Friday, December 30, 2011

The fifth day of Christmas: Falun Gong, Con Ed and the Christian Missionary Alliance

The morning temperature has dropped down to 23 degrees and it is COLD in the church. Zach from #ows is waiting for me when I arrive. He’s there to clean out the fourth floor gym, leftovers from last summer’s Woodshed production of the Tenant and the reamins of the recently dismantled shower lining the walls. #ows will be using the space for community council meetings.  A young woman, Felicia, has joined him.
There are mysterious things around. A large metal grinding machine on the first floor. Work being done in the men’s room. Lights on in the boiler room. Later, I discover that a crew from Chris the plumber has been hard at work. Charles, from Chirs’ crew, comes to my office. He’s waiting for Chris and a Department of Buildings’ inspector to run a test on the boiler. Inching ever closer. 
Then Julie from the Chinese cultural presentation, Shun Yen, soon to be at Lincoln Center, walks into my office. I feel like she has been stalking me for months. Insisting that my congregation needs to have them do a presentation on 5000 year old Chinese culture, destroyed by the Chinese Communists.  I have  kept trying to explain why Advent and Christmas were very busy times and this was not the way we wanted to share the holidays.
What she doesn’t say is that their production is sponsored by Falun Gong, a Chinese new relgion, harmless enough, but seems but deemed a cult in the People’s Republic. They are constantly kneeling in protest prayer in front of the Chinese Embassy. She has this prepared speech she keep going through over and over again, like magazine sales peope or those annoying people from the energy supply companies that say they are connected to Con Ed and want to help you reduce your energy bill. The minute I hear this clearly outsourced phone voice start in with Mister Robert..., I just want to run. 
Jane walks in as Julie is going thorugh her speech. Sees that i’m about to lose it. I am beginning to sympathize with PRC bureaucrats. Jane throws Julie a question about the Cultural Revolution. Julie is stopped for a second but soon back on message. I take it you weren’t a supporter, Jane says. Somehow, we move her on. We may still wind up with a presentation on Chinese culture, like it or not. 
I’m wondering how my friends from the picket line in front of Saigon Grill, back again today, would handle this. I stopped and visited with them today on my way to  work.  Exchanged holiday greetings. With them, I would share the holidays.
Jane’s here to tell me there’s a confab going on in the boiler room, so we head down there.  There’s Chris, at least two Polish plumbers, Charles, and a neatly uniformed DOB inspetor. The news? We have passed the inspection. According to Chris, all that is needed is for the DOB inspector to enter his report  on the DOB computer which will talk to the Con Ed computer which will send a Con Ed hook up crew. Sounds simple enough, but I see too many holes there. Call Gale, says Chris. She’s got to help us through one, or two?, more hoops before the heat comes on. Jane goes out to to call Gale. 
Dan is in and out doing various volunteer activities. More #ows volunteers are showig uo, heading to the fourth floor. 
I thought Jane has left,but she’s still here.  I am trying to share a song with Jane, guitar, frozen fingers and all, when two smiling young people push thier way thrugh my door. Hi, can we come in? No, says Jane, we’re almost finished. You have to wait. The interruption has thrown me off.  
Turns out they’re  from the New Mission Korean Church. Yet another church group having to leave the public school where they have been worshipping, due to a Suprme Court ruling on separation  of church and state.  They had called earlier . I told them to call Danielle, make an appointment. But they show uo an walk in anyways. I want to ask if they’ve been trained by Falun Gong. But no, just the  Christain Missionary Alliance.  But I do give them a tour.  Sigh. 
Zach wants me to see what’s been accomolished. In the fading afiternoon light, I can see he’s done a great job directing his crew. It looks..and smells...good and clean. 
I am too cold. It’s time to leave. 

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