Sunday 4 March 2007

People in church

“Why do people in church seem like cheerful, brainless tourists on a packaged tour of the Absolute? … Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us to where we can never return.”

—Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters (New York: Harper & Row, 1982), pp. 40-41.


::aaron g:: said...


Michael Westmoreland-White, Ph.D. said...

I echo Chris Enstad. It hasn't appeared on any bulletin, but I have heard it quoted in at least one call to worship in our church.

It should be inscribed on altars and above Sunday School room doors.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is a brilliant quote, isn't it? Occasionally I do something like it for a call to worship.

A sign over the door of the church would be great. Something like:

"Abandon ease all who enter here", or

"Make sure your will is in order before entering", or

"Worship can seriously damage what you think is your health".

(One could go on.)

Thanks, Ben

John P. said...

I love dillard...although, my first introduction to her work was not 'Teaching a Stone.' In an intro to religious studies course as an undergrad we had to read her 'For the Time Being.'

if you have never read that small book, i highly recommend it. It is her own theodicy of sorts (if you can even call it that). In it ar some of the most provocative lines of theology written by a non-theologian.

Guy Davies said...

Great quote!

Anonymous said...

"everything is growing green and clean" -Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

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