Sunday, 22 January 2012

Thought Picnic: This is really heckling in church

The nuisance of mobiles


Just over a week ago, just as the New York Philharmonic were concluding Mahler’s Ninth Symphonic a mobile phone went off with its iPhone Marimba ring-tone and it became such a nuisance that the conductor stopped the orchestra to get the culprit to check and stop that ringing. [NYTimes]
The view is conductors rarely ever stop an orchestra in flow but this warranted an extraordinary action. Now, it is to be expected that when we go in to attend performances at the theatre or watch films at the cinema that people silence their phones not to constitute a nuisance and affect the enjoyment of others including themselves during the show.
There have been instances where actors have called out to people to switch off their phones in the middle of a performance though I have not heard of any occasion where such a culprit has been asked to leave the premises, but that I feel should eventually become the norm for the purposes of showing such recklessness and indifference will not be condoned in public.
Multilingualism in church
When I attend an event, I very much want to concentrate on the purpose of the event than be distracted by other attendees whose enthusiasm appears to override the social necessity to be decorous in polite company.
Nothing is as annoying as to be heckled by miscreants in the audience whatever their gripe to the discomfort of others.
My church is a young vibrant church, we can be exuberant and loud especially in the singing and the applause – it comes with the territory. There are people who dance, some jump though I have not seen anyone do cartwheels or somersaults yet, such will not be out of place for the part of the programme that will accommodate such expression.
Having stood before a church to speak before, I can understand the difficulties in maintaining flow if for every sentence spoken there is need for interpretation, my pastors are experts at this, they never skip a beat.
I was however amused with context and translation this morning when the call to prayer in Dutch had the words “U bent Heer” that the interpreter, bless his wonderful heart interpreted as “You are here” when I really think in context of the prayer what was meant was “You are Lord”. You can imagine that if native Dutch speakers mishear each other, those of us who are by no means word perfect have no chance – it did bring a wry smile to my face as this was repeated twice. It goes to show how “hier” (here) and “heer” (Lord) can be confused, then again, I might be wrong.
What we expect elsewhere
If I were to attend a lecture and for every valid point the lecturer made that sounded profound there was someone loudly acknowledging those points, I am sure the lecturer might at one point for all the compliments to his views be inclined to advise the person to be quiet and show their appreciation at the end of the lecture.
If in secular settings we maintain a modicum of consideration and behavioural adjustment with respect to people speaking to an audience it is disconcerting that church allows an almost unforgivable level of levity that is quite distracting that it can almost be considered heckling.
Speakeasy at church
I have sat through many a sermon in my church and had my attentiveness seriously disrupted by such interruptions, there are times during the preaching that certain things are said where a majority of the attendance at church interacts and responds, those are quite understandable, however, where every single sentence elicits a vocal egging on as if we are in some speakeasy environment one is caught between maintaining the peace and wanting to once and for all shut that person up.
Such was the feeling I had this morning and I am sure there were many more in church who felt just the same. In a church of a few hundred people one person cannot singularly be the most engaged and responsive to the preacher beyond everyone else that we are so annoyingly inconvenienced with the equivalent of for the purposes of churchianity – cat calls – because in any other setting, that is what they are – unnecessary, over-exuberant and inconsiderately selfish expressions of agreement with the preacher without the temperance of social graces to recognise that the setting is there for more than just the overly receptive attendee.
Something has to give
If this matter is not curtailed as it begins to irk at the level of the high-decibel grunts of female tennis players, there will be one almighty disruption of a sermon just like the conductor stopped the orchestra to deal with the ringing mobile phone hopefully to put an end to this situation.
I love my fellow church members, we are all there for reasons of fellowship and communion, but let no person use their liberty to create a stumbling block for others. I had better let my pastor read this because I am sure; I am not the only one who is beginning to feel quite strongly about this.

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