Tis the season...
For those of you who may be requested to attend church service with relatives, I offer the following:
The man who lets it be known that he is religious is in a strong life position. There is one basic rule. It is: go one better. Fenn went too far. This is his method—in his own words:
To take the most ordinary instance, the simple Sunday churchgoer. “Are you coming to church with us?” my host says. It is a little country church, and my host, Moulton, who has some claims to be a local squire, wants me to come, I know, because he is going to read the lesson. He reads it very well. He enjoys reading it. I heard him practising it to himself immediately after breakfast.
“Yes, why don’t you come to church for once, you old sinner?” Mrs. Moulton will say.
Do not mumble in reply to this: “No, I’m afraid…I’m not awfully good at that sort of thing…my letters…catch post.”
On the contrary, deepen and intensify your voice, lay your hand on her shoulder and say, “Elsa” (calling her by her Christian name for perhaps the first time):
“Elsa, when the painted glass is scattered from the windows, and the roof is opened to the sky, and ordinary simple flowers grow in the crevices of pew and transept—then, and not till then will your church, as I believe, be fit for worship.”
Not only does this reply completely silence opponent; but it will be possible to go out and win ten shillings on the golf course, come back very slightly buzzed from Sunday pre-lunch drinks, and suggest, by your direct and untroubled look, before which their glance may actually shift, that your host and hostess, however innocently, have only been playing at religion.
- Stephen Potter
-via Crooked Timber