Cranky again

Hmm. My evil alter-ego, Mr. Crankypants, is definitely up to something. He has been grinning to himself when he thinks I’m not looking. I have to step out for a minute, and I just know that while I’m gone he’s going to try to post something on this blog. If you don’t like cranky people, best to stop reading right now. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

(Hah! Thought he’d never leave.)

Mr. Crankypants here, feeling particularly cranky this week. Why so cranky? Well, wouldn’t you be cranky if you started thinking about children and church?

Most religious liberal congregations do not allow children to stay in “adult” worship services. The “little darlings” get sent off to Sunday school, where, presumably, someone educates them into full humanity. What really happens in Sunday school? Most adults don’t know, because they never go near the place; nor do they particularly care.

In “progressive” congregations, children are allowed in with the adults for the first fifteen minutes or so. The children are often put on display, for the amusement of the adults, during “story time.” “Story time” is when the adults pass off dumbed-down religion on the children.

Once the children leave, the adults stay in in the sanctuary. (By the way, what are the adults taking sanctuary from? Mr. Crankypants suspects most of us are taking sanctuary from the children.) The adults sit and listen to highly intellectual sermons. The adults know these sermons must be highly intellectual, because the sermons are too intellectual for children to understand.

For you see, religious liberals are actually pretty much like the Calvinists they claim to have revolted against. Religious liberals, like the Calvinists, feel that children are essentially depraved. Unlike the Calvinists, religious liberals do not feel that children are spiritually depraved. Instead, religious liberals feel that children are intellectually depraved. Because children cannot think as well as adults can, they are not fully human. Because they are not fully human, they cannot listen to sermons. Because they cannot listen to sermons, they must be intellectually depraved. Q.E.D.

Oh, but Mr. Crankypants has it all wrong. It has nothing to do with depravity. It’s just developmental psychology. Hah, hah, hah! silly Mr. Crankypants! It’s not theology, it’s all very scientific!

(Uh, oh. Here he comes, back again. Gotta run…)

What’s all thi– Good grief, what nasty, cranky things Mr. Crankypants has written! I just can’t leave this blog unattended for a minute. Dear, dear. My apologies, dear reader, that you have had to listen to mean old Mr. Crankypants. Tomorrow I’ll have a nice, low-key post on birds to make it up to you.

10 thoughts on “Cranky again

  1. CDS

    Personally, I prefer to put the “hard stuff” and the theology in the All Ages portion. Works better there. Then, after the kids go off, I can explain it and repeat it for the adults– who sometimes have trouble understanding the point I’m trying to make.

    But hey, that’s just me (and Mr. Crankypants, apparently.)

    Of course, I had a good model to learn from.


  2. Chalicechick

    Uh, was Mr. Crankypants ever a child? Does he think that because children are not “intellectually
    depraved,” (the definition of “intellectually depraved” apparently being “having preferences that
    differ from Mr. Crankypants’ own) they only watch SpongeBob because we make them? How cruel of us!
    Since they aren’t “intellectually depraved,” they would obviously all rather be watching PBS
    documentaries on the spread of bird flu.

    Children aren’t intellectually depraved, but they also could give less than a damn about say:

    If your first place is home and your second place is work, what is your third place? Are many Americans missing a third place in their lives? Have some of us found it? U.S. Christian literature is filled today with talk of “the third place” of the “starbucks principle”-an examination of filling the human need for connection and community-a need to be welcomed and invited for who we are. Yes indeed, some of us have found it-the third place

    which is what’s going on at my church next Sunday.

    When I was a little kid, my parents made me go to church all the time and it was a slice of Hell. When I did
    understand what was going on, which was far from always, I was seriously bored.

    Kids do not make noise in church to be mean, they make noise in church because they are uncomfortable
    there and want to leave.

    who had much more fun being cranky back than she would have responding to a post about birds.

  3. Jean

    Maybe the adults should stay for story time, be on display in their pretty
    outfits and good behavior, and then when it’s time for the sermon,
    THEY could wave good-bye to the children and go off to Sunday school.
    Classes in, oh, I don’t know…metalsmithing, birdwatching,
    play-doh sculpture, the history of the dog, drawing horses. You know,
    important stuff. And the kids could stay in the sanctuary, taking
    sanctuary and listen to a sermon on the importance of play in everyday
    life, or the philosophy of MisterRogers, or an exigesis of how hard it
    really is to be green after all. Why not.

  4. Administrator

    CDS — Maybe it’s stories that really carry the weight of theology?

    CC — You write: “Kids do not make noise in church to be mean, they make noise in church because they are uncomfortable there and want to leave.” I can’t speak for Mr. Crankypants (who can?), but I wonder if the only difference between kids and adults in church is that the adults have merely been trained not to make so much noise.

    Jean — Once upon a time, my friend ms. michelle actually contemplated doing exactly that. I wonder if she ever did?..

  5. turqUUoise

    My girls(now grown)loved being able to leave after children’s
    time. Their RE programming was often more spiritual than what
    was happening in the sanctuary with us old folks.

    The kids were sharing their feelings about being bullied and playing games of
    trust and co-operation while I was doing the stand-up and sing
    then sit-down and listen to the talk about famous dead UU’s thing.

  6. Scott Wells

    Oh Lord, CC. Can we guess where this magical third place is? The self-same congregation, no doubt. Color me unimpressed. “Third place” is a concern of suburbanites. Urban and rural people don’t talk about them, but have and use them.

    As it happens, I had the opportunity to counsel a not-reared-as-Jewish woman (who accordingly now knows almost nothing about her faith) with regard to which synagogue or havurah would be good for her son, herself, and perhaps her New Age-infused Christian husband. (Bi-faith issues came up, had to honor and defer that one for now.)

    Above all, I said one that (a) walks-the-walk about newcomers, and (b) really won’t have a fit about the three-year-old fussing in worship, and (c) worship should be appealing on as many sensory levels as she desired.

    Without a strong worship experience, classes or no classes, I doubt either of them will grow much as Jews.

  7. Mr. Crankypants

    Scott writes: “Can we guess where this magical third place is? The self-same congregation, no doubt.”

    Hey Scott, Mr. Crankypants has a third place for you. C’mon down to the neighborhood bar where the TV isn’t loud and they make good martinis (nice and dry, good gin, two olives if you ask). OK, it’s a little yup-scale, but it’s only a block away. And they welcome kids.

    More than you can say for most churches.

  8. Abs

    Dear Mr. Crankypants,
    You know I have nothing but respect for you – BUT!
    What’s wrong with giving kids a positive religious experience
    via church school? I would argue that the bigger problem is
    the way in which church services do not necessarily appeal to
    and serve all adults (I am one of those adults!).
    Personally, rather than go to church I would choose to
    either: 1. teach church school and have fun learning with the
    kids, or 2. attend church school for adults and have fun learning.
    Maybe the real problem is that church is just plain boring!!
    (ooops!! did the sister of a minister just say that?????? just
    call her Ms. Crankyskirt!)
    yer cranky and rather unchurched, yet bookish, sis

  9. ms michelle

    ooooooo – My Cranky! I love ya, ya know! And my paper on Mystagogy and Pedagogy will answer all, soon. I am sure! Sunday School is dead. Why must we disrespect the DNR? Time to pull the plug and actually consider meaningful ministry with young people. And EDUCATION for all ages… They are not one in the same. UU ism has a problem with teaching and learning. It’s time we start acting half as “smart” as we says we is…time for the REvolution.


  10. Mr. Crankypants

    Abs sez: “Maybe the real problem is that church is just plain boring!!” Right on target, Ms. Crankyskirt. Love ya!

    ms. michelle sez: “I love ya, ya know!” And Mr. Crnakypants is your biggest fan, too.

    Oooo, a cranky love-fest.

    Mr. Crankypants

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