Thursday, July 10, 2008

Twit disguises himself as priest to fool congregation

Say what you like about the Daily Mail — or what you don't like — but it never fails to provide material for an amateur satirist such as your blogger.

Here's today's installment:

Priest disguises himself as a tramp to teach his own churchgoers a lesson

When Reverend Rigby wanted to teach his congregation a lesson about being kind to others he came up with a rather colourful way of demonstrating his point. As the 70 churchgoers turned up for their regular Sunday morning service at the Methodist church in Prestatyn, north Wales they found a scruffy tramp sitting in the church porch. Stinking of beer and dressed in filthy clothes, the disgusted churchgoers did their best to ignore him as they filed past. This task was made even harder when the unwanted guest joined them on the pews, surrounded with syringes and drinking from a can of lager.

‘It was interesting to see the reaction from people - I was totally ignored. It showed that we don’t recognise God at work and in each other.’

He said: "In other places I was given as much as £4.50, a packet of biscuits and a blanket - but in Prestatyn I got nothing. ‘I told the congregation they are a stingy lot. Everyone was amazed and later complimented me on my acting skill, though some said I had made them feel terrible.’

Let's examine the moral implications of this stunt.

Reverend Rigby believes that the churchgoers should not have reacted with distaste to a "scruffy tramp" sitting on the porch of their house of worship. They should have looked through his earthly form and seen the God within. But, being a "stingy lot," they failed to immediately shower him with love and money.

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The priest is right to this extent: all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. However far we stray — and certainly there are people who stray a lot farther than the "tramp" — we are all connected with God and perfection, no matter how much we fall into the delusion of believing we are no more than human, or perhaps no more than animals, or machines.

Many good people come to misfortune, are down and out through no fault of their own or even through faults that should not earn them rejection by human society. If the congregation of Prestatyn consists of ordinarily decent people, I'm sure they recognize this.

But that isn't the lesson Reverend Rigby wants to convey. If the article is an accurate account, there seems no other conclusion to draw than that he wants his flock to accept the "tramp's" behavior. Namely, sitting on the porch steps, probably blocking the way in. Smelling like a brewery. And then, sitting in a pew, tossing back the booze, "surrounded with syringes."

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Such a person is expressing contempt for the congregation as well as whatever spiritual presence the church represents. He is quite brazenly spitting in the eye of society, declaring by his actions that he is not bound by even the ordinary conventions of good manners. He is completely indifferent to propriety.

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Reverend Rigby expressing his real identity (above)
and posing as a spiritual leader (below)
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I doubt that all, or even most, of the churchgoers Reverend Rigby ministers to are rich. Some of them probably make sacrifices to be able to put a few bob on the collection plate. They may be no better or worse than the run of us people, but they have enough respect for themselves and each other to know how to behave in church.

So tell me why they should accept a lout in their midst and, in effect, reward him. In fact, the priest tells us they ignored him, which shows considerable forbearance. In another day and time, a couple of beefy men in the congregation would have persuaded the man who was defiling the service to take himself away, with whatever degree of persuasion was necessary.

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Yes, people who have lost their minds, who have destroyed themselves or cannot help themselves do not lose all claim to empathy. In a different setting, in another way, most of the congregation would probably help someone taking the initiative (or at least cooperating) in trying to turn his life around. That, I think, is compatible with what God wants of us.

But to imply that we must tolerate and enable anti-social behavior in the name of compassion is not Christian, is not spiritual, is not virtuous if a society wants its self-destructive citizens and its unfortunates to be something greater than dole collectors. But today's Britain has no higher aspirations for them.

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4 comments:

Terry Morris said...

I've added your article to my "Recommended Blogposts" Rick. I think it's ... spot on.

yih said...

VA recently posted something in the same vein: First, the truth -- then the consequences?.
It's about how all this aid sent to Africa has done way more harm than good. Pulling no punches, it details how ''aid'' has artificially exploded the population there by allowing africans that would not survive otherwise to grow to adulthood and reproduce like mad.
That ''starving african child'' that Sally Struthers whimpered to us to ''save'' has now sired a half dozen waifs who are just as needy.

Rick Darby said...

Terry,

Thanks! Very gratifying.

yih,

I couldn't agree more with VA. In the very short term, the preening, self-congratulating do-gooders can claim to benefit the Africans. In the long run, they are just promoting more misery by ensuring that the number of hungry bellies multiplies faster than ever.

Population stabilization — even reduction — is the key to any real amelioration of conditions in that suffering continent.

Sage said...

Even by his mere appearance, this priest confirms my view of the English as the most contemptibly silly, childish, puerile race of people presently on this earth.