Saturday 14 January 2006

On the virtue of heckling preachers

This morning my family decided to visit a quaint little Protestant church down the road. We’ve never been there before—and I don’t think we’ll be back any time soon. The preacher spoke on the beatitude, “blessed are the meek.” And to my great surprise, he spent half the sermon praising Ian Paisley as a model of the Christian virtue of meekness.

Anywhere else, the crowd might have heckled him. And I reckon it’s unfortunate that there’s no tradition of Christian heckling. We should have booed and jeered. We should have thrown fruit. It would have done everyone a world of good: the preacher would have been held accountable for his words, and the congregation would have taken a stand for humanity.

But instead we all sat in silence, our hands folded meekly in our laps.


Jim said...

That's because preaching is no loger Verbum Dei, but something much less and therefore without significance.

T.B. Vick said...

Is Ian Paisly the European "fundie" type guy who is extremely anti-Catholic and is part of the Free-Presbyterian Church?

(Excuse me if I seem a little ignorant here)

Anonymous said...

That's the guy, t.b. vick.

Using Paisley as a model of meekness is rather like pointing to the Hunchback of Notre Dame as an example of good posture.

You know the apocryphal story about Paisley preaching on the agonies of hell, "where there will be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth."
A little old man at the back of the church exclaimed, "But Dr. Paisley, I don't have any teeth."
Paisley thundered back, "Teeth will be provided!"

Ben Myers said...

I agree, Jim, with your diagnosis: if we really believed that the purpose of preaching was to announce the Word of God, then we would be much more upset by preachers who merely announce their own trivial (or even wicked) political and ideological opinions.

I guess that's why no one did heckle the guy this morning: we weren't really expecting to hear the "voice of the Shepherd", so we weren't particularly shocked when instead we heard the "voice of a stranger".

Michael F. Bird said...

I hope it wasn't FL Presbyterian Chuch! I thought Paisley's idea of ecumenical relations was for the UDR to kill all the Catholics.

Anonymous said...

While the restraint shown by you and the rest of the congregation was an exemplary model of the virtue of meekness, Paisley wouldn't know meek if he fell over it. If you had all behaved like him you would have yelled at the preacher "I denounce you Anti Christ" as Paisley yelled at the Pope, or "I will kill all who get in my way" as he did after a loyalist rally at some reporters.

I don't think I could have been as virtuous as you. I would have walked out at least. But then I'm just a naughty heretical eighth stater! Te taonga o te Moananui-a-Kiwa!!

existentialist said...

What church do you regularly attend?

One of Freedom said...

I am blessed with a congregation that loves to heckle me :-). That is one of the virtues of small congregational settings - you get lots of interaction. The closest I've come to heckling was once I was visiting this holiness church with a friend and when I wispered a comment to him (also a minister) the preacher berated me from the pulpit. Takes all kinds I guess - I did not return.

tchittom said...

Ben, there's nothing like hearing such schlock from God's pulpit when your soul needed the Word preached and then having to pay the fellow a speaker's fee when it is all done. As a deacon in my last church, I can think of several occasions when only the moderate hand of my wife kept me from physically stopping the leaky dam of human musings altogether!

stc said...

I'm with Steph. I wouldn't heckle a preacher, but I would certainly walk out on one. I have done so on a few occasions, when I felt the congregation was being offered a drink from a poisoned well.

Not often. Only once or twice, when the situation really demanded a small gesture of protest.

byron smith said...

I realise I'm joining this discussion well after the horse has bolted (alas for the ephemerality of blogging), but I've heard that it's an offense to 'disrupt a religious service'. Any lawyers who can confirm or deny this? Though I also vaguely remember that in Scotland during the Reformation, that there were chairs thrown at preachers during some services.

michael jensen said...

They were stools Byron, stools. But not the Anglican three-legged variety...

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