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Feather's Miscellany: Some Parsonic Tales

Anglican priest John Waddington-Feather demonstrates that “gentlemen of the cloth’’ have a keen sense of humour.

To read more of John’s hugely entertaining stories and articles please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/feathers_miscellany/

As an Anglican priest, I’ve always enjoyed harmless jokes against parsons, ministers and their ilk. We in the church need balances and checks, otherwise another Inquisition might be spawned. We need to be brought down to earth like other people, such as politicians, bankers or lawyers, who have great responsibilities and privileges running our society. It’s so easy to turn privilege into exploitation, and where abuse is happening, humour and satire are often the best means of exposing wrongs and bringing the wrong-doers to account. But enough preaching and now to three of my favourite tales about church ministers.

There was once a rich Anglican church-warden who’d been very successful in business; so successful that by the time he was middle-aged he was a multi-millionaire, and had his own private light aircraft and pilot to fly him around. One year he was holidaying in Hawaii and flying his plane to another small island in the Pacific, when suddenly the engine cut out and the plane had to be ditched near a tiny island miles from anywhere.

The pilot managed to land the plane safely in the sea very close to the islet which was miles from any inhabited islands and off the beaten track. The pilot was desperate and in a panic asked his boss what they could do; and he couldn’t understand at all why his boss was so nonchalant about their plight. He stood there leaning against a solitary palm looking calmly out to sea as if he hadn’t a care in the world.

“Sir,” cried the pilot, “why are you so calm and unconcerned when we might starve to death?”

“Have faith, my friend,” came back the reply.

“Faith!” wailed the other. “At a time like this!”

“All will be well,” said the magnate. “You see, I put £1,000 each Sunday in the church collection.”

“So what?” said the pilot. “How will that help us now?”

“Somehow, the vicar will find us,” came back the simple reply.

My second tale is about the young son of a parson , who Sunday after Sunday, had to listen to his father preaching in church. One day, he went into his father’s study as he was preparing the next Sunday’s sermon.

His father thought it might be a good idea to see how he wrote his sermons, how he practised his faith, how much thought and effort he put into his sermons, so he let him stay looking on in silence till he’d finished writing.

When the parson had done he sat back and collected his sermon together; then looked down benignly at his son, who seemed rather puzzled.

“Dad,” he asked, “how do you know what to write?”

“Well, my boy,” his father began piously, “first I pray to God, then I begin writing what He tells me.”

Looking more puzzled than ever, his son said:” Then how come you keep crossing things out?”

And perhaps in the son’s perplexity there is a message for us all.

Finally, there is the old story about the evangelical minister who was a strict teetotaller. Anything to do with alcohol was anathema and he even had non-alcoholic beverage at Communion. But for all his sermonising in church, the choir-master remained a tippler, so one day he preached a sermon on abstinence especially for his choir-master’s benefit.

“If I had control of all the beer in the world,” he began, “do you know what I’d do with it? I’d take the lot and throw it in the river. And if I was able to do what I wanted with all the wine and whisky in the world, I’d do likewise – throw it into the river!”

However, great was his consternation when he’d finished his sermon and the choir-master stood up to announce the next hymn – with a distinct twinkle in his eye.
“The next hymn is number 385 – ‘Shall we all gather by the river side.”

All three humorous stories, with perhaps a grain of truth in each one.

John Waddington-Feather ©


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