Thursday, May 05, 2022

New Humor Writing. You Thinking Of Joining A Church? Let Me Help You With That.

Anna Earl @ Unsplash
I have a new humor piece up at The Haven. Your Guide To Finding The Perfect Church: By a regular church goer will not help you in your search for spiritual guidance, unless you are fond of coffee. Which, by the way, I am not. But I did run the coffee hour at our church for several months during a two-year period. Gail running coffee hour was not a draw.

This is an interesting piece, because it began life twenty years ago as an essay written for the one graduate course I've taken. It was not a humor piece but a wry, David Sedaris-type essay, with very little about coffee. Well, maybe this is interesting if you're a writer. A writer who writes both essays and humor.

If I ever become an accomplished humor writer, I might use this humor piece and the original essay as some kind of model to explain the difference between the two types of writing. I don't expect that to be happening any time soon. But I can wait.


Diane Cadrain said...

Hi Gail—I saw your comment to Allie Johnston,and that you used the word memere. That caught my attention. I don’t hear that word a lot around here. (I’m half French-Canadian). Allie grew up down the street from my family and is the same age as my daughter Leah.

I also noticed that you have a blog, and I admire your tenacity with keeping it up. I have a blog as part of my website, but I can’t even remember the last time I updated it. Though I do update the website itself, at least the art gallery section.

I also especially noted the blog entry about church. That one hurt. I’m a member of a struggling religious congregation, the Unitarian Society of Hartford. We have experienced setbacks lately, including Covid, and it’s a challenge to keep it going. That makes me sad because the community means a lot to me and my family. Your words about avoiding people at coffee hour because they might recruit you for something…true in some cases, I guess. But if everybody had that attitude, we’d have to close our doors for sure.

Diane Cadrain
Allie’s former neighbor and Leah’s mother.

Gail Gauthier said...

Diane--Thank you so much for coming by. I may have met Leah at some event. As you probably guessed, I am of French Canadian descent, which is where the memere comes from.

I like the word "tenacity." Also, I visited your website. You do lovely work.

As far as "Your Guide to Finding the Perfect Church" is concerned, my humor almost always comes from incongruity. (There is an incongruity theory of humor that I should study up on.) A and F are not related. When they are put together, the incongruity becomes humor. In the case of this church piece, the incongruity comes from the unnamed speaker claiming to be an authority because she's a regular churchgoer, when she makes all too clear that she isn't, and focusing on shallow aspects of every tip she offers--one of them being that the point of announcements is to use them to keep clear of having to do church work.

All the advice she offers has nothing to do with the spiritual aspects of church membership. Which is incongruous. To those of us who are into the incongruity theory of humor, that is funny.

Anonymous said...

Fair enough. Thanks.

Diane Cadrain said...

I guess I missed the tongue-in-cheekiness of your writing. I just read this in the NYT today, which might tell you where I was coming from:

“Many churches are fragile, with attendance far below prepandemic levels; denominations are shrinking, and so is the percentage of Americans who identify as Christian. Forty-two percent of Protestant pastors said they had seriously considered quitting full-time ministry within the past year, according to a new survey by the evangelical pollster Barna, a number that had risen 13 points since the beginning of 2021.”

I was raised Catholic—intensely so. My sister was a nun. I married a Jew, and we chose the Unitarian denomination for our children and for our life together, because Unitarian-Universalism respects what you bring to it and invites you to build your own theology. My husband and I still belong to the same Unitarian Meeting House and we’ve both been in leadership. We’ve suffered since Covid, and the core of the congregation is graying. Those conditions sadden and worry me.

I guess your piece hit a nerve inme, though maybe not the one you intended when you wrote it!

No hard feelings.