Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmastime with the Cultists

Yesterday, with friends and family in tow, we went a-wandering over to a restaurant that's been opened up in my parent's neighborhood.  For decades, the place was my families' primary haunt for pizza, a little place run by a couple of Greeks.  

The day I went to see the first Star Wars movie with my parents, we ate out at Prima Pizza.  We were regulars.  My folks got to know the owners and the waitresses.  It was pleasant.

But then it closed, as businesses do.  It sat empty for years.

A year or two ago, a little vegan place opened up there.   It's a Loving Hut, one of several hundred franchises around the world run by...well...a cult.  It's the Cult of Supreme Master Ching Hai, who is apparently always referred to as SupremeMasterChingHai, all one word.  She's a bleached-blonde Vietnamese lady who is really into enlightenment, animals, and a vegan diet, and who apparently has gathered quite the following.

In order to run one of the franchises, you need to be a member in good standing of suprememasterchinghai-ism, or whatever it is they call it.

But vegetarian food is vegetarian food, so we went to check it out.   Prima Pizzeria was once again a restaurant, basically, although a bit different.  The decor was spare, and there was a big screen TV on one wall presenting Supreme Master Television, a chirrupy 24 hour channel of positive thinking, happy animals, vegetarian boosterism, and teaching of Supreme Master Ching Hai.

Outside of that, it was surprisingly innocuous.  And the food was really rather tasty.

Most striking to me, though, was what the cultists were playing in the background.

It wasn't a droning, barely audible repetition of the words "Ching Hai is your master, you love Ching Hai, you love vegetables and puppies and kittens, Ching Hai is the Supreme Master..."

It was a medley of Christmas music.   O Holy Night, in particular, seemed to be a favorite.

There really is no escaping Christmas music this time of year.