Brief debriefs

Here are three reactions for posterity after various church visits.

After the middle-aged “Bible” class at “Athens” Church:

If that was text study, I can see why the younger people wanted something different and started their own discussion group.  I wish I’d found a different class upon walking in the door.  But then there was the assembly proper (beginning with the third of the three triple whammies described here) and that would’ve put me into a spiritual fit, anyway.

After “Bible” class at “Western Farms” Church

If some people weren’t so insistent on continuing to talk in order to prove they know something they don’t know after all, God might be able to speak through the text.  (But, boy, was I pleasantly surprised and gratified when the sort-of-teacher’s-helper came to me as I left the room and thanked me for bringing him “back to the Bible” in my 2-minute comment toward the end of class.  [Sorry if that comes off as boastful. I mean mostly to call attention to a little oasis in this particular desert.  Once in a while I need to remind myself of a tad bit of personal worth.])

After Creektown Church’s “singing”:

Most churches fall somewhere between mildly disappointing and stultifying in many activities.  The singing aspect of this church’s gathering, experienced for a grand total of five minutes this very morning, didn’t come anywhere close to either of those.  It wasn’t even embarrassing.  It was an utter travesty, and doubly so because no one seemed to be aware of how bad it was.

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Did that make any sense?  Didn’t think so.  The singing at this place was like that:  nonsense.  The reasonable-quality gospel song sung from a poor-quality hymnal should have been familiar to at least half the people in the room, but the “leader” had not a fraction of a clue.  This was not your garden-variety obtuse or relatively unskilled leader.  This was like a paraplegic in a relay race or a short-order cook negotiating a nuclear treaty with the dictator of a 2nd-world communist country.  “Face to Face” ended up sung to a mixed-up, bad-form version of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” and believe me, no one intended that—or registered a quizzical look when it happened.  It was melodically confused and harmonically chaotic.  The next song, the Gaither favorite “He Lives,” began in at least three different keys with equal melodic confusion.  And no one even seemed aware.  And that in itself should be embarrassing.  Maybe I should have left out the 2nd half of this paragraph.  Nah.


I have purposefully avoided identifying any of the three churches with its actual name; no human soul will be able to figure out the actual name of more than one of them, and I can think of only one person at one of these churches that has even a remote chance of seeing this post.  The point is certainly not to make anyone feel bad.  I mean mostly to blow off steam, I suppose . . . although it would probably be advisable for a good number of my readers to stand back at their churches to measure the purposefulness, effectiveness, and quality of various aspects.

Maybe you have some influence where you are?

B. Casey, 12/11/16

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6 thoughts on “Brief debriefs

  1. navcad56Bob Lewis-CWP member 12/12/2016 / 12:49 pm

    Thanks, Brian. You do have a way with words! But, I can certainly relate to the experience, in principle, which is one reason I have been so delinquent in personally associating with a local fellowship.

    My problem, for sure…

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    • Brian Casey 12/12/2016 / 10:14 pm

      Bob, sometimes I’m not sure why we keep trying. A friend we conversed with a week ago is a more gregarious, gracious sort, and I think she has a tough time relating to the struggles some of us have with church stuff. We try to accept, or figure out how much we can tolerate for the sake of the potential good….

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  2. Brian Casey 12/12/2016 / 9:54 pm

    Via Facebook:
    Edward Wilson: I guess it is pretty hard to worship when you just can’t shut off the analytical voices in your head. I have to admit getting distracted by those types of thoughts, too, but my analytical/critical voices are not as strong as yours.

    Brian Casey” Voices. Yeah, I guess so, a lot of the time. But really, there was no analysis at work yesterday in the moment (and not much if any in the other two cases), and not that much after the fact, either. During the so-called singing, it was not necessary in any sense to analyze, and I was not exaggerating in the slightest. The sung tune really bore only about a 20% resemblance to the written one, and everyone was staring at the hymnals. (Arguably, the resemblance could be that strong in almost any arbitrary pairings of two random hymns or gospel songs.)

    Mine was an elementary, even primal reaction that I think any sane fourth-grader would have had on a simpler level — although it obviously takes on a cloak of vehement objection when I talk or write about it after the fact.

    I wonder what you or Carol would have done in this room .. . . maybe listen for a few seconds to try to figure out what was going on, then stutter out a few notes, then realize what you thought was going on had stopped and another tune had inserted itself … then listen again for 20 seconds, then try again, having no idea whether to try to take over the whole thing in a mercy-usurping . . . or maybe it would better to speak out loudly and ask them to stop and restart? … or just bow your head and try to ignore it (until the next song attempt was almost as bad).

    I doubt you ever heard anything like this. I never had, and I’ve been around about as much as you, I suppose.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Brian Casey 12/13/2016 / 7:05 am

      Edward Wilson: When that has happened in the past, we just excepted the different tune word combination and sang along as best we could. It is always interesting when a set of words is sung to different tunes in the song leader accidentally picks the wrong one out of the book. Then if he read the musical little, he gets partway through and realizes what happened and is in an awkward situation.

      Me: Ed, I do know you’ve traveled and lived in various places and have a few years on me, but I think you must’ve missed the descriptor “mixed-up, bad-form version” before “What a Friend.” As best I recall, that tune was recognized by the rhythm and about half of the melodic contour of the first 7 notes of some phrases, and the “Do thy friends despise, forsake thee” part was altogether absent because, This was not a simple case of being unaware of which “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or “Glory Be” tune was printed on that page — or even using a completely different, known tune by mistake. It was a nonsensical, unpredictable non-tune that various people were making even more chaotic by singing other non-tunes.

      It was quite impossible to “sing along,” because there was nothing to sing along with, so any attempt added to the several strands of chaos vying vainly for viability.

      Although I admit the capacity to exaggerate sometimes, here, I am not exaggerating out of general, minor frustration with poor phrasing or a missed note or even bad rhythm or the oh-so-common skipped beats here & there. This really was quite the unique experience. it was a “new thing under the sun.” Do you believe me yet? 🙂

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  3. Brian Casey 12/12/2016 / 10:10 pm

    Via Facebook:
    Tony A. Mowrer I find it difficult to not analyze things such as this, especially musical considerations. Reading your reflections, Brian, I am constantly reminded of how blest I am to worship where we do, including, but not limited to our use of instruments. This Sunday, our worship will be a “Lessons and Carols” including three newly composed pieces for our choir. We start at 9:30, 8:30 if you want to sit in the choir and rehearse a little!

    Me: Tony, with you leading, I would just about fly out and would surely enjoy the time spent! I played British baritone in a Lessons and Carols liturgy a week ago but had to rush off to a another rehearsal so didn’t hear what came after. This was in a setting much less spiritually conducive for me. As for analyzing, Ed more naturally analyzes in his fields of study (medicine, forestry, and metallurgy!), and I know he understands why we can’t keep from analysis at times, too. (But really, you would had to have been there to believe how nonsensical those sounds were.)

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