Slumper Time Again

What is slumper? It is a coined word for an annual condition. Our August yawn is a cavernous and common symptom of summer—the August disease of middle-class American Christians. Laymen from week to week throughout the summer hear old, old pulpit reruns. Harmony flees church music. The choir is out of tenors, low on basses, and only the altos with nasal twangs have been faithful to stay in church and sing adenoidal anthems to the uninterested congregation.

The flies buzz monotonously around the associate pastor, since the senior pastor has abandoned the fold to bless his drowsy sheep from afar. Three Bible classes have to band together to keep their dozing discussion from drifting into a coma. Zombielike, the ushers show occasional visitors into a sea of bare wood pews, and smile and hand them a bulletin. Behind a thousand glassy eyes there hides a common lament, “Alas, why did we take our vacation in May?…” and in the minds of the sluggish worshipers drift rare fantasies of vans and picnic coolers and beach unbrellas.

“Can it be the Gloria Patri is here already?…” The offering plate goes by with three quarters and two greenbacks, and the finance chairman laments the estate and prays for cooler weather and the beginning of school. Gratefully, the clock at last strikes 12 on Sunday and the church gives up her dead. The sermons abound with threats and scoldings that are concerned with the absentees but fall on the dull lot of the hapless cadavers that do show up. The preacher thunders his judgments, which ring off the bare wood backs of the pew-ocean, and the hollow sounds mesmerize the hapless converts:

• “What if God took off on July 31 and posted a sign on the great white throne, ‘OUT DURING AUGUST’?”

• “Does ...

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