Thursday, 13 May 2010

grahamstown, city of saints, pt. 4: churches

So here's finally some pictorial evidence to why Grahamstown is known as the city of saints. And these are all in one street, except the one below, so it's far from all of the churches in town. Not all of them are in service still I was told, which doesn't surprise me cos there seemed to be more churches than people. But we were walking around on a Sunday, so maybe all the people were already inside, I wouldn't know actually. I've always loved churches, as buildings, as architecture, as a safe haven, even though I'm not religious at all, and never have been. I don't go into them often, but when I do I love the whispering, and the cool air, and the statues, and seeing the painted glass windows from inside, and the incredible church organs, and I always light a candle for the ones in my family who have passed away.

I really love gothic churches, possibly the most of all architectural genres, or whatever you call it. Not only cos I was once a goth girl (and will always be one at heart I suspect ...), it's just something about how dramatic they look, and a bit delicate, and incredibly ornamental and the complete opposite of "less-is-more", which is also the complete opposite of my life's motto. More is more and more beautiful is more beautiful. I regret not going into this one, but I wasn't dressed properly and after being chased out of a catholic church once I'm not taking any chances. I was only 13 and the guy chasing me was yelling in French, which I didn't know then and don't know now, and it was all pretty terrifying.

I can understand that he was upset cos he thought I was being disrespectful to his religion, and not wearing appropriate clothing, which apparently there were big signs about out front I realised once outside again. So, my bad. I still think maybe he overdid it a little bit, after all I was just 13 and clearly didn't know better. Maybe he just didn't like blondes.

I do think I have respect for religion and the fact that people have different beliefs cos of different reasons, and that in many cases it's very helpful for a lot of people too. I won't go into it more than that, but it would be easier if that respect went both ways. And any religion that states that for example homosexuality is an abomination, or that women are put on this earth simply to serve men, well, I'm sorry but that's just not okay in my book. And I will fight anyone on that if necessary. Sweden is for most parts a very secular society, so I was a bit surprised when I came to South Africa the first time and realised religion is a much bigger part in people's lives here, in general, it seems. I was even asked a couple of times what religion I belonged to, which has never happened before. After seeing the disappointed look the first time I replied I didn't have one, even if I didn't say I was an atheist (not sure it would've made a difference), the second time I kind of dodged it a little saying that most Swedish people are Christian. I know it's a ridiculous answer, but I just didn't want to end up defending my non-belief-system at that point. After 22 years of explaining why I don't eat meat and that I don't expect other people to not eat meat when they're around me, I like to leave it at that. You do what you do, and I do what I do. Unless what you're doing will hurt someone I care about.

For a long time I've thought of music as my religion, cos the effect it has on me I believe is very similar to what effect religion has on others. I could be wrong, but that doesn't really matter does it, it's just the way it is for me. And in the end that's all that matters. To me. Music has always saved my life, has always been there for me in my darkest hours and let me seen the light again, has always made me feel less alone when I was hurting from loneliness, has always made me the happiest when I've needed it the most and thought I deserved it the less. Isn't that what religion should be all about? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think it should be at least.

Going to live shows, more than anything, has given me most of the best experiences in my life, without hesitation. After about 20 years of going to concerts it still effects me the same exact way when it's good: with complete and utter ecstacy and happiness. Few things in life can compare to that, in fact for a long time I didn't think anything ever could. Turned out something, or rather someone could, and I married him, but it hasn't taken away my love for music one bit. Just this week The National, probably my main musical god in the last 4-5 years now, has just released a new album and they have managed to once again complete me, even though I didn't feel the least bit broken before hand.

It's just something in Matt's voice that comforts me on an almost subsconcious level, it reaches into my innermost dark hidden places and makes them peaceful. I don't care if their lyrics doesn't make any sense, it's not about the lyrics saying anything about my life in particular, as it can be with a lot of other music I love. It's different, and I love that feeling just as much as I love the music. And I can't wait for August, when I'll see them live again, in Gothenburg, and possibly maybe even again during the fall, when they return for more European dates. I know they'll make me cry, the first and only time I've seen them so far I cried during three entire songs, and I thought my heart was gonna break, cos it couldn't take that much happiness. But the heart is a powerful muscle, it can take pretty much. I know that for a fact, cos I love a lot. And every day I fill it with more music, giving it more blood to pump and beat and sing a song for itself. Amen.

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