Very funny, Miles. Still, a bit off target. Our open mic is not one monolithic group, although we do have regulars. On the second Sunday of every month we host a variety of poets, musicians, singers, actors, writers, etc. Our guests occasionally present political speeches and sermons. A poem can be preachy or heartfelt, just as a sermon can be preachy or heartfelt. But most of our performers are mature enough to know how to get their ideas across without violating the boundaries of their audiences. We have managed to create a safe and open space for a variety of viewpoints, but on Sunday the pastor of the church crossed a line. He went way beyond the exercise of his freedom of speech or expression and into the territory of the imposition of dogma and the curtailing of other people's freedom of thought and freedom of religion.
Long story short, his wife (a minister and a writer/liturgist) was invited to be our featured performer. Because his church membership is waning (He alienates a lot of people.), the pastor took this as an opportunity to try to fill his pews or, at the very least, to preach to a near-captive audience, and to lead them through an unexpected worship service. Once he got much of the audience to participate (at first anyway) he told us that he would allow us to continue to use the space. Wow. Translation: If you do as I say you will be allowed to use the space. We have been paying for the space with the door ($3 admission, averaging 30-40 participants).
Because our curator/emcee is a member of this church, and very active on committees, he was especially vulnterable to church politics or power plays. He has a lot invested here. As for the unexpectedly imposed worship service, some of our guests walked out. Some stayed and participated. Some stayed and angrily refused to participate. Some stayed and participated sarcastically. Some stayed and simply observed patiently. Our curator/emcee has since sworn that this will never happen again, that he is in the process of looking for another space, and that he will personally apologize to the folks who were offended.
Last edited by Indi9; 02-10-2009 at 07:59 AM..