Back in the Spring I was planning a trip to Québec for the summer holidays. My dear friend A. whom I hadn’t seen in years invited me to a getaway weekend in the Laurentians in Quebec and I could not possibly refuse. Pictures of the place were stunning and represented exactly what I needed after months of work and city life: brick-colored pine forests, mirror lakes and wooden huts on the shore. Peace, quiet, and an old friend. What more could I ask for? “Did I mention that it is a Christian camp?”. Aaah damn it.
As one might have guessed by now, I am not a Christian. Actually my dad is a Catholic, brought up in the countryside of Québec in those dark years where priests had more power than God himself. They would knock at doors and summon couples who had to procreate every year to be considered good Catholics. The Bible was their only book, and anything written in there was considered as an absolute and literal fact of life. I can only imagine my mum’s surprise when this handsome Quebecor she was dating told her that they had all the time in the world to have a family as women can have children until they are 90 years old. Remember Sarah?
But then again, why not. It’s not like my experience of Christianity is overwhelming, and there are lots of different Christians in this world. Some smile all the time and sing songs on their guitars “Jesus loves youuuu, and he loves me tooooo”, some say gays are the incarnation of the devil, but in the end they all believe that Jesus saved us and I guess he will save us again (i don’t remember about that part, whether he is coming back or not). Anyway the point it’s that he suffered for us and he loves you just the way you are, juuuuuust the way you arrreeeee.
Some are loving and sharing, some are idiots, others extremists. Just like every other human community. I just need to make sure it is not a Born Again Church organising this week end because I had some trouble with those guys in the Philippines. They were always trying to convert me by telling me all the different ways I would roast in Hell if I didn’t join them. But she assured me she is not a Born Again, she is a Baptist. I just made her promise no one would remotely try to convert me and the deal was sealed. I was going on a Christian camp.
At first it was hard to adapt, I won’t lie. When I was about to say the F word, I looked around and saw all these mums with their neat hair, pearl earrings and hairband and thought this was probably a bad idea. Then I realized swearing Jesus Christ is also probably a bad idea. Damn it can’t these people hear any of the fun words? Okay so I had to watch my mouth for a few days. And avoid doing silly things like wear a bikini or talk about my chastityless love life.
Then to my great surprise, everything was well organised for everyone to do some work. Men included. Teenage men included. So I ended up washing the dishes with very loud Christian rock on (yes there is such a thing, don’t raise your eyebrows like that). Not my favorite, rock’n roll is not supposed to sing the love of God in my mind, but you know how it is. In Rome do as the Romans.
I met friendly and welcoming people who, after all, accepted to have me although I am not a believer and know nothing about their Church. No one tried to talk me into Jesus stuff and no one expected me to attend mass. I took long walks by the river and read my friend’s book “How to get Jesus in control of your love life”. It hasn’t worked for her yet but she has faith it will.
The best part of the week end was when, in the middle of the night, a group of depraved youth started drinking and yelling and taking midnight baths in the little lake next to our all single women’s house. Apparently (I was sleeping like a stone) one of the newly converted ladies from our group couldn’t take it anymore and yelled at them in the middle of the night that they needed to shut the f** up. One of the guys replied “You shut up. I am trying to have sex with my girlfriend” which she answered by a classy “Do what you want with who you want but do it in silence and let us sleep”.
She was confronted the next day in the women’s session, where a not at all depraved American lady asked her if she was trying to encourage pre-marital sex. The 60 year old new recruit was kind of laughing and started a little speech that no one wanted to hear except for me. So first lesson of the camp, there are very different kinds of people in one church.
Second lesson is that they all have in common their faith and their absolute belief that Jesus has a plan for all of them (and for you too by the way). Which actually sounds very comforting in a world where we are all trying to do or best and not really knowing how to do it. Also annoying, I must say, when basically all the credit is going to Jesus and never to you for having cooked a great meal or rocked at your final exam. “It was all part of God’s plan for you”. Seriously?
I left the camp not becoming any closer to God, neither did I join the Church. But I did get answers to some of my questions about Christian views on this or that: bible stuff, gay stuff (thank you François for never getting offended and always answering as best you could). I even made a few friends which I hope I will keep after they have read this blog post. Ariane, Edvard, Jessica and especially Ruben, thank you for your hospitality and your love. And for the amazing gluten-free chocolate cake. Tasting that cake almost made me believe in God.
P.S: there are so many Christian cartoons available I had trouble chosing, hence the amount of Pictures in this post. Just a last one, this time on Jehova’s Witnesses.