Do you remember Mad magazine’s ‘snappy answers to stupid questions’? I remember them well because I didn’t think they were very funny. There was one cartoon that showed a man walking from his house to his car with a golf bag and clubs slung over his shoulder. His neighbor was out side doing some yard work and says ‘going golfing?’ There were several choices of Mad’s snappy answers to stupid questions one that I remember was something to the effect of “No I’m going to throw this (insert inflation adjusted number here) dollar set of golf club in the garbage.”
The thing that bothers me about insulting answers to stupid questions is that the questions are not stupid they are friendly. When someone sees you carrying golf clubs and they ask ‘are you going golfing’ what they are really saying is ‘I’m acknowledging your presence. do you want to exchange pleasantries maybe even start a conversation?’ and the insulting response is a way of saying ‘no I’m an asshole, assholes look down on people who try to be nice’. (It could also be that when someone asks a question to which the answer should be obvious that they are just trying to not assume anything. That is good also but it is grist for another mill.)
Similar to insulting answers to stupid questions is the as yet unwritten book ‘mean responses to funeral pleasantries’. Remember those things people used to say that were meant to comfort the bereaved. People don’t say them because they have heard the put-downs. Remember “God loved her so much that he had to have her in heaven with him.” The put-down is ‘So that means God murdered my daughter/wife/mother’. In our atheistic world even ‘he’s in a better place’ is met with ‘no he’s not he’s in this box’. It has gotten so that the only thing you can say is ‘you have my deepest sympathy’. Nothing wrong with that but it is boring. What people have chosen to ignore because it is more fun to be mean is that when people say one of those funeral platitudes what they are really saying is ‘I care about you and I want you to feel better.’ Dear Theophilus, if you are ever tempted to insultingly reject one of those sayings either in public or private just remember that the J in WWJD is for Jesus not Jerk.
I believe that reading between the lines is an important part of Christian living. The assumption behind that statement is that as Christians we will give people the benefit of the doubt. I believe that reading between the lines is also an important part of Bible study. Without trying to read deeper the Bible becomes a legal document that we can abuse in the same way the much criticized Pharisees abused their scripture. To be a good Christian preacher, teacher or even a good Christian layman, you have to be able to delve into scripture and dig out those deep spiritual truths. You need to be good at reading between the lines.
Last night for the zillionth time since we’ve been married my wife complained that I never give her direct answer her questions. We were going to watch a DVD together. I was upstairs in the kitchen waiting for her when I heard her call from the family room, ‘should I wait for you or start now?’ I said ‘I’m coming’ because when she said ‘should I wait…’ I thought she was really saying ‘where are you?’. I don’t know if my wife is typical of most women but I wonder if this is a problem that preachers’ wives have. Preachers are trained to read between the lines and sometimes there is no between the lines. Maybe this is a contributing factor when you hear of preachers getting divorced.
Another force vector pushing pastors toward divorce is that good preachers should be introverts. Nota Bene, I did not say good pastor. A pastor should be an extrovert. Extroverts are energized by being around people. Introverts are already energized by what is going on in their head, when people are added, it is just tiring. An introverted preacher uses his mental activity to think about the Almighty and his scriptures therefore making it more likely he comes up with insightful and inspiring sermons.
As a rule women don’t like living with introverts. They want to be able to talk to their husbands. Maybe we could overcome this by structuring society differently. Maybe if we lived in extended family units so wives always had mothers or sisters to talk to then we introverted husbands would be off the hook – But then again maybe not.
So my message to Christian women is this. Don’t be so quick to marry a preacher. If he is not a very good preacher you will always be moving from small church to small church. if he is very good you may get to be married to a man who is a senior pastor of a large church thereby netting you the income and prestige that goes with it. However you will have to live with a man who is always thinking about how to interpret the Bible and when he does think about you, a lot of what he is going to think is ‘I wonder what she really meant by that’. If you marry a man whose suitability for the ministry is his people skills you will fair better but be warned a lot of people who attend church demand both preaching and people skills from pastors.
Then again, who am I to tell you whom to marry. After all the kinds of guys who become preachers tend to also be nice guys.
Saw this and added it to the post.