Tuesday, July 27, 2010

honest opinions

I came across this commentary as I was reading Anthony Trollope's Barchester Towers.  Although it was written in the 1850's, I suppose its point of view is just as valid today.  It's hard to stomach, but one that a preacher surely needs never to forget.  I wonder for how many the tedium from the preaching clergyman is the reason they feel "forced to stay away" from church.  Probably many.  I know I often grow weary of hearing myself in the pulpit.  What I also find interesting, on another level, is the professions to which the preaching clergyman are compared in this paragraph:

"There is, perhaps, no greater hardship at present inflicted on mankind in civilised and free countries, than the necessity of listening to sermons.  No one but a preaching clergyman has, in these realms, the power of compelling an audience to sit silent and be tormented.  No one but a preaching clergyman can revel in platitudes, truisms, and untruisms, and yet receive, as his undisputed privilege, the same respectful demeanor as though words of impassioned eloquence, or persuasive logic, fell from his lips.  Let a professor of law or physic find his place in a lecture-room, and their pour forth jejune words and useless empty phrases, and he will pour them forth to empty benches.  Let a barrister attempt to talk without talking well, and he will talk but seldom.  A judge's charge need be listened to per force by none but the jury, prisoner, and gaoler.  A member of Parliament can be coughed down or counted out.  Town-councillors can be tabooed.  But no one can rid himself of the preaching clergyman.  He is the bore of the age, the old man whom we Sinbads cannot shake off, the nightmare that disturbs our Sunday's rest, the incubus that overloads our religion and makes God's service distasteful.  We are not forced into church!  No: but we desire more than that.  We desire not to be forced to stay away.  We desire, nay we are resolute, to enjoy the comfort of public worship; but we desire also that we may do so without an amount of tedium which ordinary human nature cannot endure with patience; that we may be able to leave the house of God without that anxious longing for escape, which is the common consequence of common sermons."

Yikes.  And yet too true, I fear.

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