God chose to kick off Vice Holland's festival season coverage with the 'EO-Jongerendag' (Evangelical Youth Day), an annual one-day youth festival organised by the Dutch Evangelical Broadcasting Association. We went to the Gelredome (home of football firm Vitesse and venue for big concerts and events) in Arnhem and witnessed it all, from Christian metalcore to the punckrocking sillies of Hawk Nelson, from Dutch Christian PM and Harry Potter lookalike Jan-Peter Balkenende to a support group for moon bears. Yes, moon bears. We are serious.
Left or right? These are An – that's your name, right? you never called… - and Mellissa ('with double-l and double-s'), who we met in the train to Arnhem. They simply couldn't believe we were actually heading for the Evangelical Youth Day. They thought that we were joking and that we – like them – were actually going to the Free Your Mind festival (wich was also in Arnhem on that day). But hey, can you imagine a better place to free your mind than the Evangelical Youth Day, especially during this edition themed 'Freedom'? Like Abraham once told Lot: 'Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me. If thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right. Or if thou take the right hand, then I will go to the left.' (Genesis 13:9)
The Cross we saw emerging from afar made us suspect we were going the right way. The parking lots next to the Vitesse stadium have never looked so pretty. First, let's see what the market has to offer us, divine goody-wise.
'Meer hoop zonder dope' ('More hope without dope')... Eat your heart out, Vice. At first we thought campaigns like these wouldn't sort much effect. But when we lost our lighter somewhere and needed to borrow one, we suddenly noticed that there was almost no smoker to be found amongst the thousands of visitors.
In fact, a circle of fear formed around the only smoked cigarette we saw lying on the ground.
Oh yeah, Israel also had it's own market stand, where you could win an iPod if you guessed right how many marbles some jar contained.
Believe us, there are no bears living on the moon. Moon bears are bile bears whose gall bladders are tapped by - amongst others - the Chinese in order to obtain their bile, which is said to have healing effects. One of the ways in which bears' bile is tapped from moon bears is the so called 'free drip method'.
'Geloven in seks' ('Believing in sex')... Some people believe in the existence of moon bears. Other people believe in sex. We lost that religion long time ago. Sex is dead.
Maybe our frame of reference is slightly out of focus, but the light effects we saw were often spacier than at techno parties like Awakenings. Festival host Manuel Venderbos was in the zone. He consequently called God 'a designer' and attached that metaphor to the comforting statement that it really isn't necessary to wear designer clothing to be popular. A statement like this really takes some weight off your shoulders when you are walking around wearing cheap swimming pants and a sweaty AC/DC-shirt. Venderbos also stated that it doesn't matter 'whether you are negro, gay or Chinese'. Still we didn't last long, since the bar maids in the press room weren't allowed to serve us alcoholic drinks. We went back outside again to get drunk on God's love. And guess who we met there?
[foto balkenende met mcdonalds gast]
Now we finally saw our (former) PM Jan-Peter Balkenende from up close, we know for sure this guy isn't real. Balkenende is a marketing trick, resulting from a collaboration between Disneyworld, Playmobil and the CDA (his Christian Democratic Party). You probably already know something about the symbolical meaning of the golden arches in the M of McDonald's. In fact, it's very simple: the M stands for Messiah. I'm loving Him.
[foto cda pepermunt]
We found this lying in between Balkenende's legs. We believe it was peppermint, a form of merchandise for his Christian Democratic Party. Of course, with the parliamentary elections in sight, the other political leaders couldn't stay behind. They too hurried themselves to the Evangelical Youth Day.
[foto politiek debat in boksring]
This photo isn't overexposed at all. These politicians are Enlightened. Social democrat Ronald Plasterk (on the far left) and liberal Boris van der Ham (bald guy next to him) witness a miracle. That is, for the first time in their political careers, they are not forced to dance around on a pink boat floating in the Amsterdam canals at the Gay Parade to show off their politically correct engagement with the gay community. Miraculously, they find themselves politically 'battling' in a boxing arena built by the Evangelical Broadcasting Association on the parking lots next to a football stadium.
[foto silent disco]
Oh yeah, silent disco is here to stay (has it ever been gone at all?). God is a DJ.
[foto eenzame man met oranje ballon]
Sometimes a subscript is superfluous. This is the case when you see a picture of a small, lonely man carrying an orange balloon, who walks past an image of cute African boys, while one of them makes an historically unfortunate arm gesture. See for yourself:
[foto hitlergroet afrikaantje]
[foto van tobias de alto]
[foto lisanne met christen3dbril]
[foto gast met verband om zn voet]
Vice: Hey man, what happened with your foot?
I overstretched a muscle while playing futsal. I kind of played too rough.
Do you pray sometimes?
Not so much, lately. Mistakes are made within the leadership of the Church and I still feel a little bitter about that. I think it is important to be allowed to have your own view on things. Sometimes I also tell jokes to God. And sometimes He laughs about them.
[foto jesus is my homeboy gast met vreemd koppel op achtergrond]
There is only one day left on which you can come away with wearing a _Jesus is my homeboy_-shirt. That day is the Evangelical Youth Day. At least, that's what the guy in the background was telling his girlfriend. Or daughter. Or mother. Father?
[foto optreden hawk nelson met vlammen]
Check out those flames. Bands like Kiss or Metallica already played the Gelredome, but they can't compete with the Christian punckrocking sillies of Canadian origin Hawk Nelson. In the press handout we read about them: 'Who on earth calls his band after a skating hero and a local shoemaker (Tony Hawk + Nelson's Boot Repair)? They are wayward and funny, but also full of love for Jesus. You really need to get to learn Hawk Nelson and taste them a little in order to understand them.'
[foto met hawk nelson]
There was nothing in the world we would do rather than 'get to learn and taste' Hawk Nelson. That's why we sneaked into their press conference. On the question how they deal with heavy obstacles in life they started talking about their merchandising that didn't make it to Holland due to logistical problems. 'But we are here!' After the press conference, there was the opportunity to take pictures. Your reporter can be found in the middle. As you can see nobody took Eric Cartman's advice for a successful Christian band photo: never ever look into the camera.
PHOTOS AND OVERALL ASSISTENCE (INCLUDING MORAL SUPPORT) MARLON VAN WICHEN