Down to business. Let me talk to you about the Church(es) in general and what and why we do what we do. I shall be concentrating mainly on the western Christian churches because that is where my background originates, but some of this stuff also applies to the other great religions, and probably dozens that have died out in the past. If you’re thinking of starting your own, well hopefully some of this stuff may be of use to you too. Perhaps one could consider writing a ‘Dummies Guide to Designing Religions’ - ha, ha (that’s a joke by the way).
Now I know you have your reservations, particularly if you have even an iota of intelligence or have just taken the odd minute or two to think about the holy teachings of The Good Book(s). Fortunately nearly all of our flock are already convinced; they don’t need to bother with such sordid things as reason or logic. In fact we tell them not to bother - remember what the Catholics did to Galileo?
Peer group pressure does a lot of our work for us too. Nevertheless we employ full time staff and even dress them up in funny costumes to keep everyone convinced that what we tell them is The Truth. The dressing up is very important, as my mentor once said: -
‘The audience believes a clown to be much funnier, if he’s dressed funny.’
We speak funny too. That’s what Latin’s for. Although I must admit to not having mastered it yet which is perhaps why I’ll never become a Bishop. It is a paradox of history that nowadays one needs Latin to be able to relate the words of Jesus - who actually spoke Aramaic and probably thought Latin was just so much gibberish. School kids of today would heartily agree with that. You’d think we’d speak Aramaic wouldn’t you? I guess its either not posh enough, or perhaps it’s just a little too close to actual scripture for comfort - rather like Icarus getting too close to the Sun, or Ken too close to Boris.
The role of the ceremony, particularly the church service, is very important. It helps to dull the minds of our flock (they’re not called sheep for nothing) and to keep their minds away from asking too many searching questions. Through the tediousness of the complex church service we can mesmerize them into an acceptance of The Truth and then there’s also the implied threat that any hint of vacillation would only lead to longer and more complex church services. This is just one example of the frightening power the Church holds over the laity.
That is the reason why we invest so much time and effort into designing weird long ceremonies and having lots of expensive and decorative stuff for people to worship, pray at, set alight or even kiss. We had to stop at licking and chewing because a lot of people spread unsavoury illnesses pretty quickly. Presumably the Good Lord thought that that was just a step too far. Why he simply didn’t tell us God only knows, but you know what he’s like - better ‘a sign misunderstood’ than a ‘message misspelled’.
Besides, grannies don’t look half so dignified when sucking on ‘Christ’s Holy Girdle’ with their false teeth, so we’ve stopped doing that now.
A lot of people find ceremonies a comfort and I must confess that dressing up in vestments that are weird, lacy and vaguely effeminate also gives us clergy a sort of subconscious erotic thrill; especially if you’re celibate and starting to find the old biddies at the front of the congregation uncannily attractive. For underwear I find that sheer nylon against the skin helps keep me stay invigorated and lively, especially if the sermon is long and boring. I know that others prefer ruffles and a few of my colleagues even go for leather thongs - it’s a matter of personal choice. However PVC is not recommended as the sound of squeaking when stepping up to the pulpit tends to startle the sheep.
As you can see we spend a lot of time on ceremonies and attaching meanings to stuff. Its amazing really, how meanings can be attached to anything, from symbols on the church ceiling, to the individual clothes a priest wears, the books he reads from and the order in which he manages to get his sheep to do things. We sometimes make bets as to how many times a priest can make his congregation stand up and sit down during a Sunday service. We get extra points if they start doing it automatically before they’re even asked, but we get bonus points if they can be so confused that half are left standing and half are left sitting - but all are left feeling pretty embarrassed.
Life in the clergy can be tremendous fun.
Well I hope that’s given you just a little glimmer of an insight into some of the complexities of life in the service of the Church, and what and why we do what we do.
Until next time,
Praise The Lord!
The Right Dick Ed.
May God go with you.
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