Wednesday, September 9, 2009


If I ever retire, one of the things I’ll never attend again is the church potluck.

For one thing, I seem to be the only one qualified to pray over the food before we start. It doesn’t matter if I’m with someone who has just revealed he is suicidal, someone will interrupt, grab my arm and say, “Preacher, it’s time for the prayer!” As if a fire broke out in the fellowship hall.

Am I the only person who can do this? I can hear the grumbling: “What are we paying him for then?”

I always go last through the line because, contrary to most church claims, there’s not always enough food. Someone always notices when I haven’t gone through the line and will exclaim, “You better get something to eat!” with the same anxiety of someone begging me to get my swine flu vaccination.

Others take inventory on what I put on my plate--what it is, how much of it there is, what I didn’t get, and how much of it I didn’t finish.

And what would these people do for humor if they couldn’t tease the preacher on how much he ate? “Got enough there, preacher?” (Ha ha). “How many servings have you had?” (Ha ha).

I’ve spent the morning with this crowd. I’ve played with the children, laughed at lame religious jokes, hugged those who are crying, taught a Sunday school lesson, sung a song, arbitrated the latest conflict, smiled in the face of a tacky criticism, preached a sermon, shaken hands with everyone, and made sure the air/heat is working.

Do I have to eat with these people, too? Yes, but only until I retire.

I know it sounds ugly. Even petty. After all, Jesus ate with the people, but he was a better sport than I am—besides, he got to have wine with his meal.


  1. At the wedding rehearsal dinner I went to last month they asked the priest to say the blessing. Mind you, I doubt anyone would have said any kind of blessing if he wasn't around. I've always hated the distance people put between themselves and men and women of the cloth. We're all just human beings after all.

  2. I find it charming for some reason the way that the figure of the priest persists in people's minds. Not just any one can offer the sacrifice or perform the magic trick that turns bread into a godman's body. And the priest really must be holier than all others in his every action.

    These attitudes are still formally institutionalized and perpetuated in Roman Catholicism of course. It's so interesting to see how attitudes of the same basic structure survive in the anti-priest Protestant mind too.

  3. Don't you know? It's because of the religious hierarchy...since you're at the top of the prayer chain for whom god listens to, it HAS to be you. If any of the others do it and you're there, then it doesn't count.

    Didn't Jesus say something about it not mattering what goes into the mouth but what comes out of it? So what difference does it make to bless the meal if they're still going to bad mouth each other. I hated those dreaded words "I'm tell you this in Christian Love..."


    Next time someone comes up to you to ask for the blessing, put your hand on that person's shoulder and say god loves you as much as he loves me and he wants YOU to say the blessing...
    ...and when you're dishing out the food, lick the serving spoon for each one then put it back. Bet they won't ask you to come to too many potlucks then...

  4. Yeah, CG, lick the spoon. It's not any worse than drinking from the Eucharist goblet after 30 other people (and then you-the-priest get to down the rest of it, which I'm told is, by that time, about 90% saliva). I'm just saying this in Christian Love.

    C.W.H.--I've got to check out your site. If it's as interesting as your comments here, I don't wanna miss something like that.


  5. Hey thanks Jaguar, if you stop by be sure to explore the recommended posts down the right hand column for my ideas stuff. I hope you find some things you like and to get your thoughts.

  6. CWH--Saw your site yesterday before reading above comment. Incredible. I'll study the right column more closely this weekend. I'm an honest theist, you're an honest atheist. I sense a rare and interesting dialogue coming from this, which we can pursue on your site instead of using any further space on CG's. You'll be hearing from me. Jaguar

  7. Wonderful, Jaguar, I look forward to hearing from you more!

  8. at the Unitarian- universalist affairs where a potluck was held there is usually more than enough food. the clergy just has to join the line with everyone else, no blessing required. uu clergy get no special treatment.