This morning on the radio they were talking about the Ig Nobel Prizes which are awarded for achievements that first of all make people laugh and then make them think. The awards ceremony is tonight. Previous winners include a lady who invented a brassiere that quickly converts to face masks (for use in the event of an epidemic); a team that has perfected a method for collecting whale snot using a remote controlled helicopter; a team that discovered that symptoms of asthma can be helped by rollercoaster rides; Ireland’s police service, for writing and presenting more than fifty traffic tickets to the most frequent driving offender in the country — Prawdo Jazny – whose name in Polish means “Driving Licence. He has never been caught because it was a misreading of Polish Driving Licences; and a team that demonstrated that in icy weather people slip less if they wear socks outside their shoes.
I have to say that the premise of the Prizes – making people laugh and then making them think – is something that I applaud most heartily, and I would love it if people would say the same about this blog. I think too it is a great dictum for the way that we communicate our faith. Laughter and learning can be great companions in life and faith.
It got me thinking about whether we ought to award similar prizes in Baptist churches for daft things we have done that also make us think… perhaps called the ‘RAFTAs’ – Ridiculous Actions and Foolish Teaching Awards. All of these have happened in Baptist churches or to Baptist preachers:
The RAFTA for Best Sermon Gaffe might go to the visiting preacher who nervously twiddled a wing nut on the back of the pulpit during his sermon, only to find afterwards that it was attached to the cross on the front… and it was rotating while he twiddled. (Lesson – don’t twiddle while you talk)
The RAFTA for Best Missionary Presentation must go to the Missionary who was working with unreached people in Indonesia who wore very little and felt embarrassed showing slides (proper slides in a slide projector, not PowerPoint) of these people to polite British churches upon his return. Having put small squares of paper on the naughty bits he then found that during the slide presentation the fan on the projector blew the squares off, just after the image appeared on the screen. (Lesson – don’t draw attention to what you don’t want people to notice)
The RAFTA for Worst Children’s talk might be the Minister who chained two children together with a bicycle chain as an illustration of the way that sin binds us and how Jesus frees us (the key). He then discovered he had the wrong key and had to send his wife home to get the key… in the meantime the children escaped on their own. (Lesson – check everything before you use it)
The RAFTA for Most Inappropriate Voluntary could be the organist who played the Largo from Dvorak’s New World Symphony* as the bread was served at communion. Cue many pews shaking and much giggling suppressed. (*It’s the theme for Hovis!) (Lesson – music can evoke the wrong mood)
The RAFTA for Worst Moment at a Wedding may be the Minister who misheard the groom ask, “Can I kiss the bride?” at the end of the ceremony. The Minister took it as permission, leaned forwards, lifted the veil and kissed the bride himself. (Lesson – clean your ears out)
The RAFTA for Least Successful Cross-Cultural Communication probably goes to the British preacher in Africa who had asked his interpreter how to say ‘Good morning’ in the local dialect at the start of his sermon and had added the two words from the front of the toilets that he noticed on his way into church so he could say ‘Good morning ladies and gentlemen.’ After a stunned silence that descended into uproarious laughter he discovered he had actually said, ‘Good morning water closets and urinals’. (Lesson – don’t try to be too clever)
Any more nominations or alternative awards? There’s nothing like raising the RAFTAs!
(Don’t confuse these awards with the Royal Air Force Theatrical Association)
STOP PRESS – just thought that there’s a far better name for the awards. The Ludicrous Actions and Foolish Teaching Awards. After all everyone enjoys LAFTA!
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