pounding. I got up to leave, and headed home to try to get rid of the roaring pain in my head.
So, my intersection with the PK folks lasted about three hours, and that was probably enough for me. I think there’s some merit in their stated objectives, but it was just too much for me. Maybe I’m not ready for that, maybe I’m just not as open-minded as I would like to believe. Perhaps I just have too many hangups to let myself go, and enjoy myself, unfrittered by my self-conscious nature.
Whatever the issue, I was patently uncomfortable with the unrestrained emotional nature of this gathering, and as a result, I suspect I won’t be returning today to complete the conference. I expected teaching and training, and while that was on the docket, there was just too much distraction and too many things that hit me wrong for me to hear the message. The message was lost in the presentation, and that’s a shame.
Frankly, I like better the opportunities for Beck and I to hear the same message at the same time. It seems like there’s more to gain for us to grow together, than to grow separately.