Dear Religious Fun-Lovers:

Since it’s time for spring cleaning, I have been rummaging through my “church life” file with its various items on bats in the belfry, skeletons in the closet, and off-key behavior in the choir loft. I’ve again been reminded that man’s pursuit of religion leads not only to his highest accomplishments and lowest degradations but also to some of his most elegant moments of tomfoolery. For distinguished ecclesiastical service in the following unusual but true incidents, four men of the cloth merit special tribute:

• The Rev. Jerry Demetri, for ministerial perseverance. At a funeral service he conducted for a miniskirted seventeen-year-old, a liquor-quaffing crowd of teenagers jostled him, picked his pocket of $112, and wrecked several doors and windows. At graveside, Demetri no sooner had intoned “Dust to dust, ashes to ashes, bury the dead” than the mourners pushed him into the open grave.

• An Anglican priest of Lincoln Cathedral in England, for creative churchmanship. For years his choirboys had enlivened Sunday services by setting off stink bombs—glass phials of sulphurated hydrogen. The parson therefore went to the nearby joke shop that knowingly sold the stink bombs to the choirboys. Ordering a packet, he said to the store owner, “I suppose the inconvenience they cause is no concern of yours.” He then dropped a stink bomb, ground it under his heel, and exited to the smell of rotten eggs.

• The Rev. Christopher Candler, for steadfastness in the face of public pressure. Petitioned by citizens to remove a plaque on a new public restroom that says, “To the glory of God for the needs of man,” he courageously refused. Said he: “We should let everyone know that the Church provides for the needs of man ...

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