The Response Criterion Collection: More Pictures From Saturday's Prayerapalooza

Photos By Groovehouse
Just like a concert, but with no alcohol and merch, and a little less moshing.
Since coming back from The Response event at Reliant Stadium on late Saturday afternoon and posting my blog about the event, which I spent almost eight hours at, the comment section on the Hair Balls piece has become a great and strange battleground of ideas over what it means to be a Christian in 2011.

Funny enough, a lot of people didn't see that I do, in fact, believe in God. They thought that I was somehow a godless heathen for even stepping foot into the stadium. Fair enough. But I did spend the first 15 years of my life going to church, getting saved every two weeks out of fear, and learning all I could about the good book, so it's not like I was there to set the place on fire with the unholy fire of alt-weekly scorn. I chose to leave that out on Saturday because who cares, just like no one cares now.

None of the commenters must have read the part about the serenity of the worship music like "How Sweet The Sound" or how I felt something in my body during the event. That was ignored. But the best part about writing about something as sadly divisive as The Response is that people read their own fears and opinions into the work.

I actually did feel something in my body, like in my stomach, as the whole place was deep in prayer. I describe it as the feeling that I usually get when I shoot a band at a big festival and you can feel a surge of love released at the stage, except this was quieter, and more enveloping. Oh, and here's my man card. I should probably turn it in now.

The fact of the matter is, if Rick Perry hadn't shown up or even been a part of The Response, I wouldn't have been there and neither would have many in the crowd. Hell, there would probably have been no protesters to speak of. Westboro Baptist Church wouldn't have even shown their faces.

(On a side note, making the thing a food drive for a local food bank in addition to a prayer rally would have been a good, moral and Christian thing to do, but that's just me. If you have all these people in the same room, at least help the people who aren't there. But there I go being a bleeding heart.)

Truth be told, the constant bickering between both sides of the picket line got to be almost angering. Screaming over each other for hours on end, trying to out-snark one another. By 5 p.m. on Saturday, I was disillusioned and amused equally by both sides, and didn't care to listen to the yelling.

I rounded up a few pictures from the event that probably need a little background and some sort explanation. Also, here's a link to some videos I also took that may have gotten lost in the shuffle. I am still kinda sore that Dr. James Dobson declined to get a picture with me, because it would have been pretty cool to say I have pictures of myself with Larry Flynt and Dobson in the same week.

This sign is a reference to The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Universe, according to Eric Sauseda, the photographer in the trenches on Saturday. Three people probably got that reference, including Eric.

This lady reminded me of all those pictures of those beautiful hippie girls in the '60s, just mellowing out to Santana or the Dead. To me she encapsulated that notion I had that for most, this was just a really moving, spirit-filled praise and worship event and not a rally for Rick Perry's hair.

It was hard to deny the comedy of both sides, the atheists and the Christians, arguing over the existence of something that none of us will know about for sure until we die.

As I walked over the footbridge over Kirby and onto the Reliant grounds, I spied this lady blowing this horn with a kid next to her holding an Israeli flag. For the next eight hours, the confusing ballet of how and why would roll on. Never saw her again either.

I really want to know if either side swayed the other on Saturday, or at least changed one another's mind. Like, did a straitlaced father of four walk away from them going, "Dude has a point, God doesn't exist. Let's go home, honey," or did one of the protesters think, "To each his own, I presume."
There was a section on the floor, near where one of the end zones would be, where people would congregate to really let their praise moves loose. One girl was doing this intricate soft shoe, laughing ecstatically, while some were on their knees openly weeping.

The heckling going back and forth was priceless between the Christian smokers and the sweaty protesters. Water guns would have been a fun idea.

It's funny, an anthropologist can observe an indigenous people praying to their god in very much the same way, and it's science and humanity, because the poor bastards don't own computers or watch TV. You come watch these people and it's supposed to be a freak show. If you weren't used to seeing this, you would obviously assume they were all crazy in the head. The mood in the praise pit, the seat-less area in front of the stage, was just as excitable but not as mobile.

Alas, the booze was locked up all day, so as to deter drunken praying and rowdiness in the crowd. Do prayers get discarded by the man upstairs if you are inebriated, like so many drunk calls to exes and friends? The world will never know.

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