Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Let us pray that vicars stop telling jokes in sermons

From The Guardian-

Arecent poll has found that churchgoers hate the vicar’s jokes. Well, let’s hope the message gets through. Because there is nothing more excruciating than the lame stories that clergy tell, mostly as warm-ups at the beginning of their sermons. I would end up fleeing down the road to the local mosque if Dawn French became my vicar. No, I wouldn’t agree with them theologically, but at least they would adopt an appropriate seriousness of mood that would allow me properly to think and pray. And please don’t get me started on vicars using puppets in the pulpit. I’d bring back the inquisition for that. The Venerable Jorge had the right idea in Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose: some comedy just doesn’t work in church. Church is a serious house on serious Earth. And, ultimately, people go for serious purposes.

It is not that all humour fails. Take Dr Paisley, for instance, a master of pulpit wit. Now, in order to get this one you have to hear it in his strong Northern Irish accent. One Sunday, Dr Paisley was preaching about death and damnation, one of his favorite subjects. “There will be weeping,” he thundered, “and wailing and gnashing of teeth.” An elderly lady on the front row stuck up her hand and objected that she didn’t actually have any teeth. Dr Paisley fixed her with a withering gaze: “Madam,” he said slowly, “teeth will be provided.” I love the idea of the Almighty handing out replacement dentures to those not able to gnash.

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