One of the delightful benefits of living in an urban area is that there are always activities of one kind or another to lure us out of our houses. I took advantage of this and attended two completely different events today. Both were going on all weekend, but today I found that there were things I could do at both which were free of cost.
A local Greek Orthodox church was having a Greek cultural festival. It was what you might expect this to be: their church parking lot crowded with booths where people could buy food and art and clothing and more food, and a stage where ethnic music was performed along with dancing. Personally I love to eat Greek food, and get it frequently enough at restaurants in the area that I didn’t need to stand in long lines in the hot sun to eat off disposable plates. Instead, I had come for the tour of their church.
I’ve been inside many different kinds of churches over the course of my moderately long life. This was my first time inside an Orthodox Christian sacred space. The stained glass windows were familiar, as were the robes of the clergy, but the paintings and iconography were decidedly foreign to me. It was a small space, for a small congregation, but the altar area was richly decorated and ornate. Much of it was familiar to me from attending Roman Catholic Mass, which I have not attended for many years. We tourists sat in the pews while the choir sang a selection of liturgical hymns, much of which was in Greek. I followed along in the books provided, and marveled at the alien writing.
It was not so much of a tour as an opportunity to see inside their world. The priest — I am assuming they are called priests — talked a bit about the church and let us look around. Then everyone shuffled back out into the hot sun and long food lines. I walked back to my car, which was parked on the other side of a highway, taking a path through an unfamiliar neighborhood with old shade trees and uneven sidewalks. It was a marvelous excursion.
After a few hours back at my house for dinner, I made the transition to the next event of the day. “Conspiracy Con 2012” was in town! I was not interested in paying money to hear their panel of speakers, but I was curious enough to make the drive to the hotel to see what kinds of exhibits were open to the public. Mostly it was a conference room of tables, on which vendors had stacks of DVDs, books, magazines, and bumper stickers for sale. I picked up a few pamphlets, promising to visit their website if someone stopped me to make their pitch. It was a sad assortment of paranoia and anti-government rants, mixed with some New Age spiritual advisors ready to read your aura.
I don’t mean to offend anyone who attends these sorts of gatherings or ascribes to their political leanings. Some of it brushed the fringes of the kinds of things I am interested in, but most of it sounded like bad science and contradictory opinions to me. The event organizers made an announcement inviting people to register for their upcoming Super Soldier Summit, and reminded us that the UFO Con would be coming back to this same venue in the fall. They ended their day with an open Q&A forum, which I left before it was over.
I walked outside into the night air, with the full moon just beginning to rise over the hotel complex. I looked, but didn’t see any aliens.