Dr. Knudal, one of our correspondents, received his degree in educational psychology for pioneering research in the repressed responses of a captive audience symbolized in sermon doodles. He has collected an initial sample of 64,926 doodles, representing the reactions of some 7,540 doodlers during 985 sermonic episodes. He plans to establish a clinic for the interpretation of doodles, and we submitted this sample for his comment. (The enumeration and notes are his.)

1. Gesture motif. One of the commonest preacher-based doodles. Significant index of character-image. Note mouth formation.

2. Spider webs. Intricate webs, coils, flourishes indicate impression of complexity. Check sermon structure.

3. Traffic warnings. Often sermon-orientated. Express resentment toward blocks in sermonic progress. 3? may be associated with this pattern, but is church location near grade crossing?

4. Ecclesiastical architecture. Usually suggested by church building. Visual exploration of interior is extensive and meticulous—fruitful doodle source.

5. Flower table. May be linked with 4 as interior scene, or with 6 below. Sometimes a doodle of contentment.

6. Hat show. In spite of association with 5, 6b is not an inverted flower pot. Hat contemplation unavoidable for shorter parishioners. See also Robert Burns, “To a Louse, on Seeing One on a Lady’s Bonnet at Church.”

7. Time has run out. Time-lapse doodlery common among sermon listeners. Smoke above 7b suggests fate of dinner in oven. Above smoke is hour glass (or coffee maker?).

8. Neptune? Rare, meaning uncertain. If sample is from the South, this may be a Yankee Doodle.


a. Eliminate flowers, hats, architecture, etc.

b. Eliminate pencils, visitors, cards, hymnal fly-leaves.

c. Eliminate ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.