Road Trip Day II.

I realized something, and maybe the others disagree. But we don’t know how to be tourists. Just, what do you see? How are you supposed to know? In the end it doesn’t really matter because the point is just hanging out. But I almost feel like the stuff we did precluded us from really hanging out, because we were too busy doing stuff to be together, if that makes any sense. But I dunno.

We got up late on the second day because we were exhausted. At least I was. I think we all were – no one got much sleep the night before. Dave got up early because of his “gift” as did John because of his stubbornness. I’m sure I related this in last year’s wrapups but John for some reason decided to get up early every day. So he did. And he was constantly tired. What’s the point, then? I dunno, I just think if you’re tired for everything you do that kind of defeats the purpose. But whatever.

But yeah, we got up late, me latest of all, and we set out to see Toronto. I did a little reading of the paper on the john. Did you know by the way the Canada has a stock exchange? Honestly, did you? And do you know what it’s called or what the major index is? There is, and I think it’s called the Toronto Stock Exchange. I think that’s the name of the index also, but not sure. But who knew?

Canada fascinates me that way. I dunno, maybe I’m countrist, but in a lot of ways Canada doesn’t seem like a real country. Like politically, as we learned in Victoria, it still has nominal ties to England. It’s weird. And socially, come on, it’s essentially a U.S. colony. So yeah, it fascinates me. Predictably, a lot of the newspaper is dominated by U.S. events, especially the business section. I guess what I was wondering was, you know, does like Canada care about what Alan Greenspan says? Because he’s not setting Canadian monetary policy. So does it matter to Canada? And the answer is, yes it does. The business section was dominated by U.S. financial news, including news on the U.S. Federal Reserve and stuff like that. I dunno, even economically, it’s like Canada is a colony of the U.S. But I guess the U.S. is such a juggernaut, maybe everywhere’s like this. I just thought it was interesting.

Toronto’s subway system is supposedly great so we took it towards the lakefront and walked around, on the way encountering an insane woman who I think wanted to go with us. Toronto was nice. I just couldn’t believe how clean everything was. Maybe I’m wrong, but in America, big cities feel dirty. There are certain parts they clean up for people and stuff, but generally, in a big U.S. city, at least to me, it feels dirty. But all of Toronto was so clean. I can’t believe it’s the biggest city in Canada. It’s nothing like New York. Again, just so clean. And you feel safe everywhere you go. Maybe we skipped all the shady areas but yeah, it was awesome.

We ate at this one crepe place that supposedly served Quebecois food. Andrew got the only Quebec style thing and I can’t remember how it was, but the rest of us got crepes that were quite good. I had I think sausage, apple, and cheese. It was especially good with pure maple syrup. My mouth is watering right now just thinking about it. Yum. Good meal.

Afterwards we went to some island in the lake. I dunno what it is with us and islands. Didn’t we do the same thing in Seattle and Vancouver? Why do all these northern cities have recreational islands? No clue. But like I said, we didn’t know what to do.

I’ll be honest – and this is just me – I was kind of disappointed in the island. We took a ferry there and promptly discovered that there wasn’t anything to do. There was stuff to do, just, we either didn’t feel like it or couldn’t do it. It’s basically a huge park, like Golden Gate Park. It would have been nice to have a picnic there, but we already ate. We took a few pictures. We walked around. There was a (disgusting) beach, but none of us had swimsuits. There were bike rentals, but the bikes were kind of ghetto and besides, we had no real place to bike to.

So basically we just walked around and sweated in the hot sun. Which, with the company, was still fun, but for me, disappointing. I think in the end we decided to check out a frisbee golf course. And of course you needed to bring your own frisbees. So we didn’t do that either. We just walked around for miles and sweated.

And we played Biaxin football. This is a tradition from last year. Andreww had brought this tiny foam football given to his dad I’m assuming by the makers of Biaxin, some drug. We threw it around everywhere last year. Anyway, we played another game this year, with me as all time quarterback.

I don’t understand how to play football anymore. When I was a kid, we played nerf football every day at school and every week at church. And there was frequently an all-time quarterback. So it worked then. But I dunno, when I play football now it’s absurd. The others would run these super long patterns and turn around, but would be so far away I’d basically have to chuck it Doug Flutie against Notre Dame style and just hope someone caught it, preferably on the same team. Or they’d run super short patterns – two steps turn around, easy catch. Nothing in between. I dunno, to me it’s absurd. But we played all the time as kids so it must have been doable. I just don’t remember how we played. Maybe it’s the football. I think next year I’m bringing a Nerf Turbo, my childhood football of choice. Forget tradition.

So yeah, played, took the ferry back, back to hotel, then got ready for our big trip that evening to the Toronto Airport Fellowship.

Dunno if you heard about this church. It used to be part of Vineyard but they split by mutual consent. Anyway, it’s the center of what’s called the Toronto Blessing. A lot of spiritual manifestations and whatever, which started… is that the right word? Inspired? Whatever, was the cornerstone of a big movement. Which has been criticized by a lot of people, notably Hank Hanegraaff, who slams it in his book Counterfeit Revival.

Long side note. John always gets mad at me when I slam Hanegraaff. He says something like, “You read one stupid website that claims something and…” blah blah blah. This is totally unfair. The reason I found out all the stuff about him is that I read Counterfeit Revival and afterwards did a random web search and the results were filled with all these people slamming him. I was shocked.

And it’s not random people. It’s like Walter Martin’s eldest daughter at (Walter Martin is the guy who founded CRI, which Hanegraaff now heads, and who started the radio show the Bible Answer Man, which Hanegraaff now hosts). Or James Kennedy, the guy who wrote Evangelism Explosion, who trained Hanegraaff some time ago, and who’s a pretty well respected guy (dunno about that site but if you search elsewhere that letter seems to be accurate). And it’s the LA Times. This link has the relevant story. I checked LA Times online, and could only get the abstract for free (gotta pay for the full article), but it seems a reliable reproduction.

Anyway, put the sources together and there are certain things that aren’t just allegations, but true. That the Martin family has split ties with Hanegraaff. That there are troubling similarities between Hank’s books and other previously published books. That according to CRI’s tax return, he makes $147,500 a year. That he lives in a gated community in exclusive Coto de Caza. And other things that may be true, maybe just allegations.

But yeah, all I’ve ever said is that there’s stuff out there about him that’s weird, and that’s it. I don’t have this huge need to slam the guy. But neither do I see why I need to defend him or ignore the truth. God uses him and that’s great. I just don’t see why John gets so mad when I point out a fact that he gets paid well and lives in a nice house. But anyway.

Back to the church. So yeah, it’s been the center of a big charismatic movement and it has a lot of critics. I mean, you’ve heard Winds Of Worship. What on earth does it take for a church to get kicked out of Vineyard? Wow. But yeah, my parents went there a few years ago and my mom at least liked it and for various reasons we decided to go.

This is Friday night. They have services every night, which is amazing. It’s been like that for years and years. The night we went wasn’t packed, but still a decent crowd, and people came from all over.

It was weird. I dunno what other word to use. Like, we ate in the cafeteria first, and there was this guy who came in with an enormous mohawk and a black cape. What the? And in the sanctuary we sat behind this woman with dozens of body piercings, a shaved head, and a a spiked collar. The weird thing about that was, her husband was this relatively normal nerdy looking guy (looked like he would be comfortable wearing a Linux Rules T-shirt) and their daughter looked perfectly normal. Two family members dressed like you and me, and one dressed like almost Goth. I could not figure it out.

I have a theory. And that is, she looks that way intentionally as a way of reaching out to certain groups. It’s kind of related to that Ethiopian parking lot guy from Day 1. You have to look the part to reach out sometimes. And if true, that’s really admirable. But I have no idea if it is true. I just couldn’t figure the family out.

The night started well enough. First a long time of praise. The worship team was quite good. Henry hates women worship leaders but even he would acknowledge that this woman was really good. They were actually really good – not overly showy, very tight, and good use of dynamics. Leader on vocals and guitar, a drum and bass, and a female background singer. This background singer was amazing. I mean, her ability to blend was astounding. She was so smooth in coming in and out. I can’t say enough about her.

In fact, the only weird thing about praise time was that the background to the lyrics was video of the worship team and congregation. But yeah, no healing notes of God, no horses. There were some flag wavers, but I’m down with that. Oh, one interesting thing was, they sang absolutely no Vineyard songs. I guess there’s some kind of bitterness there. I was looking through the CDs the church put out and yeah, no Vineyard songs there either. Even though they had a Winds Of Worship at that church at one time.

Then the weird stuff started happening. I’m not trying to make a qualitative judgment by saying it was weird. By weird, I’m just saying it was unusual. A quantitative judgment, if you will. So yeah, the praise ends and they have announcements. Normal enough.

Then this guy and his wife comes up to give a testimony about some retreat the church just had. By this time I was kind of zoning out, reading the church magazine that they gave to us as newcomers. And he’s talking normally, and then all of a sudden he lets out this loud, “Whoa!”

Again, I wasn’t watching, so I think I ignored it, but then later as he’s talking he lets out another “Whoa!” At this point it was so jarring I snapped my head up. But I looked around and everything seemed normal. The people on stage looked like nothing happened, the guy kept talking normally, talking about the weekend, most of the people in the congregation looked like nothing happened. So I asked John, “What the heck is going on?” And he replies, “Either that guy is in severe physical pain or…”

Can’t remember the other thing. Anyway, this kept going the entire talk. He’d be talking completely normally then all of a sudden a huge “Whoa!” with the guy bending over like he just got punched in the gut, a slight pause, then everyone continuing normally. So his talk was like this:

“The retreat was really a blessing for our family. The weather was WHOA!… really nice which was wonderful. There were many seminars throughout the WHOA!… day so there was WHOA!… lots of great teaching. The kids had a great time playing in the WHOA!… lake.”

So normal and yet so abnormal – surreal. Henry said it was like an SNL episode, where some guy is doing something absolutely bizarre and everyone around is acting like it’s perfectly normal. It was exactly like that. I hate to admit it but it became a joke among us the rest of the trip. Not by me. I dunno, I’m scared to make fun of something I don’t understand. Not the others. They couldn’t wait to get in the car and make fun of the guy. “Does he talk like that all the time? Does he have problems with customer service? Is it like that around the dinner table? Pass the WHOA!… tabasco, please.” They’re terrible.

Jieun says it’s a manifestation of the spirit and that there are usually interpreters there. But yeah, this particular night there were no interpreters. Just, in the middle of the guy’s testimony, a couple guys set up behind him in case he fell.

Then the sermon. Some guest speaker from Australia. Nothing special. Actually kind of boring. It was ironic because he noted in his talk how he ignored his seminary professor’s advice on how to structure a sermon. He could have used the help. It was just a rambling, diverging mess with a bunch of nice stories but no discernible structure or point. I seriously wanted to see his sermon notes. What does it look like? Are there sections that say “Digress here”? I wanted to know.

I wish I remembered this one digression he had. He said something akin to, “There’s something interesting that happens with big churches. As opposed to small churches. And I’ve been in a lot of small churches. I’ve been in a church so small, if you were pregnant, they counted both of you. I’ve been in a church so small, if you left the room and came back again, they counted you twice. I’ve been in a church so small, they counted the cats and dogs.” And of course he never got back to his point. Whatever it was. Australians.

Suddenly and abruptly the sermon ended, there was a altar call, and they went to I guess would be called ministry time. People came up asking for prayer and the pastor and ministry team would pray for people. This is when some of the weirder stuff happened. Like you had the people falling over, slain by the spirit. I’ve seen that before. What I hadn’t seen was holy laughter, a hallmark of this particular outpouring. People just fall over and start laughing uncontrollably, as if they heard the funniest thing in the world. It’s a little odd. But whatever.

What I respected about it was that at least in the one row we know about, they didn’t try to push people over. They barely even prayed out loud. If the guy didn’t fall over, they just moved on. And I respect that. I can’t say how sincere everyone was, but at least on that particular night they weren’t being manipulative or forceful. I respected that.

So what did I think of the church. I dunno, I don’t know too much about anything, just a single service. But, if I were to judge just that service, I’m OK with it. We didn’t hear anything heretical, and even if the behavior seemed a little weird, it seemed mostly OK. So yeah, I’m fine with it, based on just the service. I honestly know nothing else.

There is one thing that bothered me though and I couldn’t quite explain it until a Daniel study we did a couple weeks ago. We were going through the story where Daniel gets a vision of Nebuchudnezzar’s dream. One interesting thing is, when he asks his friends to pray to God about it, he asks that they plead for God’s mercy.

I think that’s the thing that bothered me about that night. I’m not saying it’s necessarily wrong, it’s just not how I would approach things. Just, the guy seemed to be using God’s power. Acknowledging it as from God, of course. But still, it almost seemed like he could use God’s power as he wanted. At one point, he shared how he once demonstrated God’s power just by saying “God, do it.” And again, not that that’s necessarily wrong. Maybe he’s so intimate with God that he’s glossing over the details.

But yeah, for me, I’d approach God with more the attitude of Daniel. I guess it’s a matter of emphasis. Just, Daniel was super humble. Even though their lives depended on it, he realized that God answering their prayers would be merciful. And he was humble afterwards also. I dunno, that’s the emphasis I would have with stuff like that. Not on wielding His power, but on depending on His mercy. But again, I’m so far removed from being intimate with God’s power, who am I to say.

Enough about the church. We left and set out for Chinatown. We’re turning into our parents. Some of our parents, the first thing they do when in a new city is locate the Korean/Chinese restaurants. And on our trips, we’ve always visited the Chinese areas. No real idea why.

Well, one idea. Chinese areas tend to have two things we like a lot: bubble tea and DDR / music simulation games. In fact, that’s how I tried to figure out where the Chinese area was – I did some web research on where DDR machines and bubble tea places were around Toronto. Like I said, it’s never in the city proper. For Vancouver, it was Richmond. For Toronto, I found a place called Markham.

But for some reason I didn’t write it down or anything. I vaguely recalled it while we were looking at some map. Wong vaguely recalled it also. So we went in the direction of there, and went to absolutely the wrong place. It was deserted, and no Asian places in sight. We eventually found ourselves at a Chinese restaurant with a cop outside so we stopped and asked for help. Thinking a cop would know the area, and if not, surely the Chinese restaurant would know where fellow Asians were. (“She is one of my own.”)

To make a long story short, we got directions and found the Asian areas. Jackpot. We decided on one of the strip malls that had bubble tea places, Korean BBQ, an Internet Cafe, and an arcade.

This place was awesome. I’m getting excited just thinking about it. We started with Korean BBQ. All you can eat, open till really late, and something like $8 Canadian a person! That’s less than $6 U.S! I was stunned. As you may or may not know, cheap food excites me. Almost too much. The last buffet I went to (in Tahiti) I ate so much I made myself sick for a week. But yeah, it makes me giddy, so I was excited.

But it was the strangest Korean BBQ place I’d ever been to. First of all, there was no Korean anywhere. There was English and there was Chinese. That’s it. And none of the employees were Korean. All Chinese, some of them could barely able to speak English. Have you ever seen a Korean restaurant like that? Bizarre. But the food was good enough. Nothing special, but all you can eat!

After that we went to a bubble tea place. There were two there; just randomly picked one. It was good. Dave said it was the best he’s had in his life. Like I said, I’ve joined the bandwagon so I get fruity drinks so I got a mango and it was really good. John got a Taro, Wong a normal, I believe. The only loser was Henry, who got a terrible tasting watermelon thing. Hideous. But 4/5 ain’t bad. We played Egyptian ratscrew I think it’s called, and Henry won.

Then we went to an arcade. I’m telling you, this is like my ideal night. Cheap all you can eat, then good bubble tea, then a good arcade, then an Internet cafe. You’ve pretty much summed up by social life right there. All in one strip mall! I was ecstatic.

Anyway, the arcade. Yeah, good arcade. Interesting thing about the fighting games – the opponents sat on the opposite side. Only one joystick per monitor. Which is cool. Had a good selection of the music sim games also, DDR, Beatmania (not DX), guitar, drums, keys. Also had a Gunmania machine which I had never seen before, but it was out of order.

So we played a few games. The last game we played was this multiplayer game that’s actually a lot of fun. It’s just a bunch of minigames that you play against the others (up to 4). There’s just 3 large buttons as the controls so it’s mostly about speed. But yeah, it was super fun, and typically Japanese. The mini games were like, “Super Happy Fun Ball Time!” Just always one or two words too many. Or “Throw Pies For Fun!” I dunno, hilarious titles, hilarious games. One involved a bride throwing a cake as far as she can into the congregation. The person the most rows back wins.

Is it OK to say this? I think so. So, we were playing and I think Henry was getting too into it. Just, he was approaching Bust-A-Move foam at the mouth levels. Maybe I’m wrong about it. But I don’t know. It was pretty fun, and I was pretty good at it. I just tend to be good at video games in general. I’m not anywhere near Arthur or Keith level, just, of us 5, I’m clearly the best, and all video games are based on a limited number of skill sets that I’ve developed most in. Nothing at all to be proud about. Quite a lot to be ashamed about, really. But yeah, it was a fun game.

Also stopped by the Internet cafe. I’m telling you, this strip mall was my ideal life. This place actually was like the implementation of Slim’s dream life. Completely dark, the sound on every computer cranked up, and everyone playing either Counterstrike or Dark Age of Camelot. They should have called the place “Slim’s”.

Henry said that John was hilarious in there. He walks in and says loudly, “This place depresses me.” Some guy asks if he needs help and John says, again, loudly, “No”. Hilarious, I say.

So I actually learned to play Counterstrike from Arthur so I played a few games in there just to feel the brotherhood. Gaming really is this little subculture. With its own rules of etiquette and standards of behavior and whatnot. I dunno, it’s just interesting.

Anyway, by that time it was pretty late. I want to say past 2. And the arcade and Net cafe were still open! Insane! But anyway, we headed back, and that was the day. I can’t remember if we shared that night or not. But yeah, a good day.

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