Saturday, June 28, 2008

Sometimes (Albeit Rarely) Church Is Just Friggin' Awesome

Our friend Laura took us out to San Juan Chamula, a Tzotzil village about ten miles and 400 years from where we are. The highlight, by far (because there's nothing much to do there), was the church, which was unlike any church - unlike any thing, really - we'd ever seen. Inside, the church - which is no longer affiliated with The Church - was stripped of its pews, and the floor covered with pine needles. Table after table was covered with candles, roughly 10,000 of them. The blast of heat hits you the moment you walk in. Arrayed around the walls of the church are about 50 glass cases holding statues of various saints, including that young fella from Nazareth, who was just one among the many (the place of honor front and center went to St. John the Baptist, patron saint of Chamula.) The room was deathly silent except for Mayan women chanting prayers in Tzotzil, and lighting even more candles.

There's a "no photos" policy, and we were repeatedly reminded that this was "Strictly enforced," which we took to mean there would be a severe beat-down involved in breaking the rule. There are 174 photos of the church on Flickr, and all of them are exteriors. The photo above was the only one I was able to find on the intertubes, and even that was apparently taken on a day with far fewer candles burning.

Lucky for you, some scofflaw took a surreptious video of an old woman performing a do-it-yourself exorcism on a small child, using Coca-Cola and a live chicken. The child and the Coke seem to have come through it all okay, but be forewarned that the chicken goes to meet Jesus at around the 45-second mark.

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