Monday, 14 May 2012

The Problem with Church Reviews

This is what we know.

Some lady decided that she was sick and tired of her local church, and just plain quit. Then she decided that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to just write up a negative review of the church. Somewhere in the midst of this review…..she decided to use the words “creepy”, “cult” and “spiritual abuse”. Well…as you can imagine, this upset the local minister greatly.

This all took place out in Beaverton, Oregon. I won’t mention the church because it’d just tear up the minister even more to get mentioned in a blog.

So the minister is in courts now….suing this woman and her daughter…..for $500k….over bad reviews via the internet. The concept was….if we already do reviews on bowling alleys, bars, clubs, and stores….why not churches?

I sat and pondered over this. In Bama, it’s an accepted thing for two folks to meet up at the Piggly Wiggly and discuss the Sunday service. Words might be exchanged over a bad script, poor choice of clothing colors for the minister, or choir complaints.

Down the street, there might be a discussion at the local bar over the minister’s speech and if he had figured out eight of the guys were out pretty late at the bar on Saturday night. In Bama, we probably wouldn’t get onto this internet of idea of reviewing churches….because it just means that you might be comparing Reverend Joe against Reverend Karl across the river. That means you might be going between churches, and that just isn’t proper etiquette for a Bama guy. Plus you’d also have to deal with the internet being compared to Satan’s tools.

The other issue is that we’d start to critique various other things: the pew slant, the AC temperature, the tune of the organ, the flushing power of the one and only toilet in the church, the parking lot’s asphalt situation, the burned out lamp over the parking lot, too much emphasis on the Old Testament, the minister’s overactive sweat glands, and possibly even the minister’s wife’s choice of five-inch heels for shoes. You can overdo it for reviews….if you aren’t careful.

A Secret Test

The question appeared on the New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge text, given to third-graders last week. Students were asked to reveal a secret and then write about why it was difficult to keep. Sometime last week….this odd story came up from the New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge test….given to third-graders.

Typically, you’d expect questions like (1) Name ten states, (2) Name the oceans, and (3) Name the seven continents. Well….New Jersey wanted you to write a bit… their topic for you to write on….was to reveal a secret, then write why it was difficult to keep that secret. From what I can gather, this topic of writing had been on the standardized New Jersey test for several years.

Why secrets? Well….that was the odd thing. No one could really explain why this was chosen or who even approved it to start with. Naturally, one kid finally came home and actually remembered the question….told dad, and then dad got all hostile. What did the state of New Jersey have to do with third graders and secrets?

I sat and pondered over this. This could in New Jersey….but never in Bama. The minute you tossed open a topic writing episode and you asked some third-grade kid from Bama to reveal a secret and reveal why it was difficult to hold it…..then you basically opened up a can of worms.

Marvin, from Red Bay: I have this secret….I use peppermint on my worms when I fish. I don’t wanna tell anyone because then they’d start using peppermint on their worms, and then catch all the fish….instead of me.

Carl, from Madison: I have this secret….I’m smarter than the teacher in just about every subject. I haven’t let on to the teacher about this…..causing if she knew… might upset her terribly. I’m trying awful dang hard to hold this secret, until I get to the fourth grade.

Woody, from Orange Beach: I have this secret…..I have six alien guys who live in our shed and I feed them leftovers from the table. They’s all friendly and such, but they keep demanding more of Grandma’s peach cob pie. I’m trying hard not to let Grandma know about why her pie is disappearing so fast.

Winky, from Tuscumbia: I done have this secret….all the boys are using stall number four in the boys bathroom, and we haven’t flushed it in three days, and it’s getting pretty full. I knows it’s hard to keep this a secret, mostly because it’s awful stinky in the bathroom. I thinks there’s no cleaning lady for our bathroom. By tomorrow, it’ll spill over and be difficult to hold this secret.

My thinking is that folks in New Jersey don’t have much worthy of being secretive about…..while folks in Bama probably ought not get into this admitting of secrets….it’d just trigger discussions….if you ask me.  We'd want to share a hundred secrets....which were more of a comical nature and best not mentioned in public.