Saturday, April 3, 2010

A gift for the Germans

When we lived in Freiburg im Breisgau, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany, last fall, I blogged regularly about our experiences, almost always from the perspective of a stranger in a strange land. There was much to priase: gun control, clean public restrooms, a functioning multi-party political system, bucolic scenery, walkability, public health care, architecture, art. There was much to feel distressed about: the shadow of the Holocaust, alienated teenagers who beat up strangers on subways, neo-Nazis. And there was much to poke fun at: pop music (good news! "Aloha He, Stern der Suedsee," by the group Die Flippers, is back on!), the bizarre and remarkable consistency of Brotzeit menus from one Bavarian restaurant to the next, regional dialects, adult men who pretend to be cowboys on their play ranch near IKEA, and people who vacuum their sidewalks in the fall and shovel snow off of them before dawn in the winter.

Today, to show my appreciation for all those quintessentially German experiences, I offer a gift in return: something quintessentially American. Indeed, it has "Made in the USA" written all over it in proud, indelible ink. Into which category--praiseworthy, distressworthy*, pokefunworthy*--will the inquiring German tourist place it?

We have before us, on this Easter eve, Westwood Baptist Church, in nearby Cary, North Carolina. Too busy shopping at Wal-Mart and Starbucks to properly contemplate how Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins? Thanks to Westwood's Drive-Thru Easter, you can hear and see the Passion from the comfort of your very own air-conditioned SUV! Church members enact six scenes of the season, beginning with Christ's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem and ending with His Resurrection (for which, reports the Raleigh News and Observer, "Jesus' tomb is fashioned out of the church's Dumpster area, a dark sheet, and a toy pool made to look like a boulder").

Germany, of course, has the famous Oberammergau Passion Play, performed at least once a decade over the past 376 years as a way of thanking God for sparing the town from the bubonic plague in 1633. This year's cast numbers around 2,000--about half the population of Oberammergau. But the play lasts five hours, not including a three hour dinner break, and you actually have to get out of your car for it. Plus, all the stores are closed by the time it's over. So inefficient. In the U.S., it's all about convenience. At Westwood, you get to enjoy "almost an instant worship experience," and you're already in position to drive somewhere else as soon as you're done.

*Neither "distressworthy" nor "pokefunworthy" are real words in English, though I'm sure the German language can come up with legitimate one-word translations for both.

1 comment:

prucker said...

"Drive thru Easter" compares very nicely to "Die Flippers" which would make it "pokefunworthy". As we Germans like to generate very lengthy words I propose "Die spinnen, die Amis" for your Easter monstrosity and keep my mouth firmly shut on "Die Flippers" ... ;-)