Sunday, September 22, 2013

a mustard seed

The topic of today's sermon at church was faith.

Not the getting, but the exercising.

Mexico, of course, is a land of faith.  Or, at least, of religion.  I comment on it often in Mexpatriate.

The topic simply cannot be avoided.  There are Catholic churches aplenty.  If you need a church or a chapel or a shrine, there is usually one just steps away.  Now that I write that, I recall there is a shrine at the end of the block -- where an entire development had to be altered to accommodate its presence.  There may be a future post there.

But, back to the topic.  Religion and faith are not the same thing -- as you all know.  And I have seen a certain type of faith acted out daily in Mexico by the young.

I was beguiled by some interesting reviews to set aside my boredom with haunting films.  Several writers I respect recommended The Conjuring as being head and shoulders above the genre.  So, off I went last night.

One of the nice things about San Miguel de Allende is its cineplex.  Multiple screens showing multiple films.  Most of them American-made with Spanish subtitles.  Looking at the film offerings, it would be easy to believe that Mexico had ceded the entire country to the United States in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.  At least, its movie screens.

My fellow movie-goers were all Mexican.  Young Mexicans.  Mostly boys.

The two rows behind me were filled with rambunctious boys from about eight through twelve.  Feet draped over the back of the seats in front of them.  Loud.  Full of life.

For about the first five minutes of the movie, they chatted as much as any group of junior high girls.  But they soon settled in -- after the first "horror" scene.

What they settled in to see was a rather classic haunting and possession film.  The only twist was a new rule.  Demons do not possess things; they possess people.  They only reside in things as conduits to get into people.

That distinction sounds a lot like the White House's explanation of why spending increases are actually spending cuts.  But the movie belongs to the screenwriters.  They can make up the rules they like -- just as long as they abide by them.

In The States, people of a nervous disposition visibly react in fear to the sudden appearance of events that are designed to stimulate the startle reflex.  And the film makers here did their best to use some familiar techniques with a few twists -- some withe mere camera work.

But the crowd around me did not jump once.  I saw no spilled popcorn.  No boyfriend's arm comforting a frightened date.  No oral outbursts.

What I heard was laughter.  At every "startling" scene.

Like this one.  A demon has possessed one of the main characters.  We are supposed to be in dread of her -- and her murderous intent against children.

But not the boys behind me.  They started laughing.  And, as the horror scene built to a climax, their laughter peaked into paroxysms of choking hysteria.

I was initially surprised -- until I started looking at the screen.  What we saw was an actress in makeup (and with special effects) that was a parody of a clown. 

There was no horror.  Nothing scary.  Just an actress on a set trying to milk an emotion out of this audience that was just not going to happen.

And that is one of the joys of Mexico.  Danger and death are just part of the cycle of living.  There is no need to fear it.  Fear merely makes you a victim.  Laughter keeps you dancing through life.

It is not just horror films.  Day of the Dead is the equivalent of laughing at death.  Or the boys who run through the showering fireworks during fiestas -- protected by nothing more than a thin bit of cardboard.

Not to mention bull fights -- or its vehicular cousin: driving in Mexico.

That is faith.  That simply by living, you are going to get through this day -- and the next.  With laughter.  Joy.  And contentment.

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