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Behind the Lines... Part 3


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Like every Sunday morning, as I drive my wife and kids to church, the dread and loathing rises within me with each nearing mile. As we pull in, I pity the poor houses next to the church. Those houses were there before the church was built. What do they think now?


Parking lot full. Early service must be going overtime. Greaaat. I smile and limply wave at the blurs of people also stalking a parking place. Like I care who they are. They, in their unruffled sunday clothes, toting their bibles, and Stepford smiles. Oh, that's me, too.


Sunday school is first on the agenda. Nothing much to say there. The speaker is a one which I enjoy and like. Dont really care what he has to say, but I like him and will happily give credit to his skills as a teacher. (Previously I ripped into sunday school teacher, but that's a different guy.)


Our church service itself is next. Regular pastor is gone this week. That leaves his stand-in. Good things and bad things about Mr. Stand-in. First, he's a nice fellow, and non-threatening. I know that when he's speaking, I wont be very much challenged, and he probably wont cause me much discomfort. Bad thing--he's not terribly good at speaking, or interesting. He uses cliched arguments, and obvious attempts at manipulation (citing a NDE from a child who saw Jesus, for instance). He does these Paul Harvey-like "rest of the story" anecdotes, but where you can see the punch line coming from miles away--like his first couple sentences. Then you have to sit through it until, "yup, that's what I thought." And the affected emotional whisper, the formulaic near-sob, to let us know something was important, what he just said, in there someplace.


Our normal pastor, as I've said, is an excellent speaker. I wish I had his ability. Listening to him talk is like feasting on a hot cheesy pizza and cold beer. Mr Stand-in pales in comparison--he reminds me so much of eating the cardboard pizza-box with warm water.


Prior to the service beginning, Pastor Stand-in made the rounds shaking hands. Near me sat a couple who I dont know, I heard them talking to Stand-in about their grand-daughter. From what I gathered, she's been missing, but has now turned up safe and sound somewhere. Good news? No, not entirely. "She's with Satan now", you see.


Now comes the singing part of the service. I stand up, but never sing. I like to turn and see who else might not be singing, and there are a lot of us men who refuse to do that. I dont have a singing voice, but I sometimes have been willing to go along, and sing a song, sometimes. However, they never stop at one song. It's song after song after song. I cannot last that long! The real killer, the thing that really stopped me from ever singing at all even if I'm "fresh" are those Invitations, where someone actually comes up to receive christ or talk to preacher. You know what happens there dont you? We start the song over and sing as long as someone is up there crying to the pastor. Damn! Dont these people realize what a burden they are? (Just kidding). I used to love "Just as I am", until one day, we sang that about 16 verses long. I now have a real aversion to that song. Pavolivian reaction even, only it's not drooling that occurs to me.


Among others sung on 9/25, was some song, the name was ignored at the time, so I dont know it, but it goes like this:


This is the air I breathe....




I'm desperate for you!

I'm lost without you!




Honestly, that song is so slavish and love-dovey, it just goes over the top in my mind. It sounds like you're singing to a lover, not the creator of the world and the war-god of Joshua. I'm sure God's up there going, "Stop it! Get your tongue OUT OF my mouth already!"


As Stand-in was preaching, I imagined, or HOPED, others were as unimpressed as I was. I hate to be the only perfect standard of what is right you know. However, in front of me, sat a female visitor, who nodded approvingly as he went on and on. Maybe this woman couldn't see the punch line coming?


Sigh. Oh well. It's lonely being perfect.

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Bongo, I'm probably not the first to tell you this, but you can write man. I love your style.


Meanwhile, each of these posts has me cringing for you. Surely this is building up to some sort of Dr. Philean "get real" moment. I don't see how you can sit through this for the next 20 or 30 years. Even so, I think I understand the position you're in.

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Always entertaining read, Mr Bongo. But I missed part 2 .. have to go back and find it...

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I'm sure God's up there going, "Stop it! Get your tongue OUT OF my mouth already!"


The imagery is exquisite...and hilarious!

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One good thing about Mo. Synod Lutheran churches -- you only sang each song once, and there was no going up to receive invitations or anything like that during church. But we had plenty of boring preachers with cliche'd sermons.

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Vigile, I've never watched Dr Phil--i presume that's what you mean, so I can only guess about the "get real" moment. Ever seen Mad TV? There's a reoccuring character--repulsive filthy rich hollywood mogul who is always saying "Come on!" to his powerless assistants. Cracks me up. I think a good "Come on!" would fit the situation too!


And thanks, Vigile. But I'm not nearly as inspired while writing on other subjects. Perhaps at last I've found the "gift" I can use at church?



Han, here's the "part 2"


But you saw it because you did comment--thanks!


and here's "part 1"



I know, I need to come up with a naming scheme if I keep this up.


Ex-Cog: (Great name, btw), I always liked the old timey hymms. How great thou art, It is well with my soul (goosebumps), and such. Personal Preference here, but this newy christian stuff like Amy Grant, and the song I quoted, just has always bothered me. It's like they want to make love to Jesus, for Christ's sake! (just had to throw that one in :HaHa: )

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